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VOL. 125 | NO. 6 | Monday, January 11, 2010

Commissioners to Fill Commission, Legislature Vacancies

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Commissioners will begin the new year with some familiar chores.

Today’s meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. at the County Administration Building.

It includes the appointment of a new commissioner for District 4 Position 3. And the commission will appoint an interim state representative for District 85.

The commission spent much of 2009 filling such vacancies.

At the body’s last meeting of 2009, commissioners appointed Edith Moore to fill the County Commission seat Joe Ford vacated when the commission appointed him interim Shelby County mayor.

The Shelby County charter does not provide for special elections to fill vacancies in county offices. Commissioners considered adding a provision for special elections in 2008, when it sent a set of proposed charter changes to voters. However, most commissioners felt the low turnout in such special elections didn’t justify the expense to taxpayers. The provision never made the cut of changes that went on the ballot.

The District 4 commission seat has been vacant twice in the past year. Republican David Lillard was elected to the seat in the 2006 elections but he resigned after he was appointed state treasurer by the Tennessee Legislature in early 2009.

The commission then appointed Democrat Matt Kuhn to the seat. But he resigned in December after Ford hired Kuhn as a policy adviser.

Whoever wins today’s appointment will serve through the end of the year.

Those who have applied are:

  • Terry Roland, Millington business owner who has already picked up a qualifying petition to run for the seat in the 2010 Republican primaries.
  • George B. Chism of Collierville, who like Roland has pulled a petition for the May GOP primary.
  • John Wilkerson of Lakeland, a retired accountant and long-time activist in the Shelby County Republican Party.
  • Linda Kerley, former mayor of Collierville, who was considered for appointment by the commission to the seat last year as well as appointment as interim Shelby County mayor.
  • John Pellicciotti of Germantown, who has run for the state Legislature several times, including a bid last year in the GOP primary for state House District 83.
  • Jim Bomprezzi, former Lakeland mayor who has run for the commission in the past.
  • Kevin A. Bailey of Bartlett, a wholesale fireworks distributor.
  • Harold Hill Jr. of Bartlett, an ITT Technical Institute teacher.
  • James Michael Hivner, a Bartlett attorney who has concentrated his practice in taxation and estate planning.
  • Charles McGowan, a theater and dance instructor from Collierville.

The other vacancy was caused by the death of veteran Democratic state legislator Larry Turner.

The field of candidates for the state house seat is smaller. The contenders are:

  • Johnnie R. Turner, Larry Turner’s widow who is also executive director of the Memphis branch NAACP.
  • Jacqueline Camper, a teacher.
  • Errol Harmon, an attorney who ran twice against Turner.
  • Paul Lewis, a FedEx employee.
  • Eddie Jones Sr., a city of Memphis employee.

The winner of the appointment will have about 24 hours to consider the honor before driving to Nashville to serve through the current legislative session, which begins Tuesday with a special session on education. The session is expected to end relatively early, perhaps in April, because this is an election year for all 99 house seats and a third of the 33 seats in the state Senate.

Whoever gets the appointment today is expected to run for a full two-year term this year, first in the August state primaries and, if they win the primary, in the November general elections.

PROPERTY SALES 57 94 2,713
MORTGAGES 16 37 1,820
BUILDING PERMITS 303 621 6,322
BANKRUPTCIES 138 138 1,115