Terry Roland, the Millington grocer and conservative Republican who came within a few votes in late 2005 of winning a special election in a predominantly black state Senate District, is a candidate again — this time for District 4, Position 3 on the Shelby County Commission.
Roland, the beneficiary of a Saturday afternoon fundraiser picnic at the Arlington home of current Republican commissioner Joyce Avery, is campaigning actively for the job, hoping to sew up GOP support so as to have minimal or no opposition for the position in 2010. He isn’t worried about whatever Democrat will run against him in the overwhelmingly Republican district.
In fact, he’d just as soon have as his opponent Matt Kuhn, the Democrat who won a controversial interim appointment to the seat from the commission’s majority Democrats back in February after the former Republican incumbent, David Lillard, left for Nashville to become state treasurer.
Discoursing to a group of supporters as they all sat in lawn chairs, Roland said, “Matt’s a nice guy, but he’s trying to climb a ladder, and I don’t think he can vote the way the people of that district want him to vote. I asked him was he keeping my seat warm. He said he wasn’t going to run. But I hope he does run. I’ve welcomed him to. We need some real, honest dialogue.”
Roland spent much of his conversational time making the case against city/county consolidation and clearly intends to make opposition to it a major theme of his election campaign. “If we consolidate, not only are the people going to leave, but the businesses will be right behind them. They’ll be following their taillights,” he tells his audience. He mentions Covington to the north, Oakland to the east, and DeSoto County to the south as the principal beneficiaries of consolidation.
“It’s good for the Tipton County Chamber of Commerce,” he says. “If we consolidate, we’ll end up like East St. Louis or Detroit, because the people will be gone.” He offers a glimmer of hope. Since several plants have shut down in Tipton County, officials there will have to raise property taxes to pay for overdue improvements in infrastructure. “Now is the time for us to make our move, and lower ours” as a means of coaxing self-exiled Shelby Countians back onto home turf.
More obiter dicta from Roland on Saturday:
· On Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton’s current “listening tour” of the county to advocate consolidation: “It’s supposed to be his listening tour, but it's us listening to him. He doesn’t want to listen to us.”
· On Wharton’s original plan to balance the county budget by laying off county employees: “He has 188 county attorneys, all of them drawing money. Instead of cutting two or three hundred people trying to feed a family, why doesn’t he cut them?”
· On the recent vote on the commission for an anti-discrimination resolution, spoken for by former commissioner Walter Bailey and based on an ordinance originally sponsored by Commissioner Steve Mulroy: “Walter Bailey was the very best at what he did. He got up there talking about anti-discrimination. But I told him, 'You got to be the biggest hypocrite I’ve ever seen in my life. You’re the same Walter Bailey that got on the Mike Fleming Show and said I didn’t deserve to be senator in District 29 because I was white! “
· On Mulroy’s motives: “He knows it’s getting close to election time. The problem I have with anybody doing that is putting their fellow man and their community at risk. You get people mad at each other, which could really be avoided, a battle that doesn’t need to be fought. We could make this a better world if we didn’t have people on both sides of the aisle stirring up trouble”