VOL. 133 | NO. 35 | Friday, February 16, 2018
Two County Commissioners Re-elected At May Ballot Filing Deadline
By Bill Dries
Two Democratic county commissioners effectively won re-election to new terms of office at the Thursday, Feb. 15, filing deadline for candidates on the May 1 county primary ballot. And a third faces independent opposition in the August county general election.
Commissioners Van Turner and Willie Brooks had no opposition at the filing deadline – Democratic, Republican or independent.
Democratic commissioner Reginald Milton had no Democratic or Republican opposition but faces independent Vontyna Durham on the August ballot.
The candidates who made Thursday’s deadline have another week to withdraw from the ballot if they wish. Then the Shelby County Election Commission will certify and set the ballot. Early voting is April 11-26 and election day is May 1.
The filing period for independent candidates who bypass the May primaries and go directly to the August county general election ballot continues to noon April 5. But since county government went to partisan primaries in 1992, no independent has been elected to any commission seat or any other county office.
Some Democratic or Republican contenders facing only independent opposition regard the presence of independent candidates as an excuse to continue campaign fundraising deeper into the campaign season.
Democrats fielded candidates in every one of the 13 commission races.
In the May 2010 county primaries, there were six Democratic primaries for the commission with no candidates and six Republican primaries for the commission with no candidates, leaving one set of competing Republican and Democratic primaries. The commission was also a set of four multi-member districts and one single member district at the time.
The two local parties in effect avoided a challenge of a seat held by the other party and let the single-member district be the swing district for the partisan majority.
The commission changed four years later.
By then, the commission had redistricted into a set of 13 single-member districts.
In the May 2014 county primaries Democrats were without primary candidates in three of the 13 commission races with the candidate in a fourth primary dropping out of the race even though his name remained on the ballot. And Republicans had no candidates in four of the commission primaries in 2014.
In the 2010 and 2014 county general elections, Democrats retained a seven-seat majority on the commission. But every Democratic nominees for countywide office in 2010 lost to the Republican nominee and every countywide Democratic nominee except incumbent Assessor Cheyenne Johnson lost to the Republican nominee in 2014. The Assessor’s race switched in 2014 from the other even-year county election cycle.
In the primaries for the 10 countywide offices on the ballot in May and August, Memphis City Council member Bill Morrison effectively became the Democratic nominee for Probate Court Clerk by virtue of no opposition in the May primary. Incumbent Republican Paul Boyd has two challengers in the Rep primary in former clerk Chris Thomas and George Dempsy Summers.
Incumbent Republican Criminal Court Clerk Richard DeSaussure, unopposed in the May primary faces the winner of a three-way Democratic primary among Heidi Kuhn, Carla Stotts-Hills and Amanda Scott Hill in the August general.
Dale Lane is unopposed in the Republican primary for Sheriff and faces the winner between Floyd Bonner and Bennie Cobb in the Democratic primary. Incumbent Republican Sheriff Bill Oldham is term-limited.
Outgoing County Clerk Wayne Mashburn, who is term-limited in that position, became the Republican nominee for Register by virtue of having no primary opposition at the deadline. He will face the winner in the Democratic primary between Adrienne Pakis-Gillon and Shelandra Ford for the position now held by Republican Tom Leatherwood.
Leatherwood is term-limited in that position and is running in the Republican primary for Circuit Court Clerk, Incumbent Republican clerk Jimmy Moore, who is not term-limited is not seeking re-election.
Past the primaries and the general election, the county commission will have at least seven new faces by virtue of seven incumbents who are not seeking re-election – five because of term limits. Incumbent Republican David Reaves opted not to run for a second term and Republican George Chism is running for Trustee.
Races for two of the commission seats moved directly to a general election match-up Tuesday with contenders in the primaries running unopposed.
Democrat Tom Carpenter and Republican David Bradford each advance to the August general where the race for Commission District 2 will be decided. Bradford finished second to Chism in the 2014 primaries.
Commission District 4 is a general election race between Republican incumbent Mark Billingsley and Democratic challenger Kevin Haley.
Sam Goff is the Republican nominee in commission District 7 with no primary opposition. The Democratic primary is a three-way race among Tami Sawyer, Eric Dunn and Stephanie Gatewood.