VOL. 9 | NO. 16 | Saturday, April 16, 2016
Only One School Board Seat Contested
By Bill Dries
It’s usually filing too close to the deadline that ends up shedding potential candidates from local election ballots.
That is the case with two would-be challengers to a pair of Shelby County Schools board incumbents on the Aug. 4 ballot.
The result is four of the five school board incumbents seeking re-election on the August ballot are running unopposed as the ballot is about to be set by the Shelby County Election Commission.
The deadline for candidates who made the April 7 filing deadline to have their names taken off the ballot was noon Thursday, April 14.
No candidates dropped out at the deadline, according to the election commissoin listing.
Vandail Verner filed at the April 7 deadline to challenge incumbent District 4 school board member Kevin Woods. He had checked out his qualifying petition just a day earlier.
But the election commission list of potential candidates shows he didn’t have the required 25 signatures on his petition to make it onto the ballot.
It was the same story for Rhonda Munn Banks, who pulled a petition in March to challenge incumbent District 7 school board member Miska Clay-Bibbs, but didn’t file until the day before the deadline.
The disqualifications mean there is only one contested SCS board race on the August ballot.
That is the District 3 race between incumbent Stephanie Love and challenger Sharon Fields.
Incumbent school board chairman Teresa Jones and board member Scott McCormick had no opposition at the filing deadline.
Five of the nine school board seats are on the 2016 ballot with the other four on the ballot in 2018 – a state law requires staggering the terms of school boards.
Election commission workers check the petitions to ensure those who sign the petitions are voters in Shelby County and live in the districts the candidate is running for.
Experienced candidates usually get many more than the minimum 25 signatures because sometimes those who sign not only don’t live in the district, they sometimes aren’t registered to vote.
The election commission will notify candidates if they come up short on qualified signatures. But the closer the deadline is, the less likely the candidate is to be able to gather new signatures.
Verner and Banks could appeal to the election commission when it certifies the ballot. Those appeals are usually based on disputed voters who signed the petition and currently live in the district despite a different address on their voter registration records.
Meanwhile, Vernon Johnson failed to get the necessary signatures on his qualifying petition at last week’s deadline in the Democratic primary for state Senate District 30.
Johnson’s exit from the race makes it a one-on-one showdown between incumbent Sara Kyle and challenger and former state Sen. Beverly Marrero in the August primary. There are no Republican or independent contenders, meaning whoever wins the primary wins the general election.