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Editorial Results (free)

1. Roland ReElected At Filing Deadline, Two Countywide Races Set For August -

One of the six Shelby County Commission incumbents seeking re-election this year was effectively elected to a new four-year term in a new district with the noon Thursday, Feb. 20, filing deadline for candidates in the May county primaries.

2. Club Crave Nuisance Case Moves Slowly -

The Shelby County District Attorney General’s office and attorneys for the owners of Club Crave have been talking privately since prosecutors got the court order that closed the Beale Street nightspot during the Christmas holidays as a public nuisance.

3. Next Move - To say the now-closed restaurant at 7955 Fischer Steel Road has had an unusual history is probably an understatement.

4. High-Profile District Court Judge Lets Lighter Side Show -

Complicated, high-profile cases that frequently carry far-reaching significance have a knack for winding up in the lap of U.S. District Court Judge Hardy Mays.

The most recent hot potato to be launched his way is the messy legal fracas stemming from the Memphis City Schools’ surrender of its charter in December. A court hearing before Mays appears set for Monday on the future of an appointed countywide school board.

5. Ford Name Plays Into Election Victory -

It didn’t work for Myron Lowery in last year’s special election for Memphis mayor.

But Joe Ford won the Democratic nomination for Shelby County mayor this week by running from the office.

6. Ford Wins Democratic Mayoral Primary -  

Interim County Mayor Joe Ford became the Democratic nominee for mayor in the August county general elections Tuesday night.

And the August sheriff’s race will be a contest between Democrat Randy Wade and Republican Randy Wade.

All three were among the winners in Tuesday’s low turnout county primaries.

Approximately ten percent of Shelby County’s nearly 600,000 voters cast ballots in early voting and election day polling.

Ford, who was appointed interim mayor in December, beat County Commissioner Deidre Malone and General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson in the Democratic primary. He will face Republican Mark Luttrell who had only token opposition in the Republican primary from perennial contender Ernie Lunati.

Luttrell has raised more money than all three of the Democratic primary contenders combined and began running television ads in the last week runup to election day.

The final unofficial totals in the Democratic mayoral primary are:

Ford 20,360 57%

Malone 12,916 37%

Jackson 2,168 6%

The pair of primaries for Sheriff featured eight candidates, seven of whom either currently work for the sheriff’s department or are past employees. Only Reginald French, in the Democratic primary was not a former or current department official.

Wade was the 2002 Democratic nominee, losing to Luttrell who is leaving as Sheriff after serving two terms. French was the Democratic nominee in the 2006 elections.

Oldham is Luttrell’s chief deputy, the number two position in the department. He is also a former director of the Memphis Police Department.

The final unofficials totals in the Republican primary are:

Bill Oldham 13,821 48%

Dale Lane 7,981 28%

Bobby Simmons 5,886 21%

James Coleman 943 3%

In the Democratic primary:

Randy Wade 22,643 67%

Reginald French 6,777 20%

Larry Hill 2,738 8%

Bennie Cobb 1,814 5%

Voters in the primary elections decided to return six Shelby County commissioners to new four year terms with Tuesday’s results. They also elected six new commissioners. The winner of the thirteenth commission seat will be decided on the August general election ballot in a contest between district 5 Democratic incumbent Steve Mulroy and Republican challenger Dr. Rolando Toyos. The winner of the match up will determine whether the commission remains majority Democrat or goes majority Republican.

Mulroy easily defeated Jennings Bernard in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Republican incumbent Mike Ritz ran unopposed as did new Democratic commissioner Walter Bailey.

In the remaining ten contests, the primaries decided who gets the seats since no one ran in the opposing party’s primary.

The most hotly contested contest among the commission races was for District 4 Position 1. Outgoing Probate Court Clerk Chris Thomas beat John Pellicciotti, appointed to a commission seat last year but running for a different position in the same district. Jim Bomprezzi, the former mayor of Lakeland, was the third contender in the contest.

The final unofficial totals in the Republican primary:

Thomas 7,631 52%

Pellicciotti 4,871 33%

Bomprezzi 2,298 15%

In position 2 of the same district incumbent Republican Wyatt Bunker easily overcame two challengers with former Lakeland alderman John Wilkerson finishing second and Ron Fittes finishing third.

