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VOL. 129 | NO. 44 | Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Election Commission Hears Ballot Challenges

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Election Commissioners could complete the ballot for the May Shelby County primary elections Wednesday, March 5, by deciding on challenges to the residency of three candidates in the Democratic primaries.

Shelby County Election Commissioners could complete the ballot for the May primaries Wednesday when they decide challenges to the residency of three candidates.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

The three contenders – two for the Shelby County Commission and one for trustee – are the last question marks in setting the May ballot. The rest of the ballot was certified by the commission at its Feb. 27 meeting, the day of the deadline for candidates in those races to file their petitions.

Hours after the noon deadline there were three challenges to three contenders – Edith Ann Moore, a former county commissioner running in the Democratic primary for new commission District 6; E. Jefferson Jones, also a Democrat, for new commission District 11; and M. Latroy Williams, running in the Democratic primary for county trustee.

Election Commission attorney John Ryder said the commission has the authority to hear the challenges and make a decision. A decision either way could be appealed to Chancery Court.

Moore said she lived in the Raleigh-based commission district when she opened her campaign last month at Raleigh Springs Mall.

“I live in District 6,” she said. “I have a house in District 6.”

But Moore also said she had considered running in several commission districts.

“I chose to come in and work in District 6 after looking at all of the other districts,” she added. “What I like about District 6 is it’s multiethnic.”

When she was appointed to the commission in December 2009, she served in a South Memphis-Whitehaven district that went to current Commissioner Justin Ford in the 2010 county elections.

The commission, with the 2014 elections, converts to a set of 13 single-member districts that replace the current set up of one single-member district and four much larger multi-member districts.

The conversion puts Ford in the new commission District 9.

Meanwhile, the August county general election ballot still has some gaps, notably the structure of the Shelby County Schools board.

The plan to convert it from the 13-member school board plan now on the ballot to a nine-member school board, approved by the County Commission last month, showed up Friday in the case file of the federal court case over the schools reformation.

U.S. District Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays has the final say on the switch, which essentially would restart a filing period for school board candidates that began in January for the 13-member school board.

The Election Commission is expected to file a brief that does not take a position on the plan but instead urges Mays to act as quickly as possible in his decision because of the April 3 filing deadline for candidates in the non-partisan and judicial races on the August ballot.

The August ballot also includes the winners of the May county primaries as well as independent candidates for those offices. And the August ballot includes primaries for state and federal offices including seats in the Tennessee legislature as well as a race for Tennessee governor and one of the state’s two U.S. Senate seats.

All of those races should start to take shape shortly as the filing deadline nears.

For instance, eight contenders have pulled petitions to run for judge of Division 1 of Shelby County Circuit Court. But to date, none have filed, according to the Shelby County Election Commission’s list. And some of the contenders in that race also have petitions out for several other open judicial races with no incumbent anticipated.

Of 11 contenders who pulled petitions for Chancellor Part 2 of Chancery Court, only attorney Ken Besser and state Sen. Jim Kyle had filed by early Tuesday. Chancellor Arnold Goldin is not seeking re-election following his appointment by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to a seat on the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

PROPERTY SALES 90 378 5,955
MORTGAGES 91 378 6,649
BUILDING PERMITS 161 652 13,313
BANKRUPTCIES 0 1,045 4,093