VOL. 130 | NO. 137 | Thursday, July 16, 2015
Ford Switches Races at Election Filing Deadline
By Bill Dries
Darrell Wright cut it about as close as was possible at the noon Thursday, July 16, filing deadline for candidates in the Oct. 8 Memphis elections.
“You’ve got about 20 seconds,” a worker at the Shelby County Election Commission’s Downtown office said as Wright put his paperwork for City Council District 7 on the counter.
The biggest surprise at the filing deadline was Shelby County Commission chairman Justin Ford withdrawing from the race for Memphis mayor and instead filing to run in the race for City Court Clerk.
“But I’m still going to run citywide,” Ford told reporters as he signed a withdrawal form and submitted a new petition for clerk.
At the noon deadline, the race for mayor was a field of 14. The busiest council races were among the eight contenders for Council District 4, the seat incumbent Wanda Halbert is giving up to run for City Court Clerk, and the eight contenders for Council District 7, where interim appointee Berlin Boyd is seeking a full four-year term. There were seven contenders for Districts 3 and 5, the seats incumbent council members Harold Collins and Jim Strickland are leaving to run for mayor.
Election commission workers were still checking the signatures on the qualifying petitions Thursday afternoon so the petitions in by the noon deadline are not the final word on what the October ballot will look like.
The signatures must come from Shelby County voters who live in the district the candidate is seeking to represent; in the case of citywide races, the voters must live the city of Memphis.
The candidates who met Thursday’s deadline also have a week to withdraw from any races if they wish. The election commission will meet Thursday, July 23, at 4 p.m. – four hours after the withdrawal deadline – to certify the ballot and set it for October as well as the early voting period in September.
There were six contenders at the deadline for the Super District 9 Position 2 seat now held by interim appointee Alan Crone, who is not running on the October ballot.
The six do not include former County Commissioner Joe Cooper, who filed his petition even though his citizenship rights have not been restored from a 2007 federal money laundering conviction and prison sentence.
The Shelby County District Attorney General’s office opposed a restoration of Cooper’s citizenship rights, including his right to vote and to run for elected office.
Cooper couldn’t get a hearing by Wednesday’s filing deadline to seek a delay in the deadline until a court could rule on the issue.
“You can’t appoint a treasurer. You can’t collect signatures. You can’t go to the bathroom in this process until you’ve got your citizenship rights restored. I understood that,” an irate Cooper told Shelby County Elections Administrator Richard Holden. “But I was told that I can’t turn this in. So, what now? Are you accepting my petition?”
Holden advised Cooper to file the petition and let the five-member election commission determine whether he will go on the ballot.
“The board of election commissioners will decide whether you are a certified candidate,” Holden told Cooper.