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VOL. 132 | NO. 70 | Friday, April 7, 2017

Early Voting in District 95 Primaries Begins Friday

By Bill Dries

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Early voting opens Friday, April 7, in the special primary elections for state House District 95 as other elections – including some 2018 races – already show plenty of signs of political life.

Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland is among the political contenders who won’t be on the ballot until 2018 but are already setting up their campaigns and looking for votes. Roland is running for Shelby County mayor.

(Daily News/Bill Dries)

The early voting period runs through April 22 with election day on April 27 to fill the vacancy created by the February resignation of Republican state Rep. Mark Lovell of Eads.

Early voting is available at Collierville Church of Christ, 575 Shelton Road, and New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, 7786 Poplar Pike in Germantown. Visit the Shelby County Election Commission’s website, shelbyvote.com, for polling hours.

Democratic contender Julie Byrd Ashworth is running unopposed in the primary and automatically advances to the June 15 special general election along with independent candidates Jim Tomasik and Robert Schutt.

Three of the seven Republican contenders have held office before: Collierville alderman Billy Patton; Collierville school board member Kevin Vaughan; and former Germantown alderman and homebuilder Frank Uhlhorn. All four of the other candidates – Joseph Crone, attorney Gail Williams Horner, salesman Curtis D. Loynachan, and Missy Marshall – are Collierville residents.

During the early voting period, election officials will be trying out a new “poll book” that promises to speed up the process of verifying a voter’s identity and ballot application. The “Poll Pads” by KnowInk of St. Louis are one of several systems the election commission is considering in a move to cut the average time of up to 4 minutes it can take to check in voters on the existing technology. Poll Pads tout a check-in time of 90 seconds per voter.

Waiting in the wings and getting their campaign infrastructure in place are contenders in the larger 2018 slate of countywide and statewide elections.

Former Tennessee Economic and Community Development commissioner Randy Boyd was in the city Wednesday talking with local leaders as his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor continues to develop.

Boyd calls it a “governor training school” that included getting a tour of county facilities this week from Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell as well as a stop at the Promise Academy charter schools.

“It’s an attitude,” Boyd said. “I feel like that to be a good governor you need to understand your state. This is maybe the one best chance I’ll ever have to take 18 months and go to every one of the 95 counties and meet people, listen and learn, understand their dreams, their aspirations, their concerns.”

It is the third time Boyd has been in Shelby County since kicking off his campaign March 15. He has covered 25 counties in the first five weeks.

“I was a little concerned about how I would enjoy it,” Boyd said. “I’m loving it. It’s energizing.”

Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland formally kicked off his bid for Shelby County mayor last year toward the 2018 Republican county primaries.

Dale Lane and Floyd Bonner Jr. are already announced contenders for Shelby County sheriff in the 2018 Republican and Democratic primaries, respectively. Bonner is chief deputy to Sheriff Bill Oldham, who like Luttrell is term-limited. Lane is a former Sheriff’s Department official who heads the county’s Office of Preparedness and ran for sheriff in 2010.

At a March 28 fundraiser in Arlington that drew 50 people, Roland talked in more detail about his sometimes confrontational political philosophy

“You ever heard of the art of the deal?” asked the West Tennessee chairman of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, referring to Trump’s 1987 book.

Roland talked about his challenges of Democratic county commissioners and Luttrell’s administration as well as city leaders – saying he uses the conflicts to bring other elected officials to the table to make deals on issues.

“A lot of people, they’ll look at some of the decisions I make and they’ll think, ‘Why did he do that?’” Roland said. “Folks, let me tell you – there’s a lot of thought that goes into what I do. I float these ideas before I do them. ... A lot of things we do in county government are really not partisan. You’ve got to be able to have relationships with people to be able to get things done.”

A photographer from Red Thread Pictures of Memphis was recording Roland’s speech at the event and Roland said later the company will be doing his campaign ads.

“I know it’s early,” Roland said “I know it’s kind of the offseason.”

But with Luttrell serving his second and final term under term limits, the 2018 mayor’s race will be for an open seat.

Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir has been building his campaign for the Republican nomination over a longer period. And he and Roland are already showing up at a lot of the same events on the way to the May 2018 primaries that Roland’s campaign staff reminded those in Arlington is only 13 months away.

Meanwhile, as early voters in the Collierville/Germantown/Eads district are going to the polls starting Friday, the field continues to form for another special election in Lakeland to fill one of two vacancies on the city’s commission from the resignation of Michele Dial. The other earlier vacancy can be filled by appointment. But Dial’s decision to resign triggered a provision calling for a special election.

The filing deadline for Lakeland’s May 25 special election is noon April 13.

Four contenders have pulled petitions but none has filed so far, according to election commission records.

They are: Shelby County Sheriff’s Office planning administrator Maurice Denbow, former state Rep. Tim Joyce, Crye-Leike broker Billy C. Rodgers Jr. and Wright Landscapings owner Wesley Alan Wright.

Candidates have been pulling qualifying petitions since mid-March in the only regularly scheduled elections in Shelby County in 2017 – the Sept. 21 aldermen and school board elections in Arlington.

The deadline to file in the nonpartisan races for three seats on the board of aldermen and three seats on the Arlington school board is June 15 at noon.

So far by election commission records, Cheryl Pardue has filed for alderman position 2. Incumbent alderman Harry McKee has filed to run for another term in position 5 and Jeremy Biggs has filed for alderman position 6. Seven other prospective contenders have petitions out in that set of races.

Three contenders have pulled petitions in the three Arlington school board races but none has filed so far.

PROPERTY SALES 92 480 7,835
MORTGAGES 115 551 8,785
BUILDING PERMITS 325 1,167 17,068
BANKRUPTCIES 39 311 5,159