VOL. 9 | NO. 46 | Saturday, November 12, 2016
Kustoff, Cohen Win Seats in Congress And the Rest of Shelby County's Ballot
By Bill Dries
Shelby County voters re-elected all but six incumbents seeking re-election on the Nov. 8 election ballot.
And the biggest upset on the local ballot gave Democrats a gain of one seat in the state House delegation from Shelby County.
Germantown attorney David Kustoff won the 8th Congressional District seat. Kustoff, a former U.S. attorney and chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, mounted a campaign across all 15 counties in the district.
(Memphis News/Alan Howell)
Democrat Dwayne Thompson upset Republican state Rep. Steve McManus by 351 votes in the District 96 race. The vote total is according to the unofficial vote totals from the Shelby County Election Commission minus 2,970 absentee votes still being counted at press time.
McManus had considered but abandoned the idea of running in the crowded Republican primary for the 8th Congressional District. When he decided to seek re-election, he announced it would be his last term in Nashville if he was re-elected.
Eight of the state House races were one-candidate affairs, with the winners decided in the August primaries with no opposition from the other party.
The newest Republican member of the Shelby County House delegation is Mark Lovell, who claimed the District 95 seat with an upset of Republican incumbent Curry Todd in the August primaries. Lovell had no Democratic or independent opposition on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The other seven unopposed House candidates were incumbents.
The two state Senate races on the Shelby County ballot were also one-candidate, unopposed races in which state Senate Republican leader Mark Norris of Collierville and Democratic state Sen. Sara Kyle of Memphis were re-elected.
The other five incumbents leaving office with the Nov. 8 results were candidates in the sometimes rough and tumble politics of the suburbs.
The closest race of the ballot was a Millington School Board race in which challenger Ronnie Mackin upset incumbent Louise Kennon by 13 votes.
Kennon was one of two school board incumbents in the city to lose a re-election bid.
The other was board vice chairman Greg Ritter, who lost by a wider margin to challenger Roger Christopher.
Ritter and Kennon had both been on the Millington School Board since the municipal school district was created in 2014.
Three of the seven school board positions were on the November ballot in staggered elections required by state law of all boards of education.
All seven positions on the Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen were on the ballot as well, and incumbent Bethany Huffman lost to challenger Missy Boyd Ervin.
Germantown Schools board incumbent Natalie Williams was also upset by challenger Suzanne Jones.
And Germantown alderman Dave Klevan, appointed alderman in 2015, lost his bid for election to the body to Dean Massey.
Williams was a charter member of the Germantown Schools board.
Klevan and Massey were the latest matchup in Germantown in recent years in an ongoing clash there between political factions over the direction of the city and the path of its future growth.
Also on the Germantown Schools board, Amy Eoff claimed the seat now held by Ken Hoover, who did not seek re-election. Eoff beat Mindy Fischer.
The unofficial results were:
Eoff: 10,722 (57%)
Fischer: 8,030 (42.7%)
Meanwhile, Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner and Millington Mayor Terry Jones were easily re-elected to new four-year terms.
All four ballot questions in Shelby County were approved by voters in the unofficial returns.
Memphis voters approved a shift in Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division in-lieu-of-tax payments that increase city government’s share by $5 million and correspondingly reduce by $5 million county government’s share.
COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENT
And in a countywide referendum, voters approved a county charter amendment that requires approval by the Shelby County Commission for a county mayor to fire a county attorney.
The countywide referendum on the county attorney’s office caps several years of internal debate between some commissioners and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell over the independence of the office appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the commission. Most commissioners favor having an attorney to advise the body independent of the county attorney, similar to the legal counsel used by the Memphis City Council.
But the county charter specifies that the county attorney is the only source of legal advice to the commission and the rest of county government, including the mayor.
The citywide vote on the new in-lieu-of-taxes split from MLGW also saw Luttrell come out against the proposal. Meanwhile, Memphis City Council members worked early voting sites in October and early November in favor of the new arrangement.
LAKELAND TERM LIMITS
Lakeland voters approved two-term limits for the town’s board of commissioners and mayor.
The term limits are different than those already in place for many city of Memphis and Shelby County elected officials, which don’t specify a limit of two consecutive terms. The Lakeland limits are two terms, consecutive or not. Lakeland also specifies that someone elected to a term on the Lakeland commission and a term as mayor have reached the two-term limit and are then barred from running for or serving again in either position.
The Lakeland commission, in January, extended the terms of the mayor and commissioners on a one-time basis only permitted by state law, to get them off an odd-year election schedule. The move puts them on an even-year election cycle to coincide with the November state and federal general elections.
The term limits approved by voters would take effect with those elected in 2018.
WINE IN FOOD STORES
In the fourth ballot question, voters in unincorporated Shelby County approved the sale of wine in retail food stores.
The approval comes two years after votes in six of Shelby County’s seven towns and cities approved similar ballot questions that permitted wine sales in food stores.
Lakeland, the seventh municipality, approved liquor by the drink and then wine in grocery stores in 2015.
Voter turnout in Shelby County for the 2016 presidential general election was 59.7 percent, according to unofficial final returns posted by the Shelby County Election Commission early Wednesday, Nov. 9. That marks the lowest showing since the 2004 presidential general election, when turnout was 57 percent.
The first results in the 2016 elections weren’t posted until 10:25 p.m. Tuesday evening.
The Election Commission planned to begin processing the early and absentee votes at 9 a.m. Tuesday. But more than three hours after the polls closed, no votes had been posted on the Election Commission’s website.
Election workers said a memory card left at a polling place after voting ended Tuesday was to blame. There were also problems with the optical scanner used to tabulate absentee ballots.
But such mistakes have been common in past elections and did not prevent the release of the early vote. In the past, those mistakes have slowed the vote count toward its conclusion.
In the general election contests for the two congressional seats covering Shelby County, 9th District Democratic incumbent Steve Cohen easily beat Republican challenger Wayne Alberson of Memphis. Alberson had no backing from the state Republican Party in the heavily Democratic district.
Cohen: 171,070 (78.7%)
Alberson: 41,021 (18.8%)
In the 8th Congressional District, Germantown attorney David Kustoff claimed the seat covering 15 counties in West Tennessee including parts of Shelby County and Memphis now held by fellow Republican Stephen Fincher.
Fincher announced in February he would not seek another two-year term to the seat.
Kustoff defeated Democratic nominee Rickey Hobson of Somerville in the heavily Republican district. Hobson had no help from the state Democratic Party.
Kustoff: 194,155 (68.7%)
Hobson: 70,828 (25%)
Kustoff carried every county in the district except Haywood County.
Kustoff, a former U.S. attorney and former chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, emerged from a 13-candidate GOP primary in August to claim the party’s nomination.