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It's D-Day to Decide New County Commissioner

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Will he or won't he? That's a question that will be answered one way or another on Monday by the Shelby County Commission....No, strike that, it's several questions that will be answered any of several different ways on Monday by the commission, which will name a successor to former District 4 commissioner David Lillard, now the treasurer of the state of Tennessee. (And there's a she or two who figure into the question, as well.)

(1) Will Steve Mulroy, the commission's Great Articulator, channel Profiles in Courage or play point guard for the Democratic majority that wants to overturn recent tradition and vote one of its own into an historical Republican seat? (Whichever course he takes, Mulroy is sure to enunciate it in terms that sound like part-Socratic dialogue and part Supreme-Court decision.)

(2) Will J.W. Gibson, the erstwhile Republican and current Democratic member, shift to party hopeful Matt Kuhn if his first choice, activist Adrienne Pakis-Gillon, fails to make it to a second ballot?

(3) Will veteran Democrat Joe Ford stand by his reported decision to vote with the Republicans in defense of the endangered tradition?

(4) Will Linda Kerley, the former longtime Collierville mayor, become a fallback choice that members of both parties can vote for if the Republican consensus candidate, former commissioner Tommy Hart of Collierville (who pronounced himself "shovel-ready") fails to make it?

(5) Will Sidney Chism, a Democrat who reportedly has been trying to arrange horse trades with Republican commissioners so as to succeed fellow Democrat Deidre Malone as chairman next year, vote with his party or cut his own deal?

(6) Will any other candidates from the nine who formally submitted applications to the commission stand a chance? For the record, that would include: John R. Bogan, a newcomer to politics who now works as a real estate appraiser in the Assessor's office; Jim Bomprezzi, a former Lakeland mayor who has run for the commission seat before; Rudolph Daniels, a widely traveled computer consultant; Chris Price, who sold his Ford dealership in the last several weeks and has been backed by Pete Aviotti, an aide to Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton; and Terry Roland, a store-owner well-known for a nearly successful race against state Senator Ophelia Ford.

All the applicants managed impressive moments in public interviews with the commission last week. Some of them, like contenders Kerley and Hart, pronounced themselves satisfied to be interim appointees, serving only until the next regularly scheduled countywide election in 2010. Others, like Kuhn, a former Democratic Party chairman whose father Brian is the current county attorney, haven't decided whether they'd be candidates in 2010; and still others have — like Roland, who heartily announced to the other contenders, "I'm gonna run, and if you're gonna run, you better have your game on."

All are at least nominal Republicans except for Kuhn and Pakis-Gillon. All professed themselves willing to work across the aisle to achieve common results with members of the other party. On the eve of the voting, members of both parties were touting Kuhn as the likely winner. But other possibilities exist.

Since the GOP's Lillard has already vacated his seat, the voting strength of the two parties is 7 to 5 in favor of the Democrats. Though, as mentioned, Hart and Kerley are the Republicans with the best chance of forestalling a Democratic win by these numbers alone, some of the others could turn out to be long shots under circumstances of prolonged balloting.

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