District Attorney General Bill Gibbons
stirred the pot and thickened the plot of the forthcoming Shelby County Mayors race Monday by announcing the formation of an exploratory committee, headed by Attorney David Kustoff
, to look into the race.
Gibbons becomes the first name Republican candidate to take even this semi-official step, and his action will presumably be sufficient to keep at bay other GOP possibilities -- like former city councilman John Bobango
and current councilman Jack Sammons
, both of whom have indicated they would run only if Gibbons didnt.
Gibbons statement reads as follows:..
Today I am filing the necessary paperwork to form an exploratory committee for the upcoming
campaign for mayor of Shelby County.
Attorney David Kustoff will serve as chairman and treasurer of the exploratory committee
David has served as chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party and was Tennessee
manager of the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000. I value greatly his advice. I have also retained
the services of the Ingram Group, a statewide public affairs firm to assist during the exploratory
Our county faces many challenges m the coming years. It is essential that we have a county
mayor who is focused on reducing crime, improving schools and strengthening our
neighborhoods. If' we build a reputation as a safe community with good schools and strong
neighborhoods, we will be a community where residents want to remain and others will want to
live, we will be a community where existing businesses want to stay and expand, and new
businesses will want to locate.
While we have made significant progress in the fight against crime, our crime rate remains far
too high Those on the front line lack the necessary resources to ensure a dramatic reduction in
our crime rate.
We must have a county mayor committed to a dramatic reduction in crime. The mayor is in a
position to take the lead in ensuring enough prosecutors to quickly and effectively hold criminals
accountable and in providing the necessary treatment dollars to move non-violent drug addicts
away from crime and into productive lives
More than 60 of our public schools have been officially rated as failures, The status quo in our
schools is not acceptable. We must be open to new, innovative approaches such as increased
public school choice, which would promote healthy competition among our schools. We must
have a strong county mayor who is willing to tie support for increased funding to a commitment
to fundamental changes and to high expectations for the children of our community, especially
disadvantaged children whose only hope is a good education.
We must have a mayor who is committed to revitalizing existing inner city neighborhoods while
at the same time insuring the proper kind of growth through the development of new, well
planned neighborhoods with long-term stability.
In the coming weeks, I will be considering very carefully what I could do as the next county
mayor to deliver less crime, better schools and stronger neighborhoods. I will also consider what
I feel I can accomplish by remaining district attorney. I will make my decision based upon a
careful look at how I can have the strongest positive impact on our community."
-- JACKSON BAKER