Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Memphis Suffers Loss of Two Former Legislators

Posted By on Tue, Oct 22, 2019 at 9:05 AM

Former State Rep. Jones
  • Former State Rep. Jones
Even a
Former State Sen. Tate
  • Former State Sen. Tate
s members of Shelby County’s political community, Democrats and Republicans alike, were mourning the death on Sunday of one former legislator, Rufus Jones, a member of the state House of Representatives from 1980 to 1996, they found themselves having to deal with the loss of another on Monday, former state Senator Reginald Tate, whose tenure in the state Senate ran from 2006 to 2018.

Both Jones and Tate served as Democrats — Jones during a period in which his party commanded a comfortable majority in his chamber and in the legislature at large, Tate during an era of Republican control of both the Senate and the General Assembly. Both Jones and Tate had business backgrounds, Jones as a member of a South Memphis family with grocery interests, Tate as president/CEO of an architectural firm.

Each of them was personally popular on both sides of the aisle, and each served during period of political controversy that tested their commitment to pure partisanship. Jones’ case was less demanding in that regard. Along with a majority of other legislative Democrats, he found himself working in harmony with Republican Governor Don Sundquist in an effort, ultimately unsuccessful, to pass a state income tax.

Representative G.A. Hardaway, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus and often a Democratic spokesman at large, sized things up this way: “Rufus E. Jones served as a ready and willing source of reliable and sound advice for myself and other legislators. Our families were close, and that allowed me to personally witness and learn from an excellent exemplar of personal conduct, professional success and civic leadership.”

Tate’s situation was different. Lacking any party background as such, he had the support of his neighbor Sidney Chism, an influential Democrat and sometime party chairman, when the county Democratic Committee had to find a substitute nominee in 2006 for the Senate seat vacated by incumbent Kathryn Bowers, who would be tried as a suspect in the FBI’s Tennessee Waltz corruption sting.

Tate was nominated and won. He entered the Senate during a time when control of that body was swinging from Democrats to Republicans, and he seems to have perceived his duty, both to himself and to his district, as that of maintaining good relations with the soon-to-be dominant GOP. Legislative Republicans, for their part, made sure to get him aboard key committees. Increasingly, he was seen by fellow Democrats to be over-stepping political boundaries — even to the point of becoming a board member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) a right-wing mill for ultra-conservative state legislation.

Matters came to a head in 2018, when Tate was up for reelection to a fourth four-year term. Not only had he aroused the ire of his party mates with his ever-increasing number of conservative votes, he was overheard on a hot microphone apparently uttering profane criticism of his fellow Democrats.It was less a judgment on his part than a sign of frustration as he saw one after another member of his party caucus side openly with his Democratic primary opponent in 2018, Katrina Robinson, an accomplished newcomer and proprietor of a nursing school.

It cost him; Tate would go down to defeat by a 2 to 1 margin, Robinson polling 14,140 votes to his 6,464, and she would go on to serve effectively as a member of the Senate Democratic minority.

Still, there was little rejoicing in party ranks at Tate’s defeat. Even those who were opposed to his politics remained personally fond of the man whose people skills were of the highest order. Karen Camper, the Democrats’ House Leader, was a particular friend, as was Democratic caucus chair Raumesh Akbari, who said, “No matter what the legislative issue was, he found a way to work with folks from both sides of the aisle and always thought of Memphis first. Senator Tate had a way of always making you smile and I know he’s smiling down on all of us today.”

Shelby delegation chair Antonio Parkinson noted, “Senator Tate left an indelible mark on the state of Tennessee and its citizens through legislation that he sponsored and cosponsored over his many years at the Tennessee Legislature.”

Senator Sara Kyle, who had been an explicit critic of Tate, said “Senator Tate did many good things for the citizens of Shelby County during his time in the General Assembly and I was shocked and saddened to learn of his passing. We will all miss his smile and good sense of humor.” And Robinson, his electoral conqueror, also weighed in: “This is a sad day for Shelby County and our entire state. Thanks for 12 years of service to District 33.”

Funeral arrangements had not been announced at press time.

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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Anatomy of a "News Tip"

Posted By on Sun, Oct 20, 2019 at 1:41 PM

The first of our "news tips" — from September
  • The first of our "news tips" — from September
The Commercial Appeal, for which all of us in the local media have such affection and respect, chose — shades of yesteryear — to blow out a big expose on Sunday (for subscribers only) on the subject of "bogus ballots." This is the practice of several entrepreneurs at election time to hit up political candidates for stiff payments, in return for which the aforesaid candidates have their names and likenesses put on sample ballots that are passed out to unwitting voters as being legitimate expressions from organizations that sound like real— rather than fictitious — political organizations.

The CA's story was produced by no less than three authors and three editors and was generated, we are told in a footnote, by a "news tip" — further instances of which are solicited in the end note.

We'd like to be helpful with more tips, but, hey, we've already supplied at least four (listed below) — all of which appeared in the week or so before the October 3rd election, not on a slow-news Sunday, several weeks later.

For the record, the Flyer's stories on the subject are in "related stories" below this post. Here the direct links:





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Friday, October 4, 2019

Strickland Takes Easy Win for Mayor; Most Favorites Win Council Seats

Posted By on Fri, Oct 4, 2019 at 7:30 AM

There were few surprises in the major races. All the favorites won or led when the counting was done. Mayor Jim Strickland won reelection, going away, hitting his goal of 60 percent of the vote, with points to spare. Former Mayor Willie Herenton finished far behind in second, and County Commissioner Tami Sawyer was an even more distant third. Vote totals were Strickland: 59,886; Herenton, 27,694; Sawyer, 6,666.
Mayor Strickland receives congratulations by phone from runner-up Herenton at Botanic Gardens, as aide Ken Moody looks on.
  • Mayor Strickland receives congratulations by phone from runner-up Herenton at Botanic Gardens, as aide Ken Moody looks on.

Overall, suspense was hard to find in the results — though it existed here and there, notably in the neck-and-neck contest in Super District 9, Position 1, between Chase Carlisle, 23,421, and Erika Sugarmon, 22,890. Carlisle kept a slim lead all night, with Sugarmon edging up but just falling short.

If there was a major surprise, it was in the narrow victory of the half-cent sales tax referendum, destined to replenish the lost benefits of the city’s first responders. The vote was, For 49,676; Against, 44,948.

Other results; Rhonda Logan, the Raleigh CDC president who couldn’t get a Council majority last year to fill a vacancy in this North Memphis district, narrowly missed one Thursday, ending with a strong lead in a multi -candidate race over incumbent and second-place finisher Sherman Greer, who was the pick of the incumbent council members back then. She’ll take that edge into a runoff.Logan, 4,695; Greer, 3,684.

