The day the fields in the suburban school races were just about set for November elections, Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir opened his re-election campaign with a fundraiser in East Memphis.
The fundraiser at Owen Brennan’s drew a bipartisan crowd that included Shelby County Commission chairman and Democrat James Harvey and former local Democratic Party chairman Van Turner, who is running for the commission in the 2014 elections.
Lenoir, a Republican, claimed the trustee’s position in the 2010 elections, defeating Democratic incumbent Regina Morrison as part of the GOP sweep of all countywide offices on the county general election ballot.
No Democratic challengers have emerged yet for 2014, as both local parties and candidates begin making moves toward the May 6 county primaries and the Aug. 7 county general elections.
“The election is right around the corner,” attorney and former local Republican Party chairman David Kustoff said as he introduced Lenoir.
Lenoir is running on his record as head of the office that he and his predecessors refer to as being “the county’s banker.”
“Our collections are off the charts … and at the same time we’ve reduced our budget,” he told a group of around 30 people at the Thursday, Sept. 26, fundraiser. “I want to be the trustee for all of Shelby County. So a lot of the initiatives we have rolled out have not only focused on the stewardship aspect but also the financial literacy aspect as well. We live in a community with 30 percent poverty.”
While the basic mission of the office is to collect, forecast and account for the management of county tax dollars, Lenoir has also expanded the office’s reach into numerous financial literacy programs to reach the unbanked population of the city. The efforts are focused on helping more citizens find ways to begin to build some measure of personal wealth through basic practices, such as having a bank account.
“I think there is unfinished business,” Lenoir said, citing the still-unfolding transition of city of Memphis tax collections by his office through an agreement that Lenoir pursued with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. after being rebuffed several times by City Hall.
He also noted a new computer system for the office that will be implemented in the next year and continuing financial literacy efforts.
“There is always going to be work that is going to be needed in the area of financial education and financial literacy,” Lenoir said.
The mechanics of preparing for the part of a campaign the public encounters closer to election day is obscured in what was supposed to be an off-election year in much of Shelby County. There are 11 elections in a three-month period; all but two are special elections.
The six sets of suburban school board races Nov. 7 amount to only nine contested races. The remaining 19 school board races across the six towns and cities are uncontested. All five members of the Collierville school board were effectively elected at last week’s filing deadline, when the five candidates running had no opposition.
As a result, Collierville will bypass an early voting period in late October under a state law that addresses local elections in which everyone on the ballot is unopposed.
The most immediate dates on the political calendar are the rest of the early voting period in the state House District 91 Democratic primary, which runs through Thursday.