In addition to the races chronicled in-depth in Flyer cover stories last week and this week, there are several important "down-ballot" races requiring a decision by the voters. Sketched out here, some or all of these may be revisited in online accounts at memphisflyer.com before Election Day, August 5th.
Judicial Races: Voters who feel confounded when trying to decide whom to vote for in five judicial races should know they have lots of company.
CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 4: The incumbent is Lorrie K. Ridder, who was appointed in April 2009 by Governor Phil Bredesen to replace the late Rita Stotts. Ridder has campaigned hard to retain the position. Gina Higgins, almost as omnipresent as Ridder at campaign events, and Michael Floyd also seek the position.
CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 8: The incumbent here is Rhynette Northcross Hurd, appointed by Bredesen in March. Hurd, a former law professor like Ridder, has personal and family connections to civil rights pioneers and to the Memphis musical universe. Joedae Jenkins, Venita Martin, and Robert "Bob" Weiss are all respected lawyers who have campaigned seriously.
CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 3: The six lawyers running to succeed the retiring John Colton Jr. all have pockets of support. They are: Latonya Sue Burrow, Bobby Carter, Claiborne H. Ferguson, Larry H. Nance, Gerald Skahan, and Glenn Wright.
GENERAL SESSIONS CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 7: This one is basically a raffle. First of all, the names of the 20 competing lawyers, at least half of whom have credible support: Bill Anderson Jr., Taurus Bailey, Mischelle Alexander Best, William D. "Billy" Bond, Damita Dandridge, Bryan A. Davis, Erica Gatewood, Rhonda Wilson Harris, Dennis R. Johnson, Cathy Hailey Kent, Herb Lane, Rick McKenna, Sherrie Miller Johnson, Derek Renfroe, Janet Lansky Shipman, Terrance Tatum, Tim J. Thompson, Randall B. Tolley, Karen Tyler, and Carolyn S. Watkins.
Among those regarded as serious contenders are Bailey, a member of a well-known political clan; Best, a former judge; Anderson and Bond, both of whom seem to have support in the suburbs; Lane and Renfroe, who have name identification from previous political activity; Tolley, who is backed by a phalanx of progressives; and Shipman, a highly regarded lawyer who has served as Shelby County human resources director.
GENERAL SESSIONS CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 10: Incumbent Lee Wilson won appointment by the Shelby County Commission last year to replace the late Tony Thompson in this division, which concerns itself with domestic violence cases.
Like fellow appointee Ridder, whom he often accompanied to campaign events, Wilson has worked hard at making the case for his reelection. His opponent is the well-liked former General Sessions Court clerk, Chris Turner.
Contested Legislative Primary Races:
STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 84 — Joe Towns Jr., the longtime incumbent, has a spirited primary challenge from Mitzi Turnage, who's in real estate. Towns may be in more trouble with the state Election Registry for his perennially late disclosure filings.
STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 86 — Two Republicans, Harold Baker and George T. Edwards (the latter a repeat), are vying for the right to take on incumbent Democrat Barbara Cooper in the fall.
STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 87 — Incumbent Democrat Karen Camper has opposition from Justin H. Settles. She'll take it seriously.
STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 99 — Incumbent Ron Lollar, a known quantity, is opposed by Tom Stephens, an unknown quantity, with a perhaps predictable result.
Contested Shelby County
School Board Races:
DISTRICT 1: Snowden "Butch" Carruthers vies with Charlene White.
DISTRICT 3: Lara A. McIntyre confronts David Reaves in a seat vacated by longtime incumbent Ann Edmiston.
DISTRICT 5: This is the hot one. Perennial board president David Pickler is under serious challenge from Ken Hoover, who charges that Pickler has been in power too long and often acts unilaterally. The incumbent disagrees, saying board member Dianne George is boosting Hoover as payback for policy disagreements.