In District 2, Cordova and points east, incumbent Frank Colvett, 8,541, was a 2-1 victor over his closest challenger, Marvin White 5,295.

In District 3, Whitehaven, incumbent Patrice Robinson, 7,723, did even better, winning 3 -1 over Tanya Cooper, 2,634.

In District 4 — Orange Mound, Central Gardens — incumbent Jamita Swearengen, 7,151, was another winner, unexpectedly easily, over Britney Thornton, 3,194.

In District 5, Midtown and East Memphis, challenger John Marek, 7,572, had a last-minute win in court over a pair of pay-for-play sample ballots but lost at the polls to incumbent Worth Morgan, 11,397.

In District 6, South Memphis, riverfront, and Downtown, former seat-holder Edmond Ford Sr., 9,770, triumphed easily, as expected, over a large field, with Davon Clemons, 2,384, who was endorsed by Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, finishing far back in second.

Also as expected, controversial incumbent Berlin Boyd, 2,877, fell far short of a majority in District 7, North Memphis, Frayser, and will face a runoff with Michalyn C.S. Easter, 1,959.

There won’t, however, be a runoff in the tight race for Super District 8, Position 1, where Gerrie Currie, a fill-in incumbent from District 6, chose to yield that race to Ed Ford Sr. and tried instead for this seat, one of the at-large ones where runoffs are not allowed, by judicial decree. Currie, 11,324, was trimmed by lawyer J.B. Smiley, 14,464, who’s been angling upward in politics for a while.

Position 2 in Super District 8, the western or predominantly African-American at-large area, was easily held by incumbent Cheyenne Johnson, 21, 853, over nearest competitor Craig Littles, 7,490. And incumbent Martavius Jones, 19,865, who is used to squeaker elections, ran away from several opponents to hold on to Position 3. Closest competitor was R.S. Ford Sr., 11,340.

As indicated, Erika Sugarmon came close to winner Carlisle but earned no cigar in Position 1 of Super District 9, which is racially fairly closely divided but which, geographically, was originally designed to take in the once predominantly white part of the city.

In the Position 2 race, incumbent Ford Canale, 27,051, was able to win a majority, with challengers Mauricio Calvo, 9,277, and Deanielle Jones, 9,096, in a dead heat for second place.

And Dr. Jeff Warren, 22,467, the former Memphis School Board member who got off to a head start in the Position 3 race both financially and organizationally, won easily over second-place challenger University of Memphis development specialist Cody Fletcher, 13,918.

In the contest for City Court Clerk, it was inevitable that the race would come down to the candidates with most name identification — former councilmen Myron Lowery and Joe Brown. Lowery emerging as the winner — 34,544 to Brown’s 24,548.

There were two contested races for Municipal Court Judge, with incumbent Teresa Jones, 52,691, winning easily over LaTrena Davis-Ingram, 19,703, in Division 1, and Division 3 incumbent Jayne Chandler, 49,217, holding off Magistrate David Pool, 32,127, in Division 3. Incumbent Tarik Sugarmon, 74,177, was unopposed in Division 3.

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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Judge Declares Halt to Distribution of For-Profit Sample Ballots in City Election

Posted By on Thu, Oct 3, 2019 at 4:35 PM

John Marek
  • John Marek
A retired Jackson, Tennessee, Circuit Court jurist, stepping in where local Shelby County judges had feared (or chosen not) to tread, found on Thursday for the petitioners — John Marek, a candidate for the District 5 Memphis City Council seat; the Shelby County Democratic Party, and the Shelby County Young Democrats — for a temporary restraining order against further circulation of sample city ballots endorsing Marek’s opponent, Memphis City Council incumbent Worth Morgan, among several other endorsees.

The defendants in the case were Greg Grant and M. Latroy Alexandria-Williams, as well as the shell organizations — the Greater Memphis Democratic Club and the Shelby County Democratic Club, respectively — that are the nominal issuing instruments for their sample ballots.

The key point in the judgment against them was apparently their use of the term “Democratic,” in they are specifically enjoined from “distributing literature, disseminating information, or in any way communicating or utilizing words symbols, or graphical schemes reasonably implying endorsement of or affiliation with the Democratic National Committee, the Tennessee Democratic Party, or the Shelby County Democratic Party.”

The eleventh-hour judgment, which comes at the very tag-end of the voting cycle, was communicated to various polling locations by runners acting on behalf of the petitioners.

The judge, William B. Acree, did not issue a ruling on other aspects of the petitioners’ suit, including a request for judgment against the sample ballots’ use of the City of Memphis municipal seal.

Judge Acree acted after a hearing in the Shelby County Courthouse, not only issuing the T.R.O. but setting a hearing date of November 13th to consider such further prospects as “permanent injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and restitution for unjust enrichment.” If these additional penalties should be declared, not only would sample ballots of the sort that the defendants have employed in this and past elections be proscribed but the defendants’ profits from them, garnered by selling endorsement space to candidates for a fee, would be confiscated.

The defendants are among several entrepreneurs who historically have issued sample ballots including the names and mugshots of candidates who have paid the entrepreneurs handsomely for the honor of being so listed. The sample ballots have been mailed to potential voters and passed out in the vicinity of polling locations.

So widespread has been the practice in Memphis and Shelby County that all local judges chose to recuse themselves, either because they themselves had paid for such “endorsements” or out of solidarity with those who had.

The import of Judge Acree’s ruling, especially if it is embroidered on in November, could be a fatal blow against the practice, which defenders justify on the basis of the First Amendment, among other grounds.

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Friday, September 27, 2019

The "Freshman Class" of City Candidates: a Second Look

Posted By on Fri, Sep 27, 2019 at 12:38 PM

Among the factors that go into a successful political
Frank Johnson
  • Frank Johnson
campaign are significant financial backing, existence of a well-established network of support, and name recognition. Candidates who can boast those advantages generally do well. Candidates who do not have a much rougher time getting noticed.

There is an occasional new-face candidate who, by dint of hard work, luck, good helpers, and most importantly, a coherent and compelling platform, can transcend the lack of the advantages mentioned above.

Frank W. Johnson is one of several candidates in the current city election who began their efforts as lesser-known personalities taking on well-known incumbents for Memphis City Council positions. Not to put too fine a point on it, Johnson has quarreled with what he saw as an insignificant amount of attention paid his effort in my recently published pre-election review.

I have hashed the matter out on FaceBook with Mr.Johnson and other candidates with like complaints, who see themselves as representing a new broom of overdue reform — or, as one of them suggested, a “freshman class” of new energy and new ideas. And, having turned the matter around in my mind, I am somewhat convinced — enough so that I have begun to see some of these candidates as in fact deserving of a second look.

