Cohen-Hart in Congressional Race at Filing Deadline

By Bill Dries

The chairman of the countywide school board, Billy Orgel, was effectively elected to his District 7 school board seat without opposition at the Thursday, April 5, filing deadline for candidates on the Aug. 2 primary and general election ballot in Shelby County.

And U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen faced one challenger, Tomeka Hart, in the August Democratic primary for the 9th Congressional District seat.

Five other incumbents appointed to the seven-district school board seats by the Shelby County Commission last year had all filed for re-election by the noon deadline and all had challengers.

District 5 school board member Vanecia Kimbrow was the only incumbent who did not file for election in the nonpartisan races after earlier checking out a petition.

All who filed in those races as well as the Millington general elections and the primary races for the Tennessee Legislature and U.S. Congress have until noon April 12 to withdraw if they wish.

Signatures on some petitions were still being verified into Thursday afternoon. So, the lineups in some races could change by the end of the business day.

Kimbrow’s absence in District 5 sets up a race between former Shelby County Schools board chairman David Pickler and Kim Wirth of the Memphis City Schools Foundation as well as Edgar Babian for the only open seat on the board.

Pickler was one of five members of the old Memphis City Schools or Shelby County Schools boards who considered running for the seven seats that will become the entire countywide school board once the two school systems are consolidated in August 2013.

Those elected to the seats in the Aug. 2 elections begin their staggered terms of office on Sept. 1 on the 23-member transition board. The transition board includes all of the members of the two former boards. But those 16 positions are eliminated as of Sept. 1 in the transition to consolidation.

Former MCS board member Freda Williams is among three challengers to incumbent Chris Caldwell. The other two contenders are Michael Donohoe and Noel Hutchinson.

Former MCS board member Kenneth Whalum Jr. filed to run for the District 4 seat now held by Kevin Woods who is seeking election. Former MCS board member Betty Mallott also considered the race but had not filed by Thursday’s deadline. The other challenger is Russell R. Jones.

Former SCS board member David Reaves, along with Gregory Ritter, is challenging District 3 incumbent Raphael McInnis.

District 6 incumbent Reginald Porter Jr. faces a challenge from Jonathan Lewis.

And District 2 incumbent Teresa Jones has opposition from Tyree Daniels and Eric Dunn.

At the noon deadline, four of the 16 incumbent state representatives in the Shelby County delegation to Nashville were effectively re-elected because they have no opposition in the primary or general elections.

They are Democrats Lois DeBerry and Karen Camper and Republicans Mark White and Jim Coley. DeBerry is the longest-serving member of the Shelby County delegation.

The second-longest serving member of the delegation, District 93 Democrat Mike Kernell, drew opposition at the deadline from another incumbent and fellow Democrat G.A. Hardaway. In the once-a-decade redistricting process, Hardaway was drawn into the same district as Democratic incumbent Barbara Cooper.

The District 93 is one of five state House races that will be decided with the Aug. 2 primary because there are no candidates running in the other party’s primary or as independents. Of those five positions, three will be decided with the Democratic primaries and two will be decided with the Republican primaries.

Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent Jeanne Richardson, who was drawn into the same district as fellow Democratic incumbent Antonio Parkinson, opted instead to file to run in the Democratic primary for District 90 in a challenge of incumbent John DeBerry.

Ian Randolph also joined the District 90 primary at the deadline.

In the two state Senate races on the Shelby County ballot, District 30 Democratic incumbent Jim Kyle has opposition from fellow Democratic incumbent Beverly Marrero who wound up in the same district as Kyle in the redistricting that eliminated one of Shelby County’s state Senate districts. Mario Dennis had also filed in the Democratic primary. The winner will face Republican Colonel G. Billingsley on the November ballot. Billingsley is running unopposed.

District 32 Republican state Sen. Mark Norris of Collierville faced primary opposition from Woody Degan in the August primary for the district that is not limited to Shelby County.

In the 9th U.S. Congressional District, Cohen had one challenger in the August primary. Countywide school board member Tomeka Hart filed her petition two hours before the deadline. City Court Clerk Thomas Long, who had pulled a petition for the primary, did not file.

The Republican congressional primary features four contenders including former Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn and Charlotte Bergmann, who was the party’s challenger to Cohen in the 2010 general election. The other GOP primary candidates are Rollin Stooksberry and Ernest Lunati.

Independent congressional candidates Herbert Bass and Brian L. Saulsberry filed and advance automatically to the November general election.

No contenders for the 8th Congressional District, held by Republican incumbent Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump, Tenn., had filed in Shelby County at the noon deadline.

Fincher’s district was redrawn in redistricting to include a larger portion of Memphis and Shelby County. In the process, the 7th Congressional District, which once included parts of eastern Shelby County, no longer includes any part of Shelby County.

The field for Millington mayor in that city’s Aug. 2 nonpartisan general election is three candidates: former mayor Terry Jones, who lost a re-election bid four years ago to Richard Hodges; Kenneth Uselton and Debra Sigee.

Six of the seven aldermen are seeking re-election.

Bethany K. Huffman and Rhonda O’Dell are running for Position 1, the seat being given up by incumbent Jimmy Pike.

Keith Barger is being challenged for Position 2 by Hank Hawkins and Al Bell.

Don Lowery faces Franklin Dakin for Position 3.

Jim Brown has two challengers seeking Position 4. They are Larry Dagen and Charles P. Reed.

Position 5 is a contest between Brett A. Morgan and Thomas McGhee.

Chris Ford is being challenged by Oscar Brown for Position 6.

And Mike Caruthers and R. Jason Dupress are the contenders for Position 7.