Scramble is On for Lillard's Commission Seat 

The selection last week of Shelby County Commissioner David Lillard to be state Treasurer at $180,000 a year means that, for the umpteenth time in a fairly short span of years the commission will be needing to find a successor for one of its departed members.

Although Lillard has indicated he will postpone his leaving to "wrap up" some pending matters at the next regular meeting of the commission on January 26, his colleagues will need to determine a successor sometime in February after a formal announcement of vacancy.

Already the aspirants are lining up. Though outgoing Shelby County Republican chairman Bill Giannini has been mentioned as a candidate for an interim appointment, businessman Giannini says he may seek the seat on a permanent basis at the next regular countywide election in 2010 and prefers not to accept an interim appointment on a premise of his non-candidacy next year.

"And I believe they [the commissioners] will state an intent that the interim appointee agree to serve only until the next election," said Giannini, who said he thought a strong contender for the interim post would be former commissioner Tommy Hart of Collierville.

Other names receiving considerable mention or known to by lobbying for the interim position are automobile dealer Chris Price of Millington, FedEx administrator Richard Smith, and Millington grocer Terry Roland.

An interesting wrinkle in the commission's choice, when it comes, will be whether the body's Democrats comply with precedent in agreeing to appoint a Republican to succeed Lillard, himself a Republican, or choose to deviate from what has traditionally been a "gentlemen's agreement" of sorts. Chairman Deidre Malone, a Democrat, has hinted that the commission - now dominated by Democrats 7-6 -- might dispense with the tradition.

Of the known hopefuls so far, all are Republicans with the exception of Price, whose political orientation is uncertain.

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