Candidate rosters in big elections are normally loaded up, as I put it in an earlier preview, with “hopeful dreamers — perennial candidates, unready first-timers, and a fair share of the outright deluded.” I think it is fair to say that, here and there, the “freshman class” of relatively unknown candidates this year represents yet another category, signifies in fact a legitimate insurgency.

To begin with the aforesaid Frank Johnson, who says: “I have taught school, worked on the primary board with the Shelby County Democrats [and have been] a grassroots committee representative for District 10. Also, I continue to work around the issue of environmental justice and the problems with lead in our drinking water.”

In several appearances, Johnson has made much of his upbringing in southeast Memphis, “next to the Defense Depot, one of the most contaminated areas in the city. He speaks convincingly of a history of contamination” and of serious, life-threatening illness experienced by his own mother and sister from the effect of “living next to mustard-gas canisters in the ground. As a teacher at Larose Elementary, he was aware that his students had lead in their drinking water. And in general Johnson has first-hand experience of ‘decades of trauma,” and his candidacy is in large part witness to this grim reality.

Johnson is also articulate on the subject of “gentrification,” which he defines as a way “they get us [the city’s underserved] out of our properties ... in both black and white areas.” He characterizes gentrification as “Reaganomics revisited,” a mode of development whereby “we give rich people money and hope they come back and give us some of that money.” He maintains, “Our Mayor’s offices, our Councils, our Commissions have all been compromised by this corporate money.

“There was a time in the ‘80s when there were grocery stores on every corner. There was equity in our communities, but we’ve been starved of money. They bait us with bags of money, wanting us to decorate our communities before they take them from us. We need to re-invest in our communities, renovate our homes, rehabilitate our schools, and pay a living wage."

Much of that indictment is rhetorical, of course, and needs to be documented with incontrovertible fact, but it speaks to a growing perception among many that developers now have a stranglehold on city government.

Johnson is no “moderate.” At the site of a recent AFL-CIO action, he unleashed some strong words. “Labor’s strong. Labor’s strong. ... I like to play shut-down every now and then. I was out there on that bridge a few years ago. Sometimes you not only got to shut things down, you got to cut things off, because they don’t get it. These rich and powerful people don’t understand that labor makes this country go. We didn’t get a 40-hour work week being nice to people. ... They shut down Henry Ford. They shut down Rockefeller. Labor shut down everybody. And guess what, we got to shut it down again.”

Johnson is running in a multi-candidate race for Position 2 of Super-District 8. His opponents include the redoubtable Cheyenne Johnson, the incumbent, who is generally regarded as a credit to the council and, during her electoral career as Shelby County Assessor, was able to win consistently as a Democrat, even during Republican-dominated election eras.

Others in the race are; Marinda Alexandria-Williams, Craig Littles, and Brian L. Saulsberry. Each of them, too, has a story to tell.

To Be Continued...

Thursday, September 26, 2019

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

A move to restrict a pay-for-play sample ballot runs into an unexpected judicial delay.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 5:03 PM

A consistent problem in Shelby County elections has been the distribution of sample ballots by political entrepreneurs who charge candidates for appearing on them.

Candidate John Marek, a well-known Democratic activist 
John Marek - JB
  • JB
  • John Marek
who is running for the District 5 City Council seat in the October 3 city election, was outraged when he saw one being mailed and passed out under the auspices of the “Greater Memphis Democratic Club,” a shell organization operated by entrpreneur Greg Grant that exists mainly to issue sample ballots.

Compounding Marek’s sense of injury was that his opponent, Worth Morgan, is a known Republican, as are three other candidates endorsed on the ballot. All four are official endorsees of the Shelby County Republican Party. A further issue is that the ballot employed several facsimiles of the official City of Memphis seal, a possible violation of both city and state codes.

Backed by the Shelby County Democratic Party and represented by civil liberties attorney Bruce Kramer, Marek undertook to get a Temporary Restraining Order against further distribution of the ballot in Chancery Court on Thursday. The plaintiffs were stymied. How?

Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins confessed that he would need to recuse himself because he had bought onto a previous election ballot distributed by Grant as well as one by another ballot entrepreneur, M. LaTroy Alexandria-Williams, also cited in the suit. The plaintiffs hope to seek redress from another judge in another court on Friday.

Marek said that the unexpected snafu was yet another instance of why the pay-for-play ballots should be restricted or banned.

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The "Bogus Ballot" Syndrome Again

A for-profit sample ballot calling itself "Democratic" and using official insignia draws fire.

Posted By on Sun, Sep 22, 2019 at 6:40 PM

The head of the "Greater Memphis Democratic Club" sample ballot  superimposed over several of its endorsees, including known Republicans and featuring City of Memphis official seals (circled) on several of the mugshots.
  • The head of the "Greater Memphis Democratic Club" sample ballot superimposed over several of its endorsees, including known Republicans and featuring City of Memphis official seals (circled) on several of the mugshots.

It wouldn’t be a local election without at least one case of the "Bogus-Ballot Syndrome" turning up, and, sure enough, there’s a brand-new example that District 5 City Council candidate John Marek is threatening legal action about.

Marek’s case in point is a printed sample ballot being mailed to households and passed out at early-voting polls bearing the imprimatur of the “Greater Memphis Democratic Club,” which may have some ersatz legal status but is known to be a shell organization, without members in the usual sense, that is conducted for profit for the benefit of its proprietors, the foremost of whom is political entrepreneur Greg Grant.

Grant’s is one of several such ballots that appears at election time, and it is no secret that many, if not all, of the endorsees for office listed on them paid good money to get there. Marek, in fact, says that he himself was solicited to purchase a place on the ballot and declined.

Despite being designated as being under “Democratic” auspices, the ballot features several candidates with known or suspected Republican identifies — including Council candidates Chase Carlisle, Ford Canale, and Worth Morgan, the latter, an incumbent, being Marek’s opponent.

Besides the matter of false political auspices, however, Marek also charges the Grant ballot with likely violations of city and state law, both of which, he says, prohibit the use of official governmental insignia. Several of the favored candidates on the ballot are pictured with facsimiles of the City of Memphis seal. On that account, Marek says he is considering filing an official injunction against further distribution of the ballot.

The Grant ballot, and other pay-for-play handouts like it, are not to be confused with sample ballots like the not-for-profit one openly sponsored by three Democratic public figures — Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen, Commissioner Van Turner, and former Democratic Party chairman David Cocke.

That ballot endorses Democrat Marek, among others.

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Judicial-Race Fireworks

Candidates let fly at each other in a public forum.

