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VOL. 133 | NO. 28 | Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Filing, Fundraising Pace Quickens in County Elections

By Bill Dries

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Two of the five major contenders for Shelby County mayor in the May 1 primaries have six-figure campaign war chests and a third is just a few thousand dollars away.

That’s according to campaign finance statements filed last week with the Shelby County Election Commission for the period July 1, 2017, to the end of 2017.

Republican contender and outgoing County Trustee David Lenoir has $345,437 in cash on hand. He raised $232,740 from July 1 to the end of 2017 and had another $164,946 in his account at the start of July. He spent $52,248 for the period that began in July.

Republican contender for county mayor Terry Roland told supporters last week in Millington that his experience as a county commissioner should make up for a gap in his fundraising. Primary rivals David Lenoir and Joy Touliatos each have campaign war chests of six figures. And Democrat Lee Harris is close to the mark. (Daily News/Bill Dries)

Republican contender and outgoing Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliatos reported $210,055 in her campaign account at the end of 2017. The $225,558 she raised starting in July included a $15,000 transfer from her clerk campaign account and another $100,000 she loaned her campaign. Touliatos spent $15,503 during the period.

Democratic contender and state Sen. Lee Harris has $92,259 in the bank and raised $108,486 in the July-January period, spending $16,227.

With the Feb. 15 deadline for candidates to file their qualifying petitions for a place on the ballot, the candidates will be spending more as well as raising more money in the appeal to voters up to the April 11-26 early voting period.

“I’m going to raise enough money to do what we need to do,” county commissioner and Republican contender for mayor Terry Roland told a group of 40 supporters last week at a Millington fundraiser. “But money ain’t going to buy this election. … All of them put together ain’t got enough behind them as far as having a record as we do.”

Roland’s report showed he has $16,319 on hand. He raised $32,165 for the period and had another $9,055 going into July. He has spent $24,900.

Roland says his advantage is his experience as a county commissioner for eight years in a form of government where the commission has more oversight over the mayor than the City Council has over the Memphis mayor.

“It’s not about who can manage,” he said, referring to Lenoir and Touliatos. “It’s about who can manage and make things happen. … I know it is going to take a relationship between me and the commission to get things done.”

Former Shelby County commissioner and Democratic contender Sidney Chism reported $8,107 on hand at the end of 2017 after raising $10,550 and spending $2,443.

The winners of the May primaries for 23 county offices advance to the August county general elections.

The Shelby County Commission will see a turnover of a majority of its 13 seats no matter who wins – at least seven. Five of the current incumbents are term-limited, Republican David Reaves decided not to seek a second term and Republican George Chism is running for trustee.

The two busiest county commission primary races so far are all Democratic affairs. Seven citizens have pulled petitions in the Democratic primary for District 9, the seat Democratic incumbent Justin Ford is giving up because of term limits and to run for state Senate in the August primaries.

Through last week, city council member Edmund Ford Jr., Justin Ford’s cousin, had filed along with Jonathan M. Lewis, an appraiser with the Shelby County Assessor’s office.

No one has pulled a petition for the companion Republican primary.

The District 8 commission seat has drawn five likely candidates to date – all in the Democratic primary. The seat is currently held by Democrat Walter Bailey, who is term-limited.

So far, Mickell Lowery and J.B. Smiley Jr. have filed. Lowery, who ran for Memphis City Council in 2015, is chairman of the Memphis Housing Authority board. Smiley is an attorney with his own law practice and a founder of the neighborhood investment fund S&F Unlimited LLC.

By contrast, District 4 Republican incumbent Mark Billingsley has no primary or Democratic opposition at this point.

And the race for Chism’s District 2 seat has one contender, David Clyde Bradford Jr. of Collierville, in the Republican primary. Bradford is senior principal at SSR mechanical engineering firm.

Going into the last full week for candidates to file their qualifying petitions for the May 1 county primary ballot, a total of 95 petitions had been pulled by prospective candidates and 43 had been filed.

The race for Shelby County Clerk has drawn the most interest of any race to date with 10 petitions pulled for the office now held by Republican Wayne Mashburn, who is term-limited and running in the Republican primary for Register of Deeds.

Four candidates have filed: Democrats Jamal Whitlow and Mondell Williams along with Republicans Arnold Weiner and Sohelia Kail.

Whitlow is an event promoter who served on the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority. Williams is service manager at Independent Realtors Trust.

Weiner works in the Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk’s office and is a long-time member of the local Republican Party Steering Committee. Kail is a manager and auditor for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

In the race for County Trustee there are nine potential contenders with petitions out.

Chism is the only candidate of either party to file for the office as of last week. There are two other potential contenders for the Republican primary – Attorney Keith Alexander, who was the Republican nominee for Property Assessor in 2014, and Dexter L. Orman of Arlington, a staff accountant at Leading Edge Professionals Inc.

The six Democrats with petitions out include attorney and former Trustee Regina Morrison Newman, whom Lenoir beat in 2010 to claim the office; former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division president Joseph Lee; Rhonda Munn Banks, the Democratic nominee for Circuit Court Clerk in the 2014 elections; Derrick Bennett, the Democratic nominee for Trustee in 2014; M. LaTroy Williams, a perennial candidate and owner of several different endorsement ballots who has sometimes claimed to be the Democratic nominee even after losing the primary election; and David Vinciarelli, who has run for numerous offices in recent years.

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751