Millington businessman Terry Roland claimed the third position in the district that takes in all six of Shelby County’s suburban towns and cities.

Roland beat George Chism to take the seat Pellicciotti was appointed to but opted not to run for in deference to Roland.

Heidi Shafer, an aide to outgoing County Commissioner George Flinn, claimed Flinn’s District 1 Position 2 seat over Albert Maduska.in the GOP primary.

District 1 incumbent Republican Mike Carpenter easily beat businessman Joe Baier.

In the Democratic commission primaries, Melvin Burgess claimed Malone’s District 2 Position 3 seat in a field of six contenders. His closest contender was Reginald Milton. Burgess, a city school system audit manager, had run for the seat before. He brought in 54 percent of the vote.

The other hard fought Democratic commission primary saw Justin Ford, son of the interim mayor, claim his father’s District 3 Position 3 seat.

Ford beat Edith Moore, a retired IBM executive, whom the commission appointed to the seat after the elder Ford became mayor.

The final unofficial vote totals are:

Ford 7,342 66%

Moore 3,822 34%

Democratic incumbent commissioners Henri Brooks, Sidney Chism and James Harvey were all re-elected over primary challengers.

The county-wide primaries for seven clerk’s positions saw the return of former Criminal Court Clerk Minerva Johnican 16 years after Republican challenger Bill Key took her job. Johnican decisively beat Ralph White and Vernon Johnson in her first bid for office since the 1994 defeat. She will face Republican Kevin Key, the son of Bill Key in the August general election.

The final unofficial vote totals are:

Johnican 16,381 51%

White 10,170 31%

Johnson 5,954 18%

Former Juvenile Court Clerk Shep Wilbun easily won the Democratic primary with 76 percent of the vote to face Republican Joy Touliatos in August for the office being vacated by Republican Steve Stamson. Touliatos was unopposed in the primary.

Democrat Coleman Thompson is back for another go at incumbent Republican Register Tom Leatherwood.

Aside from Leatherwood, Jimmy Moore is the only other of the seven clerks seeking re-election. Moore ran unopposed in the GOP primary. He will face Democrat Ricky Dixon in August.

Trustee Regina Newman was appointed to her office following the death last year of Paul Mattila. Newman easily overcame M LaTroy Williams in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. She will face David Lenoir, who beat former Shelby County Commissioner John Willingham in the Republican contest.

The final unofficial vote totals are:

Lenoir 15,922 58%

Willingham 11,569 42%

The other six candidate field on the ballot was in the Democratic primary for Probate Court Clerk. Sondra Becton posted impressive vote totals over her rivals, bringing in 35 percent of the vote with Peggy Dobbins her closest rival. Becton, who is making her fourth bid for the office, will face Republican Paul Boyd, who ran unopposed in his primary.

The final unofficial vote totals are:

Becton 10,929 36%

Dobbins 5,366 18%

Annita Hamilton 4,848 16%

Clay Perry 3,549 12%

Danny Kail 3,120 11%

Karen Tyler 2,782 9%

The closest contest of the evening was in the Democratic primary for County Clerk. Wrestling promoter and television personality Corey Maclin won his political debut by less than 1,400 votes over Charlotte Draper and LaKeith Miller. He will face Republican Wayne Mashburn who beat Steve Moore in the companion primary.

Early voting in advance of the Aug. 5 election day begins July 16. The August ballot will also feature state and federal primary elections including the statewide primaries for governor and the primaries for all nine of the state’s Congressional districts.

...

7. Candidate Filing List -- The Final Version -

Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell appeared on his way to the Republican nomination for Shelby County mayor at Thursday’s noon filing deadline for candidates on the May 4 primary ballot.

8. UPDATE: Mayor's Race Grows At Filing Deadline -

Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell appeared on his way to the Republican nomination for Shelby County mayor at Thursday’s noon filing deadline for candidates on the May 4 primary ballot.

Luttrell faces only token opposition from perennial candidate Ernie Lunati.

Meanwhile, the Democratic primary for mayor grew to three contenders as General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson filed his qualifying petition just before the deadline. He joins interim County Mayor Joe Ford and Shelby County Commissioner Deidre Malone.

