If this is the year that the mayor for life, Willie Herenton, finally retires, it may also be the year that the school board president for life, David Pickler, leaves office, too.
Always assuming that Herenton’s departure from City Hall takes place as scheduled on Thursday, we do know that the outgoing Memphis mayor intends to change his venue to Washington, D.C., inasmuch as he’s thrown down a challenge to incumbent 9th District congressman Steve Cohen.
Should Pickler (whose day job is that of investment counselor) decide against another term as president of the Shelby County School Board, he, too, may try to move on — in his case to Nashville as successor to Paul Stanley, the currently beleaguered state senator from District 31 (Germantown, Cordova).
Pickler has thought out loud before about running for the legislature — for this seat, in fact — but thought better of it. Now that Stanley is all too clearly a lame duck because of a lingering — nay, mushrooming — sex scandal involving his former legislative intern, various other Republicans from the eastern suburbs of Shelby County are coveting his seat.
Among those known or presumed to be interested in running are state Representatives Steve McManus and Brian Kelsey. McManus, who represents Stanley’s former state House District 96, is actively campaigning, while Kelsey, the high-profile state representative from District 83, is considered a likely candidate.
“Serving in the legislature is something I’ve always wanted to do, and this time I’m giving it very serious consideration,” said Pickler, whose opposition to school consolidation and his energetic pursuit of special school-district status for the Shelby County schools have marked his long tenure at the helm of the county board.
Pickler said he assumes that, while Stanley is clearly regarded just now as persona non grata by the state Republican establishment and rank and file alike, the incumbent will not be pushed into retirement before his term expires. “Republicans are afraid that the county commission’s Democratic majority would try to appoint an interim senator who’s one of their own,” he said.
UPDATE: Shelby Republican chairman Lang Wiseman has called on Stanley to resign immediately.