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

By Bill Dries

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.

Republican Terry Roland’s lack of opposition was the only victory of its kind among the 23 county offices on the May 6 ballot.

Six other commission races will be decided with the May primaries because the other party didn’t field any candidates and no independent candidates filed, according to the final list kept by the Shelby County Election Commission.

The list of contenders could change. All of those who qualified by Thursday’s deadline have one week to withdraw if they wish. The election commission will certify the May ballot later that same day, Thursday, Feb. 27.

District Attorney General Amy Weirich had no opposition in the Republican primary and neither did Democratic challenger and former Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Joe Brown in his. Both automatically advance to the August general election signaling an early start to a campaign that is expected to be a referendum on the role of the prosecutor’s office in the local criminal justice system.

The general election race for Shelby County Sheriff was also set at the deadline between Republican incumbent Bill Oldham and Democratic challenger Bennie L. Cobb, a retired sheriff’s deputy. Neither had opposition in their respective May primaries.

A third general election match up that involves the local criminal justice system will have to wait on the Democratic primary for Juvenile Court Clerk. Incumbent Republican Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliatos will face one of two Democratic challengers, County Commissioner Henri Brooks or former City Public Services director Kenneth Moody on the August county general election ballot. Brooks and Moody will meet in the May prmary. Independent candidate Morrie E. Noel advances to the August general election.

Incumbent Criminal Court Clerk Kevin Key did not file for re-election in the Republican primary making that the only one of the 11 countywide races in which an incumbent is not seeking re-election.

Richard L. DeSaussure III, the chief administrative officer of the clerk’s office, effectively won the Republican primary at the filing deadline with no opposition.

He will face in August the winner among five Democratic primary contenders including Memphis City Council member Wanda Halbert, City Court Clerk Thomas Long, Assistant District Attorney General Michael McCusker and Pastor Ralph White.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell faces opposition in the Republican mayoral primary from perennial contender Ernie Lunati. And the Democratic field of mayoral challengers stood at four, three of the four current or former Shelby County commissioners.

The field is current commission chairman James Harvey, former commissioner Deidre Malone, current commissioner Steve Mulroy and former Shelby County Schools board member Kenneth Whalum Jr.

Independent candidates Leo Awgowhat and Charles Nelson automatically advance to the August general election ballot.

In the 13 district races for Shelby County Commission featuring new single members districts for the winners in August, Democrats and Republicans were each guaranteed three seats on the 13-member body when the May primary votes are counted. Roland's unopposed victory brings the total to four seats for Republicans.

Incumbent Republican commissioner Heidi Shafer had no opposition at the deadline in her primary for District 5. She meets restaurateur Taylor Berger in the August county general election. Berger has no opposition in the Democratic primary.

Incumbent Republican Commissioner Steve Basar had no opposition in the District 13 primary and meets the winner between Democrats Manoj Jain and Deangelo Pegues in the August county general election.

Attorney and former local Democratic party chairman Van Turner faces Bryant K. Boone in the Democratic primary for District 12.

Independent candidate Alvin Crook advances to the August general election race.

Six commission races will be decided with the May primaries since one of the two parties didn’t field any contenders in those races and there were no independent candidates.

David C. Bradford Jr. and George B. Chism will face off in the Republican primary for District 2.

The District 3 Republican primary became a four-way contest among Shelby County Schools teacher Sherry Simmons, Shelby County Schools board member David Reaves, Kelly Price and Nasar Fazlullah.

In District 4, the contest for the seat is also in the Republican primary between interim county commission Mark Billingsley and retired Memphis police major Ron Fittes.

Incumbent Democratic commissioner Melvin Burgess faces Brandon M. Echols in the Democratic primary to decide who takes the District 7 seat.

In District 9, incumbent Democratic Commissioner Justin Ford is part of a three-candidate field that includes former Shelby County Schools board member Patrice Robinson and Memphis-Shelby County Education Association President Keith Williams.

And the Democratic primary for the District 11 commission seat is among E. Jefferson Jones, Eddie S. Jones, Hendrell Remus and Claude Talford.

In the remaining sets of commission primaries, Republican David Shiffman advanced to the August county general election and faces one of four Democrats vying for the District 6 seat. They are Karl Bond, former Memphis City Schools board member Willie Brooks, Kendrick Sneed and former county commissioner Edith Moore.

In District 8, Republican Julie Diane Ray advances to the August county general election ballot to face the Democratic primary winner among incumbent commissioner Walter Bailey, former Memphis City Council member Berlin Boyd and David Vinciarelli.

Republican Geoffrey C. Diaz has the District 10 primary to himself. In August he faces the winner among Democrats Jake Brown and South Memphis Alliance director Reginald Milton. Independent Chris Boyd advances to the August general election.

Incumbent Probate Court Clerk Paul Boyd had no opposition in the Republican primary. But he faces the winner of the largest field on the May primary ballot for either party.

The eight Democratic contenders who qualified are Regina Beale, Jennings Bernard, William Chism Jr., Darnell Gatewood Sr., Cynthia Gentry, Aaron Hall, Heidi Kuhn and Clay Perry.

In other countywide races, incumbent Democratic Shelby County Assessor Cheyenne Johnson is being challenged in the May primary by Lorie Ingram. The winner faces the winner in the Republican primary between Keith Alexander and Mary Royko.

Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir drew opposition in the Republican primary for trustee at the deadline from Jeff Jacobs. The Democratic primary field is Rhonda Banks, Derrick Bennett and M. LaTroy Williams. David K. Kemp is running as an independent.

Incumbent Circuit Court Clerk Jimmy Moore meets challenger Michael Finney in the Republican clerk’s primary. The Democratic contest is between Del Gill and Rhonda Banks.

Incumbent Republican County Clerk Wayne Mashburn advances to the August ballot to face the winner among Democrats Charlotte Draper, John Freeman and Yolanda King-Kight. Independent candidate Isaac Wright advances to the August ballot in that race as well.

Incumbent Republican Register Tom Leatherwood also had no opposition in his primary and in August meets the winner between Democrats Stephen E. Christian and Coleman Thompson.