Posted By on Sun, Sep 22, 2019 at 8:37 AM

City Judge Candidates: (from left) Judge Teresa Jones, Municipal Court, Division 1; Candidate LaTrena Davis-Ingram, Division 1; Magistrate David Pool, candidate in Division 3; Judge Jayne Chandler, Division 3 - JB
  • JB
  • City Judge Candidates: (from left) Judge Teresa Jones, Municipal Court, Division 1; Candidate LaTrena Davis-Ingram, Division 1; Magistrate David Pool, candidate in Division 3; Judge Jayne Chandler, Division 3

As political forums go, those involving clerks and judges are usually the tamest. In the case of the judicial races, in particular, there are canons of conduct that prohibit overt promises or explicitly political sentiments. So the forum scheduled for Saturday at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Poplar was expected to be a relatively ho-hum affair. It wasn’t; in fact, it turned into a guerrilla combat of sorts.

The first segment involved three of the several candidates for City Court Clerk — current deputy clerk Delicia DeGraffreeed, clerk employee Carl A. irons II, and De Givens. Nothing much out of the ordinary occurred besides the candidates’ discussion of their credentials and a few aspects of the office. About a third of the way through the planned event, the clerk part of the forum ended, and the four candidates for the two contested city judge positions took their seats behind the table. Unexpectedly, that’s where the mayhem ensued.

It started off with Jayne Chandler, reigning judge in Municipal Court, Division 3, who sat on the far right, next to her opponent, Criminal Court Magistrate David Pool. The two other candidates, vying for the judgeship of Municipal Court, Division 1, were incumbent Teresa Jones and challenger LaTrena Davis-Ingram.

Though the two paired antagonists were in each case seated next to each other, moderator Sharalyn Payton chose to pose all her questions in an order that leapfrogged that neat division, a quirk that often led her to overlook Pool in the sequence until prompted and, more importantly, interposed the responses of one or both of the Division 1 candidates when the Division 2 race began to include charges and counter-charges between Chandler and Pool.

As if to balance this state of affairs, Davis-Ingram and Jones, it turned out, had their own grudges to exchange, and, in the last half of the hour-long judicial part of the forum, the sparks flew in all directions.

The friction started when Payton posed a question about possible “bias” or other matters that might mar the principle of “fair and impartial” in court proceedings. Chandler was the first respondent, and she began with an obvious effort to settle a score. In a previous statement, Pool had recounted the various endorsements his candidacy had received (inter alia, from members of the Bar Association, from the AFL-CIO, and from the Shelby County Sheriffs’ Association, and from the Memphis Police Association) and suggested they underscored the need for a change in Division 3.

Chandler began: “I’m going to point to the person running against me, who has implied that I have not been faIr and impartial.” She maintained that Pool had first wanted to run in Division 1 and had requested her support for such a race. She then said,“To imply that the clerks asked him to run because I don’t treat people fairly, the police support him because I don’t treat people fairly,” why would he ask such a person for support in another division? “I don’t mind Mr. Pool running against me. It’s a democracy. It’s open. But be honest. An impediment to justice is dishonesty.”

Chandler then directed several questions to Irons, who was now sitting in the audience and was, she said, the resident clerk in her courtroom. She asked him a series of leading questions designed to draw Yes answers from him regarding such matters as her punctuality, her compassion, and her fairness in the courtroom. Dutifully, Irons answered each question in the affirmative.

“I’m a person of integrity. I have not been compromised. I will not be compromised,” Chandler declared. She said she would not be included on any sample ballot prepared under private auspices (an apparent reference to one such ballot circulated by Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen, County Commissioner Van Turner, and former local Democratic chairman David Cocke), “I will not be demeaned or lied on.”

She then turned to another matter: “People have been saying I put LaTrena Davis in the race against Ms Jones. … Y’all report me good. I didn’t ask her to run against Ms Jones. She did it on her own. She has the right to run, just like he has the right to run,” indicating Pool. “But all these people who are supposed to be judges and honest and [to have] integrity walk around being dishonest. That’s why there’s no trust.”

She might have gone on longer, but League of Women Voters president Peg Watkins, who was acting as timekeeper, called time on her. There was a bit of a shocked pause in the room, as after an unexpected explosion.

Payton next called on, not Pool, but Davis-Ingram, who began to work her way through a more conventional kind of response, talking about factors in the lives of impoverished Memphians that might inhibit their trust in the judicial system.

She was followed by Judge Jones, who decided to pick up on one of Chandler’s themes. “There’s been a lot of talk about honesty, and that’s been one of the cornerstones of my entire life,” Jones said. “Is it honest when you say in an affidavit that you live in some place that you don’t live? You decide. You’re the voters.” This was a none-too-oblique reference to Davis-Ingram’s having maintained a residence in Collierville right up to her declaration for office in Memphis. Jones continued: “Is it honest to say that you’re on the side of the people in the community when, for 17 years you’ve voted in Collierville and lived in Collierville? You decide!...I stand before you with no public censures from the Board of Professional Responsibility, no violations for over 30 years...Can my opponent say the same? That’s honesty!”

Jones then re-surfaced the rumors, alluded to by Chandler, about the reasons for Davis-Ingram’s being in the race but dropped the matter without pronouncing on it one way or another. She sequed to a discussion of formal impediments to her office, including a lack of resources. “I am an honest person. I’ve lived in the inner city for the last 17 years. I’ve voted in city elections.”

With not one but two verbal wars underway now, Payton seemed about to ignore Pool, but audience reaction reminded her that he deserved a turn. And thus, several minutes after being directly attacked, he had a chance to defend himself. He denied ever saying that Chandler was unfair nor that he had ever sought her support. He then called it “unjust and unfair” to single out a clerk and put him on the spot, as Chandler had done with Irons. That, he said, was “an extreme conflict of interest.” He said he had always respected Judge Chandler and, win or lose, would continue to.

The fireworks apparently over, or at least suspended, Payton then solicited questions at large from the audience. Several came — about the nature of fines and fees, the consistency of them from division to division, and a judge’s limited discretion concerning how to implement them; about possible attempts to block organized court-watch activists from specific courtrooms; and about affording police officers proper regard in the courtroom.

The earlier flare-ups had not lasted long, but with a week and a half yet to go before voting is over, their consequences could be several.

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Downtown Town Hall Leads to Dialogue on City Issues

Council candidate Pearl Eva Walker stirs up a coherent critique

Posted By on Mon, Sep 9, 2019 at 1:47 PM

Candidate Walker (l) at her downtown town hall. - JB
  • JB
  • Candidate Walker (l) at her downtown town hall.

The town hall format, whereby a political figure presides over an open-ended group discussion of public problems and issues, has long been a staple of elected officials; it is also coming into increasing use by candidates for office, and, at best, can be a showcase of Socratic inquiry, as was the case last week in town hall on downtown issues, presided over by City Council candidate Pearl Eva Walker at Robinson Gallery.

