VOL. 129 | NO. 42 | Monday, March 3, 2014
May Primary Ballot Almost Complete
By Bill Dries
The ballot for the May Shelby County primary elections isn’t quite set, although the Shelby County Election Commission has certified 81 candidates.
Still awaiting a decision at a special meeting Wednesday, March 5, are three would-be candidates whose residency is being formally challenged.
This week, more primary campaigns will open, including incumbent Republican Probate Court Clerk Paul Boyd at a Tuesday barbecue in Cordova and Republican County Commissioner Mark Billingsley at Southwind Tournament Players Club.
Boyd has no opposition in his May primary, but he will face the winner of the seven-way Democratic primary in the August county general election.
The Democratic field had numbered eight candidates until Clay Perry dropped out of the race at last week’s withdrawal deadline.
Billingsley, who was appointed to the commission seat vacated by Lakeland Mayor Wyatt Bunker, faces Ron Fittes in the Republican primary for commission District 4 and the winner meets Democrat Jacqueline Jackson in August.
The Democratic field for Shelby County mayor got smaller at the withdrawal deadline.
County Commission chairman James Harvey dropped out, leaving fellow commissioner Steve Mulroy, former commissioner Deidre Malone and former Shelby County Schools board member Kenneth Whalum Jr.
Malone told members of the Germantown Democratic Club last week that her polling shows she is the only one of the three who can beat incumbent Republican Mayor Mark Luttrell in August.
“I don’t care what type of direct mail you received saying that the other candidate can win this race,” she said. “I polled it too, and my poll says I’m the only candidate in this race that can beat the incumbent Republican mayor.”
Luttrell faces a challenge in the Republican mayoral primary from perennial contender Ernie Lunati.
Malone was elected to two terms on the commission, serving one of those eight years as chairman. She ran in the Democratic primary for Shelby County mayor in 2010 but lost to interim Mayor Joe Ford. She also founded her own marketing and public relations firm 11 years ago, the Carter-Malone Group.
Malone criticized Luttrell for not being aggressive enough on several fronts as she also acknowledged that the county mayor’s power is limited by the strong role the commission plays in county government.
“No matter what a county mayor will say, they have no authority over how much money the school system receives,” she said. “That’s the commission’s responsibility. But what the county mayor can do is be very vocal in her support of education.”
Malone faulted Luttrell for not being more vocal in his opinion of the schools merger and not doing enough to promote the merger framework recommended by the transition planning commission of which Luttrell was a part.
“It’s easy for us to say that the current Republican mayor hasn’t done anything wrong. But for me, it’s about, ‘Do you want four more years of someone who is silent on issues and not really taking a stand,’” Malone said. “Leadership is not sitting in a meeting. Leadership is taking those TPC recommendations and lobbying those school board members and telling them why they need to move that.”
She also conceded that she’s encountered Luttrell supporters who cite his role in the merger’s path and recommendations. But Malone vowed she will continue to challenge that as well as Luttrell.
“He knows I’m coming,” she said.
Meanwhile, the election commission will consider challenges Thursday to the residency of candidates Edith Ann Moore, M. Latroy Williams and E. Jefferson Jones.
Jones and Moore are candidates in different Democratic primaries for the Shelby County Commission. Williams is running in the Democratic primary for Shelby County trustee.