Eschewing the opportunity to comment on Tuesday’s announcement by Democratic rival Harold Byrd, a political veteran and Bartlett banker, Malone said she expected others to jump in the race, including some survivors from the current special election race for Memphis mayor.
“I really can’t be too concerned with that,” Malone said. She offered a lament that outgoing county mayor A C Wharton, a candidate for city mayor, might not serve out his term, but said she expected to up the ante as his successor. “Mayor Wharton is a nice guy, and he’s been a good leader, but in me you’ll see a little more fight,” Malone said. She named education and health as two of her foremost issues and promised to work well with the county’s law enforcement arm.
Recalling with some chagrin her first run for public office — in 1995 when she was a candidate for the District 5 school board position -- Malone said, “Lora Jobe beat me like I’d stole something!” Of her two terms on the commission, Malone, who just completed a year as chairman, acknowledged that “it took me 3 ½ years to get it.” She said she learned how to work with other commissioners and expressed surprise and delight that she was able to get an ordinance passed proclaiming a moratorium on new developments.
“I’ve proven my ability to work with people who don’t live in the city,” said Malone, a steadfast proponent of consolidation (though she acknowledges it will be a "tough sell"). “As far as leadership, I offer that. I’m not afraid of much. I really don’t back down from much.”
One thing she didn’t back down from on Wednesday was her resolve to fill important vacancies with Democrats, even if the vacancies were in Republican-dominated areas. Malone, who voted with other Democrats to put fellow Democrat Matt Kuhn in former Republican commissioner David Lillard’s seat and unsuccessfully competed with Republican Joyce Avery for a second consecutive term as chair, said she “absolutely” would vote to put a Democrat in Republican Brian Kelsey’s District 83 state House seat if Kelsey wins election to the state Senate in a special election.
“That’s politics at a very high level. It could change the outlook of the House,” she said. I’m not one for tradition. I don’t believe it exists. You make the right decision for the people you represent.”
Later Wednesday, Malone was the beneficiary of a fundraiser at the University of Memphis area Holiday Inn on Central. A sizeable crowd, including several fellow commissioners and Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery, attended the event.