Walker is one of several candidates seeking Position 1 of Super District 8. The others are Nicole Cleaborn, Gerre Currie, Derrick “Dee” Harris, and J.B. Smiley Jr., and while most public attention (such as exists) has focused on the candidacies of Currie, the current District 6 Council incumbent, and Smiley, Walker clearly has an open-minded approach to issues and a constituency responsive to it. Earlier this year, she won the endorsement of the 2019 People’s Convention.

After a brief self-introduction in which she expressed support for solar energy and re-designation of MATA bus routes, Walker led an energized group of attendees through two hours of highly charged discussion on specific downtown issues, in the process posing a challenge to the reigning assumptions of city government.

One pathway of discussion led into questioning the current mode of downtown development, whereby what one participant labeled “para-governmental” authorities had without much in the way of public sanction imposed a growth strategy on downtown that favored the “live, work, play” formula and entertainment projects over the needs of the area’s residents.

As that idea was explored by others, a consensus seemed to develop that fundamental problems were overlooked:

That, for example, there was a pell-mell rush to turn downtown into a high-density center for upscale residence and recreation without regard to the needs of existing residents or attending to what is already an outmoded and overworked sewer system in the area.

That the development of Downtown and of the city’s medical district has failed to provide the infrastructure, including schools and adequate local transportation, needed by working-class residents.

That PILOTS (“payment-in-lieu-of tax” inducements to new business and industry) had been failures as factors in economic rejuvenation, in that, among other things, the higher salaries brought to town by new industry go principally to imported executives who often find residences outside the city.

That projects like the planned redevelopment of Tom Lee Park are brought into being without adequate public vetting or proper consideration for their effect on existing institutions.

There was more such thinking out loud, adding up to a coherent critique of things as they are, and, right or wrong, all of it was the sort of stimulant that ideally should be part of the public dialogue. Last Thursday’s town hall downtown followed one in the North Hollywood area and precedes one to be held Tuesday evening at Abyssinia Baptist Church in Whitehaven.

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Strickland‘s Amen Corner

Posted By on Mon, Sep 9, 2019 at 8:39 AM

Strickland and his clerical support group. - JB
  • JB
  • Strickland and his clerical support group.

Some critics of Mayor Jim Strickland have expressed skepticism about his accomplishments and maintain that he is out of touch with large portions of the greater Memphis community — specifically, its African-American population. The Prayer Breakfast shared by Strickland and African-American pastors on Saturday at his Poplar Avenue headquarters in the old Spin Street building could be seen as a move toward discrediting such assertions.

At the end of the breakfast meeting, the 30-odd clergy members, representing several denominations and numerous well-known community churches, gathered around Strickland and offered serial testimonies to his virtues and reaffirmed their support.

Leading off was Bishop Henry Williamson of the CME church: “We know this man has shown his commitment for increased business opportunities, jobs and the African American community ... and of course, going forward into the future, the development of Memphis into a world-class city And so for that, we are proud to endorse him today and encourage all citizens vote for this progressive, productive man, Jim Strickland.

He was followed by Bishop Brandon Porter of COGIC, who would credit Strickland’s efforts for returning his church’s annual convention to Memphis and absolved the mayor of any blame for the resurgent crime problem.

Next came the Rev. Bill Adkins of the Greater Imani Cathedral of Faith, who noted that 28 years earlier he had been one of the main supporters of the candidate, Willie Herenton, who would become the city’s first elected black mayor. Calling Strickland “a mayor of all the people,” Adkins said, “He has responded well, expediently. He has answered many of the questions that we have, and he has pursued many of the causes that we have great interest in therefore we are totally supportive. And this turnaround from 28 years ago to this day, and we hope that all the other methods would see the great job that he has done as the mayor of this city. And we encourage all of us to support him for the good work that he has done.”

Asked by a reporter to specify something in particular that Strickland has done, Adkins answered instantly, “The statues,” and went on to credit Strickland for ridding the city of memorials to Nathan Bedford Forrest, “founder of the Klan,” and to the Confederacy at large. Adkins thanked Strickland “for listening to us, understanding our concerns, understanding our needs, and responding.”

(After the meeting, Adkins said, “Strickland has done everything we have asked him to do. I’ve supported two black mayors, but maybe we’ve got to the point that we don’t have to vote for mayor on the basis of race.”

Pastor after pastor added other items to the bouquet, mentioning summer work opportunities for youth, a growth in living-wage jobs, action on behalf of the city’s sanitation workers, the city’s provision of pre-K, projects for Whitehaven, etc. All matters that Strickland would gladly claim as talking points and was no doubt happy to hear said by someone else.

Among other things, the turnout on Saturday could indicate that polls showing Strickland holding his own with the black vote, as he did in 2015, might well be on target.

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Herenton Rouses Women Supporters with Promise of Victory

Posted By on Mon, Aug 26, 2019 at 10:33 AM

Willie Herenton won’t be, as Gail Floyd-Tyree called him on Saturday, “the first boss to go back in that chair.” Several others, including three-time Mayor Ed Crump (who once literally owned the name “Boss”) have managed to get back into the
Herenton at his Saturday rally - JB
  • JB
  • Herenton at his Saturday rally
office of mayor after serving in it previously.

But Herenton — who, as several speakers (including himself) noted at a jam-packed “Women for Herenton” rally, was there from 1991 through 2009 — agrees with Tyree, the executive director of Local 1377 of the AFSCME union, who gave him a rousing introduction. He, too, believes strongly that he can get back into City Hall in the role of mayor.

And there was much about Saturday’s rally, held in a cavernous warehouse-sized space on South Third Street, that could just about convince anybody.

First, there were the numbers, upwards of a thousand women, all patently excited and happy to be there. Then there was the enthusiasm, simmering to begin with, and periodically fired into high decibels in the course of the event. Finally, there were the obvious signs of organization and preparation — a forest of large-sized “HERENTON” signs handed out by helpers at appropriate moments, much in the manner of a national political convention.

And, perhaps most convincingly, there were the several voter-registration tables around the sides of the hall, staffed by teams of women supporters who, from time to time, appeared deluged by new applicants.

Women supporters came out en masse. - JB
  • JB
  • Women supporters came out en masse.
The event was so emotionally rousing as to remind onlookers of the first Herenton campaign in 1991, the one that, by a razor-thin margin of 142 votes over incumbent Dick Hackett, made Herenton the first elected black mayor in Memphis history. And it more or less overpowered the more recent memory of the half-hearted Herenton run for Congress against incumbent Steve Cohen in 2010, a Democratic primary race Herenton lost by a margin of 4 to 1.

