As Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter prepares to take his leave of the commission (and of Memphis) to become Tennessee state director of StudentsFirst, an educational think-tank in Nashville, there’s already a scramble on to become Carpenter’s interim replacement on the District 1, Position 3 commission seat.
District 1 straddles city and county lines and is a predominantly Republican voting area. Appropriately, then, the six known prospects as of the moment are all local Republicans well-known in both Memphis and its suburbs.
George Flinn, the eminent radiologist and broadcast magnate who vacated his own commission seat last year to run unsuccessfully for Congress in the 8th District;
John Willingham, another former commissioner, a local barbecue maven, and something of a perennial candidate in Memphis and Shelby County elections;
Marilyn Loeffel, yet another former commissioner, a former Commercial Appeal columnist, and mainstay of the socially conservative group F.L.A.R.E.;
Brian Stephens, a former member of the Shelby County Election Commission and a leading staffer for the pro-consolidation effort in last year’s city/county referendum on the issue of merging the Memphis and Shelby County governments;
Jack Sammons, a longtime former member of the Memphis City Council who served a stint as city CAO during the interim mayoralty of Myron Lowery in 2009;
Brent Taylor, another former City Councilman who was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in the 7th District in 2002.
Of these six, the most active in soliciting votes from members of the Commission, who will select the interim appointee sometime in October, is Flinn, who was very much in evidence in the County Building this week pressing the flesh with commissioners and, for that matter, with members of the audience during the commission’s interviews Wednesday with prospective members of the soon-to-be all-county School Boad.
The other mentioned hopefuls have also made pitches to commission members in one form or another — with the possible exception of Sammons, who has largely been boosted by his backers.
Word from members of the Commission is that applicants for the interim post may not be asked, as hopeful for interim positions have been in the past, to promise not to run for the fulltime position in August 2012.