Luttrell ruled out a bid for Shelby County mayor last year (2009). But when Harold Byrd decided not to run in the Democratic primary, some local GOP leaders asked Luttrell to reconsider.

The result touched off a scramble of candidates from both parties for the open sheriff’s office. But before the noon deadline, the initial field of over a dozen possible contenders was narrowed to ten – six Democrats and four Republicans.

The other surprise at the filing deadline was the return of attorney Walter Bailey to the District 2 Position 1 seat he gave up in the 2006 elections. Bailey sought re-election then to another term despite a two term limit on commissioners. Bailey lost to J.W. Gibson who decided not to seek re-election. He also lost a court fight to overturn the term limits.

Bailey was the only candidate who had filed for the seat at the Thursday deadline.

Only one incumbent county commissioner – Republican Mike Ritz -- was effectively re-elected at the deadline because he had no opposition.

All but one of the eleven contested County Commission races will be decided with the May 4 primaries. The only general election battle for the August ballot is the district 5 contest between GOP challenger Dr. Rolando Toyos and whoever wins the May Democratic primary between incumbent Steve Mulroy and Jennings Bernard.

Former County Commissioner John Willingham also returned to the ballot among a field of Republican contenders in the primary for Shelby County Trustee.

And former Criminal Court Clerk Minerva Johnican joined the Democratic primary field for her old job. Incumbent Republican Bill Key pulled petition to seek re-election but did not file at the deadline.

Here is the list of races and contenders from The Shelby County Election Commission. All candidate have until noon Feb. 25 to withdraw from the ballot if they wish.

D-Democrat

R- Republican

I- Independent

Shelby County Mayor:

Deidre Malone (D)

Joe Ford (D)

Otis Jackson (D)

Mark Luttrell (R)

Ernest Lunati (R)

Leo Awgowhat (I)

Shelby County Sheriff:

James Coleman (R)

Bobby Simmons (R)

Bill Oldham (R)

Dale Lane (R)

Larry Hill (D)

Bennie Cobb (D)

Randy Wade (D)

James Bolden (D)

Elton Hymon (D)

Reginald French (D)

County Commission Dist 1 Pos 1

Mike Ritz (R) (incumbent)

County Commission Dist 1 Pos 2

Albert Maduska (R)

Heidi Shafer (R)

County Commission Dist 1 Pos 3

Mike Carpenter (R) (incumbent)

Joe Baire (R)

County Commission Dist 2 Pos 1

Walter Bailey (D)

County Commission Dist 2 Pos 2

Henri Brooks (D) (incumbent)

David Vinciarelli (D)

County Commission Dist 2 Pos 3

Eric Dunn (D)

Norma Lester (D)

Tina Dickerson (D)

Melvin Burgess (D)

Reginald Milton (D)

Freddie Thomas (D)

County Commission Dist 3 Pos 1

James Harvey (D) (incumbent)

James Catchings (D)

County Commission Dist. 3 Pos 2

Sidney Chism (D) (incumbent)

Andrew "Rome" Withers (D)

County Commission Dist. 3 Pos 3

Edith Moore  (D) (incumbent)

Justin Ford (D)

County Commission Dist 4 Pos 1

Chris Thomas (R)

John Pellicciotti (R)

Jim Bomprezzi (R)

County Commission Dist 4 Pos 2

Wyatt Bunker (R) (incumbent)

John Wilkerson (R)

Ron Fittes (R)

County Commission Dist 4 Pos 3

Terry Roland (R)

George Chism (R)

Edgar Babian (R)

County Commission Dist 5

Steve Mulroy (D) (incumbent)

Jennings Bernard (D)

Rolando Toyos (R)

Shelby County Clerk

Charlotte Draper (D)

Corey Maclin (D)

LaKeith Miller (D)

Wayne Mashburn (R)

Steve Moore (R)

Criminal Court Clerk

Vernon Johnson (D)

Minerva Johnican (D)

Ralph White (D)

Michael Porter (R)

Kevin Key (R)

Jerry Stamson (I)

Circuit Court Clerk

Jimmy Moore (R) (incumbent)

Steven Webster (D)

Carmichael Johnson (D)

Ricky W. Dixon (D)

Juvenile Court Clerk

Joy Touliatos (R)

Charles Marshall (D)

Sylvester Bradley (D)

Shep Wilbun (D)

Julia Roberson Wiseman (I)

Probate Court Clerk

Paul Boyd (R)

Sondra Becton (D)

Danny Kail (D)

Annita Sawyer Hamilton (D)

Peggy Dobbins (D)

Clay Perry (D)

Karen Tyler (D)

Shelby County Register

Tom Leatherwood (R) (incumbent)

Coleman Thompson (D)

Lady J. Swift (D)

Carlton Orange (D)

Shelby County Trustee

Regina Newman (D) (incumbent)

M. LaTroy Williams (D)

John Willingham (R)

Jeff Jacobs (R)

David Lenoir (R)

...