Both Herenton’s campaign manager, Robert Spence, and AFSCME’s Floyd-Tyree, generated some abundant advance energy on behalf of Herenton. Said Spence: “I heard our opponent’s theme” (meaning current Mayor Jim Strickland, running for reelection).

“‘Good at the basics.’ What is that? When did somebody come to office saying the best they could do was mediocre? ... We can do better than that,” said Spence. “And the basics don’t even get good. Trash on the streets. Potholes. Crime. ... We know who ran the city in an exceptional and extraordinary way. ... The Lion is walking in the jungle, and they can't stop it.”

Spence was outdone and then some by Floyd-Tyree, whose union is one of several that have endorsed the former mayor. Saying that she was “confirmed in my soul that this is divine intervention,” Tyree concluded a passionate speech thusly: “You can’t be in the presence of Willie Herenton and not know he’s a boss. Walks like a boss, talks like a boss. He’s the boss!” And: “Where we taking our boss?” The answer came back: “City Hall!”

Expectations in the hall were so high that it would have been virtually impossible for Herenton himself not to deliver. And he did.

After some pro forma early praise for his volunteer workers and an expression of his belief in the power of the spiritual realm, Herenton said, “There’s power in the vote of women, too. We made history in 1991 when you elected Willie Herenton as the first African-American mayor. You didn’t stop there. You reelected me in 1994, you reelected me 1997, in 2000, in 2004, and 2007. And guess what, you’re going to elect me in 2019!”

Herenton was wrong. The actual reelection sequence was 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. But it hardly mattered. The women roared their agreement.

Herenton continued. “Someone asked me a question: Willie, can you do it? I took them to the book: Philippians 4:13.” There was a roar. “I see we’ve got some church folks in here,” said Herenton, who then quoted the scripture: “‘’You can do all things through Christ!’

“Sometimes the Lord makes the lowly overcome the highly,” Herenton said. He made note of opponent Strickland’s much-touted $1 million campaign budget. “They’ve got the money power. But we’ve got people power. That’s what’s going to take us over the top on October 3rd.

“This crime problem is deep. It bothers me, this present administration is weak on crime. A lot of people in our community, they have no hope. They’ve given up. They have no inspiration. We’ve got to embrace the values that our parents gave us.” With a nod to his sister in the audience, he said, “Our mother taught us: Work. Education. Church. Work hard and you can be successful. Somehow or another we’ve got to bring those values back. ... There's so much hatred, so much jealousy, so much envy among our people.

“I want you to know that this election is very critical to the future of our city. You’ve asked the question of why am I going back into public service. Because it's late in the evening for me. I want to tell you. I want you to hear me. It’s late in the evening, but the God I serve is still using me.”

The whoop from the crowd was so great as to befit one who had freshly emerged from Sinai with brand new tablets.

And indeed, Herenton had a revelation of sorts for the women. But first there was another Biblical reference, one that might not have gone down well amid a group of feminists but one that scored well with this audience.

“When I look in the Bible,” Herenton said, “I see that first God made man, and he made women, the helpmate. There were great women in the Bible. Esther, Ruth ... I could go on and on. ... Since the beginning of Biblical times, there have been women of value, women of courage, women who nurtured civilization. And today women are still relevant.

“I am appealing to you. You have been there for me in every election. Women have voted overwhelmingly for me. And I’m asking you to do it again.”

The women shouted their assent. Then Herenton favored them with the great revelation:

“Before I take my seat, let me tell you what we’re going to ask you to do. This is real strategic. Early voting starts September 13th. We have you guys in our database, and we’re going to reach out to you, because I don't mind telling you part of what our strategy is. We’re going to win this election in early voting. We going to have a caravan of buses. We’re going to have vans called the Herenton Express. We’ll do an early voting like they have never seen before.”

And there was a warning: “Let me tell you why we have to overwhelm in early voting. In Memphis, with technology, they can steal the election. We’re going to win so overwhelmingly that they can’t steal this election. We need to come out in record numbers.”

Apologizing “for my emotionalism,” Herenton said, “I don't know how to do a fake. I’ve just got to be real.” And, with another exhortation to “go back to our values,” he proclaimed, in the words of “that old church song we used to sing, ‘Victory is ours!’”

Altogether, a boffo performance. If Herenton can continue to generate energy on this scale, Strickland, opponent Tami Sawyer, and the rest of the 11-candidate field will have something to take very seriously.

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Monday, August 5, 2019

Corey Strong To Challenge Cohen in the 9th District

Posted By on Mon, Aug 5, 2019 at 7:42 AM

Corey Strong
  • Corey Strong
Yes, it’s true: Steve Cohen has an opponent. The 9th District Congressman, who has knocked off a serious string of Democratic challengers since 2006, when he first emerged victorious from a multi-candidate primary field, now faces a 2020 bid from Corey Strong, the former Shelby County Democratic chairman.

Strong acknowledges that Cohen has made the appropriate votes in Congress, supported legislation that a Democrat should have supported, properly backed up Democratic President Obama, and has correctly opposed Republican President Trump. Further, says Strong, the Congressman has successfully become a factor in key national dialogues.

What he has failed to do, Strong maintains, is to bring jobs to a home region that desperately needs them. Strong even finds evidence of this alleged failure in a well-publicized stunt staged by Cohen last spring on the House Judiciary Committee. That was the occasion in May when the Congressman ridiculed the failure of Attorney General William Barr to answer a subpoena by wolfing down pieces from a Kentucky Fried Chicken basket at his seat on the committee.

Cohen got headlines, both pro and con, and, says Strong, “I have no problem with that. What I have a problem with is that we’ve got all kinds of local fried-chicken enterprises here in Memphis, and he could have made his point with them if he wanted. But he didn’t.”

Strong is well aware that Cohen, who is white and Jewish, has easily dispatched all previous would-be party rivals in his predominantly African-American Memphis district since that first victory in 2006. He has triumphed over Justin Ford, Willie Herenton, Tomeka Hart, Ricky Wilkins, and Nikki Tinker, all of whom had either name recognition or financial support or both.

He has done so, as Strong acknowledges, by careful attention to the needs of his constituency in most ways — save the aforementioned inability to raise the income level of his district.

Strong believes he can succeed at that task, where, he says, Cohen has not. And one way of demonstrating his prowess will be to raise a campaign budget that will allow him to compete with the financially well-endowed incumbent Congressman on relatively even terms..

“I will do that,” says Strong, a Naval Reserve officer who in 2017 became the renovated Shelby County Democratic Party’s bounce-back chairman after it was decommissioned by the state Democrats a year earlier during a period of internal stress and discord within the local party.

