Joy Touliatos announces for County Mayor as prominent backers John Bobango and Brent Taylor look on.
As of Thursday, there's a race on for the Republican nomination for Shelby County Mayor. With conspicuous backing from some GOP luminaries of the past and present, two-term Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliatos, stressing the issues of public safety, taxes, and education, announced for Mayor at a press conference at Waterford Plaza.
Among the family and well-wishers looking on were former Memphis City councilman and Shelby County Commissioner Brent Taylor and former Councilman John Bobango, both of whom will have major roles in the Touliatos campaign (as treasurer and co-chair, respectively), her political consultant Steven Reid, and Shelby County Clerk Wayne Washburn.
In her announcement statement, Touliatos had this to say about her major campaign priorities: "First and foremost crime and public safety will be the most important priority of my administration. Second, we need to lower property taxes by making Shelby County Government smaller and more efficient. Third, we must attract new business and create new jobs. And that requires an education system that prepares our kids for college but also recognizes the need to prepare young adults for the workforce. "
Acknowledging the head start, campaign-wise, of Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland, who announced for mayor more than a year ago and maintains a high public profile, Touliatos expressed confidence in her ability to bridge the name-recognition gap.
It has long been assumed that County Trustee David Lenoir will also be a candidate for County Mayor, though Lenoir has not yet announced and is rumored also to be looking at the state Senate seat currently held by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville, who has been nominated for a federal judgeship by President Trump.
It is probably not coincidental that, during the course of budget negotiations on the County Commission this year, Roland found occasion to fault the spending priorities of both the Trustee's office and the Juvenile Court Clerk's office.
In a three-way contest with Roland and Lenoir, both high-powered political figures with presumed support in influential Republican Party circles, Touliatos, who can make claims of her own on GOP loyalists, would conceivably have an advantage with female Republican voters.
Meanwhile, as the blanks are being filled in on the Republican side, the picture among potential Democratic aspirants is more opaque, Former County Commissioner and erstwhile political broker Sidney Chism has advertised his likely candidacy, and outgoing Commission chairman Melvin Burgess has also expressed an interest in running.
Two other possible Democratic candidates, University of Memphis law professor and former County Commissioner Steve Mulroy and state Senator Lee Harris, are apparently both deliberating on an entry into th e mayoral race. Whichever one makes the plunge can count on the support of the other.
And there could be a Democratic wild card — former City Councilman and current Chamber of Commerce vice president Shea Flinn, whose name was prominent among those of candidates being asked about in a recently run telephone robo-poll.