City Council/Mayor: Haves, Have-nots




(Note to readers. An earlier version of this post contained incomplete or inaccurate information from the Shelby County Election Commission stating that Reid Hedgepeth had not filed his second-quarter financial report. At the request of the Flyer, Election Commission administrator Richard Holden is investigating. This post will be updated.)

The 12 members of the Memphis City Council seeking reelection on October 6th list cash balances of zero to $90,119 and loans up to $170,000.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, an odds-on favorite for reelection, has $274,954.

The forms were due July 12th. Council chairman Myron Lowery filed Friday morning, four days late. He said he files two forms, one as council member and another from his previous mayoral campaign, and the online information led him to believe that both were due July 15th. A stickler for detail, Lowery said it was a simple misunderstanding.

A clerk at the Shelby County Election Commission said the state can assess penalties but there is a seven-day grace period. In reality, nobody on the council has ever received so much as a slap on the wrist for failing to file on time or for failing to file complete information, and the mainstream media is oblivious.

But money matters, and voters and, especially, challengers should pay attention. It buys advertising, fundraisers, research, campaign workers, and yard signs. With turnouts generally dismal, a well-funded candidate and a candidate with name recognition has an advantage. A healthy war chest can deter challengers. By the same token, an incumbent with no serious challengers doesn't have to raise much money.

Bottom line: If you don't pay attention then don't bitch.

All council incumbents are running for reelection except for Barbara Swearengen Ware, who resigned. The city election will also include the mayoral race and some judicial races.

This is a squirrely election year in some ways.

The deadline for candidates to file is July 21st. Early voting starts a few weeks before the election, which is going to make it especially hard for challengers because this is a redistricting year, and the district boundaries won't be finalized until the council meets on July 19th. Some potential candidates don't know which district they will wind up in. In the proposed redistricting, downtown, for example, is split but there is some pressure being exerted to put it back together.

That is also the day on which candidates to replace Ware will make their pitches to the council, which will appoint an interim replacement who will serve through December. The appointee will have a leg up in October should he or she decide to seek a full term. The appointee (like every member, for that matter) will be a potential swing vote on a council currently consisting of six white and six blacks.

Here is a list of council incumbents and their reported cash balance and loans, if any.

Bill Boyd: $1,428.
Joe Brown: $4,163.
Kemp Conrad: $71,260, $38,633 in loans.
Harold Collins: $25,421.
Shea Flinn: $164, $170,000 in loans.
Janice Fullilove: $603, $5,854 in loans and obligations.
Ed Ford Jr.: $11,320, $9,074 in loans.
Wanda Halbert: $0.
Reid Hedgepeth: $54,560, $22,459 in loans.
Myron Lowery: $2,804.
Bill Morrison: $22,257.
Jim Strickland, $90,119, $40,747 in loans.

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