Strong acknowledges that Michael Harris, his successor as local party chairman, has had a difficult problem arousing support from party cadres because of issues stemming from his suspended law practice. But, says Strong, local Democrats have a duty to support their party.

The future congressional aspirations of current Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris have become so obvious as to make Harris’ ambitions something of a public proverb, and a good race next year by Strong, even if unsuccessful, could serve the purpose of setting up a future challenge against Mayor Harris. But Strong insists he is in the 9th District race this year to win.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Strickland Opens Up

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2019 at 6:13 PM

Mayor Srickland in the center of supporters (top) and being buttonholed by them (bottom) - JB
  • JB
  • Mayor Srickland in the center of supporters (top) and being buttonholed by them (bottom)

On Tuesday afternoon, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, freshly introduced by School Board member Michelle McKissick (who in turn had been introduced by County Commission chair Van Turner) took a look around the crowd that surrounded him on the vacant floor of the former Spin City on Poplar Avenue and professed himself “humbled to see so many people from all walks of life.”

That was how Strickland formally opened his 2019 reelection campaign, clearly trying to present himself as a man for all seasons and factions.

The Mayor promised the crowd “a few words,” which turned out to be a semi-lengthy recounting of what he considers his accomplishments over the 3 ½-year period of his tenure so far.

These included an accelerated hiring of police officers, a doubling of the city’s paving budget, and the use of “data” to “drive government decisions.” He would quickly amend that formulation to “data and good people,” working in a brag on city employees.

Apropos that matter of data, Strickland served up more stats, claiming : a quickening of the city’s 911 response to an average of 7 seconds per call; an enhanced survival rate at the city’s animal shelter; an increased MWBE percentage (rate of contracting with firms owned by women and minorities); a 90 percent increase of summer jobs for youth; 22,000 new jobs in 3 ½ years; etc., etc. “All of that without a tax increase,” Strickland proclaimed promising more via his administration’s Memphis 3.0 growth plan. “Memphis does have momentum,” he said.

The Mayor cited some encouraging appraisals from the Bloomberg organization of Manhattan and got a rise out of his crowd of supporters when, in boasting the rate of job growth in Memphis, he said it surpassed that in such other major cities as Houston, Dallas, and “a small town east of here called Nashville.”

There was more such upbeat boasting, some of it borrowed from other governmental jurisdictions, as when Strickland cited state government’s provision of free education at community colleges and tech schools.

All in all, the Mayor’s presentation was rhetorically lean and in line with his oft-stated concept of his job as essentially that of handling the “basics.”

He is making a point of running on his record, and it will be up to his several opponents to question his data and his conclusions and to offer arguments of their own as alternatives. At least two of them — County Commissioner Tami Sawyer and former Mayor Willie Herenton — seem prepared to make such an effort, but they are both well behind with respect to one important piece of data not mentioned by Strickland on Tuesday.

That would be in the matter of campaign budgets, where the incumbent Mayor has an amount on hand close to one million dollars. That is one “basic” that will be hard to counter.

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Council Candidate Burch Accuses Opponent Fletcher of Violating State Law

Alleges conflicts pertaining to TIF in University of Memphis area.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 26, 2019 at 3:45 PM

Burch (l), Fletcher
  • Burch (l), Fletcher

Charley Burch, a candidate for the City Council in Super-District 9, Position 3, is taking aim at one of his opponents, Cody Fletcher, charging the Fletcher campaign with violating state law.

Burch cites Tennessee Code Annotated § 8-30-306, also known as the Little Hatch Act, which contains this provision: “No person holding a position in the preferred service shall solicit, directly or indirectly, or require any other person to solicit, directly or indirectly, donations or contributions for any political party, candidate, cause or purpose in order to acquire or deny a position in state service or to materially affect the retention, promotion or demotion of any employee in state service.”

He also cites TN Code § 2-19-203, which says: "It is unlawful for any public officer or employee knowingly to solicit directly or indirectly any contribution of money, thing of value, facilities or services of any person who has received contracts, compensation, employment, loans, grants or benefits, or any person whose organization, agency or firm has received such benefits financed by public funds, state, federal or local, for political purposes or campaign expense."

Several candidates are contending for the District 9, Position 3 seat. Besides Burch and Fletcher, two others are Dr. Jeff Warren and Tyrone Romeo Franklin. Fletcher had originally proposed to run for the Position 1 position in Super-District 9 but was persuaded by consultant Brian Stephens to switch his venue.

Burch, a security officer at Memphis International Airport, said he intends to file a formal complaint with state authorities. He contends that Fletcher, a development officer of the University of Memphis, a state-supported institution, has run afoul of the provision by “directly or indirectly” soliciting campaign contributions from contractors of other persons with an interest in various building projects.

Burch specifically includes the University Neighborhood Development Corporation, a comprehensive redevelopment project focused on Highland Street and financed under the auspices of a TIF (tax increment financing) grant.

Fletcher is executive director of the UNDC, and, as such, says Burch, is empowered to distribute some $21 million “in city and county tax dollars over the next 15 years up and down the TIF area,” which runs from Poplar Avenue to Park Ave.

“Cody may not be fully aware personally of the problem,” said Burch. “But his campaign people should be.”

Burch pointed out that a well-attended fundraiser for the Fletcher campaign was held in March at the home of Ted Townsend, head of economic development and government relations for the University of Memphis.

“That compounds the issue,” said Burch, who pointed out that invitations to the March fundraiser “almost certainly” went out to “architects, engineers, and builders with existing or potential future contracts with the University.”

Asked if such individuals, many of whom subsequently contributed to the Fletcher campaign, didn’t have the right to contribute to political campaigns like any other citizens, Burch said, “Of course, and they’re perfectly fine people. The point is that they were solicited, and that’s a questionable gray area under the Little Hatch Act.”

Citing public information, Burch said major contributors to Fletcher with some degree of involvement with the UNDC TIF area included Bob Loeb of Loeb Properties, New York developer Zachary Channing, and representatives of the Bass, Berry and Sims law firm, the Makosky, Ringel, and Greenberg property management firm, and Looney, Kiss, and Ricks architects.

Burch also raised the issue of possible conflicts of interest involving Fletcher as a Councilman, given that the Council has ex officio representation on the EDGE board and certain powers of approval over that board, which initiates and oversees TIFs and other development projects.

Apprised of Burch’s charges, Fletcher responded, “‘My top priority is fighting crime. If my opponents are talking about me, I must be doing something right.”

