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VOL. 133 | NO. 36 | Monday, February 19, 2018

County Primary Ballot Includes Partisan Match-Ups, Automatic Wins

By Bill Dries

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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.

View/download Candidates in May 1 County Primaries (PDF)

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 county office.

Democrats fielded candidates in every one of the 13 commission races.

In the May 2010 county primaries, six Democratic primaries for commission seats had no candidates and six Republican primaries had no candidates, leaving only one competing Republican and Democratic primary.

At the time, the commission had four multi-member districts and one single-member district. The commission changed four years later, being redistricted into 13 single-member districts.

In the May 2014 primaries, Democrats had no candidates in three of the 13 commission races – a candidate in a fourth primary dropping out of the race – and Republicans had no candidates in four commission primaries.

In the 2010 and 2014 county general elections, Democrats retained a seven-seat majority on the commission. But every Democratic nominee for countywide office in 2010 lost to the Republican nominee and every countywide Democratic nominee except incumbent property assessor Cheyenne Johnson lost to the Republican nominee in 2014.

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 Republican primary in former clerk Chris Thomas and George Dempsy Summers.

For Criminal Court clerk, incumbent Republican Richard DeSaussure is unopposed in the May primary and faces the winner of a three-way Democratic primary among Heidi Kuhn, Carla Stotts-Hill and Amanda Scott Hill in August.

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 of deeds 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 is not term-limited, but is not seeking re-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 commission seats moved directly to a general election match-up with contenders in the primaries running unopposed.

Democrat Tom Carpenter and Republican David Bradford each advance to the August general election where the race for Commission District 2 will be decided.

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 Eric Dunn, Stephanie Gatewood and Tami Sawyer.

PROPERTY SALES 56 295 6,392
MORTGAGES 26 180 4,035
BUILDING PERMITS 128 840 15,361
BANKRUPTCIES 31 153 3,270