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VOL. 122 | NO. 239 | Monday, December 17, 2007

Two Primary Contests Set, Two to Go

By Bill Dries

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Two of the four Shelby County primaries on the Feb. 5 ballot were decided at last week's filing deadline for candidates in the races for Property Assessor and General Sessions Court Clerk.

The fields in the two other primaries aren't set just yet. The candidates have until noon Thursday to withdraw if they wish. Then the Shelby County Election Commission will meet to certify the ballot. The county primaries will share the Feb. 5 ballot with the Tennessee Democratic and Republican presidential primaries.

Incumbent General Sessions Court Clerk Chris Turner had no opposition in the GOP primary for the post. He was elected to his first four-year term in 1996, upsetting incumbent John Ford in a victory that marked the first time a member of the Ford family seeking re-election had ever been defeated.

And Cheyenne Johnson had no opposition in the Democratic primary for Assessor, an office now held by Democrat Rita Clark. Clark is not seeking re-election and is supporting Johnson.

Johnson, the chief administrative officer in the Assessor's office, confessed a bit of shock that she didn't draw any rivals in a race with no incumbent.

"I'm excited and have plenty of gratitude that the citizens have so much confidence in me," she said.

Johnson said experience is the issue in the coming general election race "and being ready to take on the 2009 reappraisal."


Get ready, then

Four candidates are running in the Republican primary for the right to face Johnson in the Aug. 7 general election. They are:

  • Bill Giannini, of Lakeland, now in his second term as chairman of the Shelby County Republican party. He has been campaigning for months. Giannini is predicting that the next reappraisal cycle will be critical to both local governments because it will likely show a drop in property values in many parts of Shelby County.
  • Randy Lawson, of Germantown, a computer consultant who was manager of technology for the city of Germantown for six years before going into business for himself. Lawson opened his campaign this month by saying there is room for improvement and modernization in the Assessor's Office. He also called for greater integrity in general in government service.

    Lawson was one of many people approached during the Tennessee Waltz corruption investigation by FBI agents posing as the head of a front company called E-Cycle.

    "When the E-Cycle temptation came to my office, I am proud to say that I passed the integrity test," Lawson said in a written statement. "When they called, I simply passed them on to the appropriate office, where they were told they could submit a bid."

  • John Bogan, of Eads, who could not be reached for comment.
  • Betty Boyette, of Memphis, who has run several times for City Court Clerk, an office she worked in for years. Her most recent bid for elected office was this year's race for City Court Clerk.

Showdown at high noon

The Democratic primary for General Sessions Court Clerk is a two-candidate contest for the right to face Turner on the August ballot. The candidates are:

  • Jerome Payne, of Memphis, an attorney, who could not be reached for comment.
  • Otis Jackson, of Collierville, who has run for County Clerk and County Register in recent elections. As the Democratic nominee for County Clerk in 2006, Jackson lost to Republican Debbie Stamson by 478 votes. He and several other Democratic contenders in close clerks races charged election fraud and took the case to Chancery Court but lost the court fight. Jackson is also a former University of Memphis basketball player who played during the glory years of the mid- to late-'70s and since has been inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame.

Also at last week's filing deadline, Robert J. Mathews Jr., of Memphis, filed for General Sessions Court Clerk as an independent. He advances to the August general election ballot.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 116 288 17,672
MORTGAGES 143 337 20,372
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 15 26 2,671
BUILDING PERMITS 139 488 36,434
BANKRUPTCIES 43 158 11,322
BUSINESS LICENSES 35 93 5,802
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 38 65 6,779
MARRIAGE LICENSES 18 86 4,002