City Court Clerk: Let's face it, the clerk jobs in a local election are political in a distinctly different sense from other elective positions. Aside from promising efficiency and/or modernization, there isn't much that a given candidate can boast to distinguish him/her from other hopefuls.
These jobs aren't necessarily sinecures, but the clerkships have been treated that way by more than a few incumbents. The trick, if elected, is to hire a competent executive assistant to supervise the work and meanwhile figure out the best ways to spend the nice six-figure annual salary. Maybe do some politicking in your spare time or play some golf. There's room in a closet for your clubs.
That might be a mite cynical. There's some important oversight to be managed from the Memphis City Court Clerk's office, whose official mission is "to collect city revenues generated by the Memphis Police Department through the issuance of traffic citations, traffic summons, and ordinance summons." And incumbents have been creative in the past about devising formulas allowing hard-pressed citizens to keep driving while paying the fines levied in traffic court. Good for the motorist, good for the city exchequer.
Here are the applicants, in alphabetical order: Joe Brown, Delicia DeGraffreed, De Givens, Carl A. Irons II, Myron Lowery, Lea Ester Redmond, William Stovall, George "Dempsy" Summers, and David W. Vinciarelli. Some of these are no-names, others are perennial candidates, and a few others are well-respected political veterans. Name recognition will loom large in voters' minds; so Lowery and Brown, both former Memphis City Council members, have a distinct advantage.
Lowery also tops a local Bar Association poll of contenders, with 17.88 percent finding him most qualified, followed by DeGraffreed, the current chief deputy, with 8.6 percent.
Municipal Judgeships: The tribunals that supply customers for the Shelby County Clerk's office are on this year's ballot as well. It is the duty of municipal judges to consider the alleged infractions of citizens charged with the violations alluded to above and to determine the correct penalties or remedies for them.
It is a job that requires a capacity for — well, judgment, tact, firmness, and an ability to handle a workload.
Division 1 sees a newly appointed Judge, the former Shelby County Schools board member Teresa Jones, facing a challenge from lawyer LaTrena Davis Ingram. Jones was deemed most qualified by 56 percent of the lawyers polled, while Davis Ingram was the choice of 6 percent.
In Division 2, concerning which the Bar Association was not polled, Judge Tarik Sugarmon faces no opposition.
Division 3 sees incumbent Jayne Chandler challenged by Judicial Commissioner David Pool, who finished ahead in the lawyers' poll with 54 percent considering him most qualified, followed by 38 percent for Chandler.
• Several ballots sponsored by well-known public figures are being distributed in these last pre-election weeks:
Ninth District Congressman Steve Cohen, County Commissioner Van Turner, and former Democratic Chairman David Cocke have collaborated on "The Most Qualified Democrats for Change" Voters' Guide. Among contested races, they favor Jim Strickland for mayor; Sherman Greer in Council District 1; Patrice Robinson in District 3; Jamita Swearengen in District 4; John Marek in District 5; Gerre Currie in Super District 8, Position 1; Cheyenne Johnson in Super District 8, Position 2; Erika Sugarmon in Super District 9, Position 1; Jeff Warren in Super District 9, Position 3; Myron Lowery for City Court Clerk; Teresa Jones for Municipal Judge, Division 1; Tarik Sugarmon for Judge in Division 2; and David Pool in Division 3.
Former County Commissioner and interim County Mayor Joe Ford's ballot proposes Strickland for mayor; Greer in Council District 1; Frank Colvett in Council District 2; Robinson in District 3; Swearengen in District 4; Edmund Ford Sr. in District 6; Berlin Boyd in District 7; Chase Carlisle in Super District 9, Position 1; Ford Canale in Super District 9, Position 2; Warren in Super District 9 Position 3; Jones for Municipal Judge Division 1; Sugarmon for Judge, Division 2. Ford also opposes the local option sales tax increase.