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Memphis City Election: The Contenders Are On the Line

Posted By on Sat, Jul 20, 2019 at 6:22 PM

City Council Position 3 candidate Jeff Warren (far left) with supporters at a Thursday afternoon fund-raiser. From left: Kathy Fish, co-host of the affair; Congressman Steve Cohen; former County Commissioner Steve Mulroy, and County Commission Chairman Van Turner. - Cohen got off a shot at political consultant Brian Stephens, who, said Cohen, was interested in making money, not the welfare of the city, and had talked one of Warren's opponents into moving from the Position 1 race, where Stephens already had a client, in order to maximize his potential profit. - JB
  • JB
  • City Council Position 3 candidate Jeff Warren (far left) with supporters at a Thursday afternoon fund-raiser. From left: Kathy Fish, co-host of the affair; Congressman Steve Cohen; former County Commissioner Steve Mulroy, and County Commission Chairman Van Turner. Cohen got off a shot at political consultant Brian Stephens, who, said Cohen, was interested in making money, not the welfare of the city, and had talked one of Warren's opponents into moving from the Position 1 race, where Stephens already had a client, in order to maximize his potential profit.

It's not quite a done deal. There’s still a withdrawal deadline of Thursday, July 25th, to be reckoned with — and rumors abound of dramatic changes of mind between now and then. But the filing deadline for places on the October 3rd Memphis city election ballot has come and gone, and (pending those potential changes) we know what the lineups are for the various races.

After this week’s filing deadline, at noon on Thursday, July 18th, here’s what the races looked like. (County election coordinator Linda Phillips stressed that these results were “preliminary.”)

This one is pure carnival. To understate the case somewhat, incumbent Jim Strickland, with a $1 million budget for the race, is in good shape. Three challengers have at least the trappings of a campaign: former Mayor Willie Herenton, activist and Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer, and Lemichael Wilson. For the record, the other candidates are Terrence Boyce, Leo Awgowhat, Pamela Moses, Michael Everett Banks, DeAngelo Pegues, David Walker, Steven Bradley, Robert “Prince Mongo” Hodges, and Sharon A. Webb.

District 1: Rhonda Logan and Sherman Greer. This is a straight-out, one-on-one between Logan, whose candidacy for an appointment to the council was pushed vigorously but unsuccessfully last year by various north-side political figures, notably state Representative Antonio Parkinson, and the eventually named incumbent, Greer, a former long-time aide to former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Greer has widespread support from other members of the political establishment.

District 2: Incumbent Frank Colvett is on the ballot. Two would-be challengers, John Emery and Marvin Louis White, were having their supporting signatures checked. Should they qualify, that is likely the closest they’ll come to having a success.

District 3: Incumbent Patrice Robinson will be heavily favored against Tanya Cooper.

District 4: Incumbent Jamita Swearengen, another in-office favorite, has one definite challenger, Britney Thornton, and two other potential challengers, Rodney A. Muhammad, and Russell R. Jones, whose qualifying signatures are undergoing verification.

District 5: Incumbent Worth Morgan is being challenged by John Marek. Morgan would seem to be sitting pretty, but there are those who credit Marek with a chance to make some mischief.

District 6: Former incumbent Edmund Ford Sr., regarded as a prohibitive favorite, has four definite challengers — Davin Clemons, Theryn Bond, Jaques Hamilton, and Perry Bond — and one potential challenger, Paul S. Brown, whose signatures are being checked. Two Bonds: That makes things interesting.

District 7: Incumbent Berlin Boyd, who routinely attracts controversy, has attracted a passel of opponents as well: Catrina Smith, Jerred Price, Larry Springfield, Michalyn C.S. Easter-Thomas, Thurston Smith, Jimmy Hassan, and Will “The Underdog” Richardson. Toni Green-Cole could join this entourage if her signatures, undergoing evaluation, hold up.

Super-District 8, Position 1: Vying for this position are: Gerre Currie, who is vacating her appointive District 6 seat to do so: J.B. Smiley, Jr; Pearl Eva Walker; Nicole Cleaborn, M. Latroy Alexandria-Williams; and Derrick Dee Harris.

Super-District 8, Position 2: Incumbent Cheyenne Johnson, who always won her races for Shelby County assessor, even during Republican sweep years, will be opposed by Craig Littles, Frank W. Johnson, Brian L. Saulsberry, and Marinda Alexandria-Williams.

Super-District 8, Position 3: Incumbent Martavius Jones has two known opponents — Roderic Ford and Cat Allen — and two potential challengers whose signatures are being checked — Pamela Lee and Lynette P. Williams. In any case, Jones is heavily favored.

Super-District 9, Position 1: Qualified candidates are: Erika Sugarmon and Chase Carlisle. It’s going to be a contested one-on-one between a well-regarded woman with political lineage and the scion of a development dynasty.

Super-District 9, Position 2: Incumbent Ford Canale has one definite challenger, Deanielle Jones. But Mauricio Calvo is in the race too, if his supporting signatures check out, and he could prove to be a sleeper.

Super-District 9, Position 3: Jeff Warren was an early candidate and has raised more cash than any other council candidate. He has three challengers — Tyrone Romeo Franklin, Charley Burch, and Cody Fletcher, the latter a transplant from his original ballot choice, Position 1. He might have been better off before the switch.

There are several well-known names in the clerk's race, it would seem, with former Councilman Myron Lowery and Democratic activist Lea Ester Redmond definitely in, and Joe Brown, another former councilman, and county Commissioner Justin Ford in the process of being approved for the race. Others are George D. Summers, Carl Irons, David Vinciarelli, Dorothy Jean Bolden, Dee Givens, and William Stovall, with Delicia DeGraffried undergoing final certification.

There are three positions on the ballot and at least one definite race.
In Division 3, incumbent Judge Jayne Chandler is being challenged by current Judicial Commissioner David Pool.

In Division 1, the recently appointed Teresa Jones, a former school board member, may have a challenger in Latrena D. Ingram, who is still undergoing certification.

Division 2 incumbent Judge Tarik Sugarmon will be unopposed.

Council candidate Mauricio Calvo, running in the race for Super-District 9, Position 2, was flanked by family members at a Thursday afternoon rally in Midtown, as he delineated the neighborhoods in his district via a chart held by a supporter. - JB
  • JB
  • Council candidate Mauricio Calvo, running in the race for Super-District 9, Position 2, was flanked by family members at a Thursday afternoon rally in Midtown, as he delineated the neighborhoods in his district via a chart held by a supporter.

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    • Anatomy of a "News Tip"

      Documenting the assistance given our brothers and sisters of a different media outlet on the subject of "bogus ballots" at election time. (you remember, that election of several weeks back?) You're welcome.
    • Judge Declares Halt to Distribution of For-Profit Sample Ballots in City Election

      Temporary restraining order is in response to petition by Council candidate John Marek against ballots, mailed and handed out to voters, that bear "endorsements" sold to various candidates, including Marek's election opponent. Further hearing on the practice is set for November.

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