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VOL. 132 | NO. 230 | Monday, November 20, 2017

County Primary Filing Opens With Paperwork Flurry

By Bill Dries

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Incumbent Shelby County Commissioners Van Turner, Eddie Jones, Willie Brooks and Reginald Milton -- left to right -- were among 37 prospective candidates in the May county primaries who pulled qualifying petitions Friday. (Daily News/Bill Dries)

A total of 37 prospective candidates in the May 2018 county primaries pulled qualifying petitions last week on the first day of the filing period Friday, Nov. 17.

And the first contenders through the doors at the Shelby County Election Commission in a period that extends to a February deadline confirms a few trends.

The open positions with no incumbent seeking re-election, including six county commission seats, are drawing a lot of the attention early on.

Most of the Republican incumbents holding countywide offices are seeking other offices in 2018. Most of that is because they are term-limited.

That is the case with County Clerk Wayne Mashburn who pulled a petition on the first day, to run for County Register.

Incumbent register Tom Leatherwood, who is also term-limited, intends to run for Circuit Court Clerk as Jimmie Moore decides not to seek re-election in 2018. The circuit court clerk’s office is not among the offices that are term-limited under terms of the county charter.

Meanwhile, Republican John Edward Lackey Jr. pulled a petition Friday for Circuit Court Clerk.

The same day that Mashburn pulled his petition for register, four contenders pulled for the position he currently holds.

Arnold Weiner and Danny Kail picked up for the Republican primary and Jamal Whitlow and Shelandre Ford in the Democratic primary.

Weiner is a long-time member of the local GOP’s steering committee. Kail, an attorney, is making his debut in the Republican primaries after a unsuccessful bid for Probate Court Judge in 2014 in the nonpartisan race and an unsuccessful bid for Probate Court Clerk in the 2010 Democratic primary. Kail has been active in the local Republican party and campaigns since then.

Whitlow is a former employee of the clerk’s office who is currently owner of “Privileged Memphis – a company that hosts workshops on brand management and business development. He is also a motivational speaker and was a member of the former Beale Street Tourism Development Authority.

Ford is a county employee and CEO of Creative Graphic Designs. She also pulled a petition to run for Register.

Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliatos, whose office is not term-limited, pulled a petition on opening day in the Republican primary for Shelby County Mayor along with Democrats Sidney Chism, a former Shelby County commissioner, Nora Catron and Javius Wicks.

Three contenders pulled petitions for the Juvenile Court clerk’s office – Republican Robert Hill, director of governmental and legislative affairs in the Trustee’s office, and Bartlett alderman Bobby Simmons, also in the Republican primary, as well as Democrat Harold C. Smith, assistant principal of Crump Elementary School.

Hill’s boss, Trustee David Lenoir is running for Shelby County Mayor in the Republican primary and is term-limited as Trustee.

Dexter Orman, of Arlington, a staff accountant at Leading Edge Professionals Inc. and consultant, pulled his qualifying petition on opening day in the Republican primary for Trustee.

Incumbent Probate Court Clerk Paul Boyd pulled Friday for re-election starting with the Republican primary. And by the end of the day he had two prospective challengers – George D. Summers, a county support services employee, in the Republican primary and Memphis City Council member Bill Morrison in the Democratic primary.

Morrison is the second city council member expected to make the 2018 county primary ballot. Fellow council member Edmund Ford Jr., who like Morrison is term-limited from seeking re-election to the council in the 2019 city elections, is running for the District 9 commission seat currently held by his cousin, Justin Ford. Jonathan Lewis, an appraiser with the Assessor’s office, pulled Friday in the same primary.

Justin Ford is also term-limited on the county side. He is one of five commissioners who are term-limited.

If Morrison and Ford make it to the 2018 county general election in August and win there, it would create two vacancies on the 13-member city council that the council would fill by appointment.

And more than a few politicos have speculated that Justin Ford might try for the appointment to his cousin’s current seat on the council in what would be switch between the two.

The race for Sheriff where incumbent Republican Bill Oldham is term-limited started to take shape on the first day of the filing period with Chief Deputy Floyd Bonner pulling his petition for the Democratic primary and former SCSO supervisor and current director of the county office of preparedness, Dale Lane, pulling in the Republican primary.

Five Shelby County Commission incumbents elected to their first terms in 2014 pulled qualifying petitions Friday – Republican Mark Billingsley and Democrats Van Turner, Reginald Milton, Eddie Jones and Willie Brooks.

Turner, Milton, Jones and Brooks walked over to the Election Commission’s Downtown office together from the Vasco Smith Administration Building to get their petitions.

Four of the five were without a challenge as opening day ended, with most of the other petitions for county commission pulled in the races for the six open seats with no incumbent.

Brooks drew a potential challenge for the District 6 commission seat with Jonathan Lang Smith, an economic development specialist with Memphis city government, pulling in the Democratic primary.

Amber Mills of Arlington, a member of the local Republican party’s steering committee and the wife of county party chairman Lee Mills, has a petition for the Republican primary. J. Racquel Collins of Millington, the assistant dean of the new Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in the Democratic primary for District 1. That is the seat Republican Terry Roland holds. Roland will be joining Touliatos and Lenoir in the Republican primary for county mayor.

Shelandre Ford pulled a third petition for the Democratic primary in commission District 5, the seat currently held by Republican Heidi Shafer. Richard Morton, of the Probate Court Clerk’s office, pulled for the seat in the Republican primary.

As expected Democrat Tammi Sawyer and Republican Sam Goff pulled petitions for what could be a key general election match up for the District 7 commission seat now held by Democrat Melvin Burgess. Burgess has said he will run in the Democratic primary for Assessor where he is expected to be joined by attorney Shawn Lynch, who works for current assessor Cheyenne Johnson.

Republican Chip Trouy, deputy administrator of appraisal operations for the Assessor’s office, pulled for Assessor on opening day.

Democrat Mickell Lowery pulled his petition for commission District 8, the seat currently held by Democrat Walter Bailey, who is term limited. So did Daryl Lewis, president of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, in the same primary. They are expected to be joined by J. B Smiley Jr., an attorney, who kicks off his campaign Monday.

And Democrat Charles Belenky, a retiree from California’s Department of Transportation who has been active in the local Sierra Club since moving to Memphis in 2016, pulled for commission District 13. Republican incumbent Steve Basar is not term-limited.

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