Opinion » Editorial

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

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"He's a fine person. He'd be a credit to any community he offered his services to." This comment was made last week about Lee Harris, one of two candidates in the runoff election for city council District 7. Who said it? Kemba Ford, Harris' opponent. And Harris has been equally complimentary in his public remarks about Ford. "I think we both care," he said toward the end of the campaign.

The election schedule being what it is — with the polls scheduled to close on Thursday, election day, at 7 p.m. — some of you are reading this before this race is decided, others after the outcome is known. We just wanted to make sure that our vote was recorded, not on the winner of the race (the Flyer traditionally does not make endorsements) but on how this special election campaign was waged.

As the foregoing makes clear, the candidates deported themselves with a class and distinction and regard for each other that is unusual anywhere these days, when vitriol and innuendo and "opposition research" have become routine ingredients of the election process.

Though the same cannot be said for all of the supporters of either candidate, Harris and Ford eschewed the negative and focused to an unusual degree on issues and matters of their own personal qualifications. Both mounted serious, energetic campaigns, going door-to-door and availing themselves of other standard devices — mailers, robocalls, district forums, etc. — for reaching their intended constituents.

This is all to the good, something we can — and do — endorse.

Not everything on our local political scene this week is so commendable. As we go to press, the word is that Mayor Richard Hodges of Millington has offered to resign as of mid-January, following an indictment on bribery charges and negative publicity, which apparently prompted members of the city's board of aldermen to request Hodges' departure. It would be an understatement to say such a step has been merited, even pre-trial, by the mayor's activities, including what appears to be a questionable relationship with a local transmission-shop owner involving gambling debts and traded favors and threats between the two.

Still, Hodges is doing the right thing by resigning. We can endorse that, too. Latterly, we have to admit, we've had an eye down to our immediate south, where the voters in Mississippi were faced this week with a ballot issue asking them to decide on the legal status of "personhood," equating that aspect of citizenship with the fact of sperm-egg fertilization. This issue, we believe, should never have been on a ballot at all, inasmuch as its actual provenance is not electoral, but (pick one) theological, medical, scientific, or judicial.

And, finally, we find it ironic — and shameless — that Tennessee state government is now apparently using federal funds provided under HAVA (the Help American Vote Act) to popularize a dubious photo-ID law when the state's current Republican caretakers declined to use these funds for an intended earlier purpose — to implement TVCA (the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act), a paper-trail measure that was postponed, then killed by GOP legislators.

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