As noted before in this space, when the political space in Memphis and Shelby County heats up, schedules overlap and events clash with each other.
Such was the case Thursday afternoon and evening when (a) the Shelby County Election Commission met to validate the 2015 city election roster and hear appeals; (b) mayoral candidate Jim Strickland had a headquarters opening at Poplar Plaza; and (c) the Sierra Club held an open house for political candidates and voters, presumably to expedite discussion of environmental topics.
Inevitably, the Strickland event got most media coverage
because, by its very nature, it was an important gauge of a major candidate’s strength in this year’s major political race.
But neither of the other events was without interest or relevance.
AT THE ELECTON COMMISION MEETING
, held at the Commission’s east campus at Shelby Farms, roster certification was but one of the matters discussed.
Tom Needham, Shelby County engineer, made what was, to judge by commissioners’ responses, a surprise announcement to the effect that additional space in the warehouse building used for Election Commission activities would be required to accommodate the expanding archives of County Register Tom Leatherwood.
In the process, said Needham, his department would be sure to “improve” the Election Commission’s layout. That drew retorts — mainly from Commissioners Dee Nollner and Norma Lester — that the Commission was doing just fine with it space the way things were, thank you, as well as their expressions of concern that what Needham was proposing had not been discussed with them previously and had the potential to disrupt the Commission’s work, particularly at election time.
Eventually, everybody seemed to agree that there would be ample consultation before any plans were activated.
The Commission also heard and dismissed appeals from two candidates excluded from the ballot — James Clingan, whose petition to run for Mayor was presented to the Commission a day late, on July 17; and Joe Cooper whose full-citizenship rights had not been restored in time for him to collect and file the requisite number of signatures on a valid petition.
Clingan produced evidence of a typo in a Commission broadside he received, which gave a wrong filing date, but Election Coordinator Rich Holden noted that attempts had been made, by email and regular mail delivery, to inform Clingan of the right date and that the email, at least, had been acknowledged by someone — by his son, the frustrated candidate conjectured.
Cooper made a plausible case that he had been given a run-around by the District Attorney General’s office in his effort to set up a hearing to have his rights restored, but, as Commission attorney John Ryder advised, the Commission had no power to amend state law in the candidate’s favor.
The Commission also received materials from two petitioners regarding a possible future referendum on amending charter requirements for five county offices.
THE SIERRA CLUB'S OPEN HOUSE,
, at the Hooks Central Library, was well-attended and was deemed a success by Club official Dennis Lynch, who noted that, in the course of the evening, a large number of candidates for the various offices on the 2015 city ballot came and interacted with interested voters.
Materials, both on the candidates’ behalf and on environmental themes, were freely exchanged.
The Sierra Club event had originally been scheduled as a candidate forum but was reorganized in the open house format because of the large number of candidates involved. Lynch noted afterward, however, that the Club had plans for a forthcoming debate/forum event in which mayoral candidates will be directly asked about environmental matters.
will post information fore and aft on that one.