9. Closely Watched Cordova Restaurant To Open Soon -

The Memphis-Shelby County Office of Construction Code Enforcement has issued a certificate of occupancy for an upscale restaurant developed in Cordova by a topless-nightclub businessman.

That approval granted Aug. 7 means city and county officials are satisfied the building is suitable for occupancy, said Assistant County Attorney Carter Gray. And it means Stella Marris, strip club mogul Steve Cooper’s restaurant at 7955 Fischer Steel Road, can open whenever its owner is ready.

10. Donald Mulls Over Strip Club Beer Sales -

Whether Memphis strip clubs continue to serve beer at the end of this month depends on a ruling to come in the next two weeks by U.S. District Court Judge Bernice Donald.

Donald's written ruling is to come on a motion by seven of the strip clubs to bar enforcement of the new ordinance pending trial and a court ruling on the constitutionality of the ordinance itself.

11. Attorney General To Defend Strip Club Ordinance -

Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper will help defend the Shelby County ordinance governing Memphis strip clubs in U.S. District Court.

Cooper's office filed a motion Monday to intervene on the side of the city and county in the case filed by seven strip club owners. The suit challenges the constitutionality of the ordinance as well as the state law on which the ordinance is based.

12. Council Wrangles With Strip Club Ordinance -

The Memphis City Council's discussion about regulating strip clubs lurched back to life this month with council passage on the second of three readings of a controversial ordinance.

Much of the council's debate dealt with passing an ordinance that would replace the one passed by the Shelby County Board of Commissioners last year that covers the unincorporated county as well as Memphis.

13. Platinum Plus Owner Sentenced -

It might have been one of the more unique statements ever made during a sentencing hearing in Memphis federal court.

"I didn't realize the girl shows were prostitution. But I should have," strip club owner Ralph Lunati told U.S. District Court Judge Hardy Mays last week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

14. Lunati Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison -

The owner of the city’s best known strip club owners was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison on a federal conspiracy charge.

Ralph Lunati pleaded guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering. Under terms of the plea deal, Lunati could have withdrawn his guilty plea had U.S. District Court Judge Hardy Mays sentenced him to more than 18 months.

15. Lunati Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison -

The owner of the city’s best known strip club was sentenced today to 18 months in prison on a federal conspiracy charge.

Ralph Lunati pleaded guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering. Under terms of the plea deal, Lunati could have withdrawn his guilty plea had U.S. District Court Judge Hardy Mays sentenced him to more than 18 months.

16. From Blackmail to Strip Club Shutdowns, Lunati's Name is There -

His name has turned up on several occasions in news stories about one of the most sensational dramas to rock Memphis politics in recent memory.

He's Ralph Lunati, the owner of one of the city's most infamous strip clubs, Platinum Plus. That business, plus another club Lunati has an ownership stake in, Tunica Cabaret & Resort, was raided and shut down by federal agents in December after a two-year undercover investigation dubbed "Operation Last Call."

17. Beware the Ides of Memphis -

In the late 1960s, black leaders in Memphis sponsored a series of protests during which more than 60,000 students and teachers stayed home from school to build support for a desegregated school board and school system.

18. When it Comes To Cooper’s Proposed Restaurant, Questions Abound -

Judging by his living circumstances alone, it would be difficult to argue the topless club business has been anything less than wildly profitable for Steven Craig Cooper.

Cooper, reportedly a high school dropout and later a self-made entrepreneur who built a network of successful adult entertainment clubs, splits his time between Phoenix and Memphis. The Bluff City is where he keeps a nine-room stucco home in an upscale neighborhood that currently is appraised at more than $700,000.