Council Races Kick Off; Ralph White RIP 

Here's how things are shaping up after candidates started pulling petitions last week for Memphis City Council races:

DISTRICT 1: The much-mentioned "people's choice" aspirant (as she was dubbed by her thwarted supporters for a District 1 vacancy last year) is Rhonda Logan, the activist who now has a chance to prove the validity of that appellation; she faces a serious obstacle, though, in Sherman Greer, an experienced governmental hand who served as an aide for 9th District Congressmen Harold Ford Jr. and Steve Cohen, and who ultimately got the appointment nod from the council.

A third candidate in District 1, not so well known, is Tierra Holloway, whose family name, coincidentally, is the same as that of Logan's birth family.

DISTRICT 2: So far, incumbent Frank Colvett seems to have this district all to himself.

DISTRICT 3: Incumbent Patrice Robinson has at this point drawn a single challenger, Joe P. Washington.

DISTRICT 4: Jamita Swearengen, the incumbent, and the daughter of an influential and well-remembered African-American jurist, is in good shape against potential challengers Nikkous Crump, Rodney A. Muhammad, and Britney Thornton, the latter of whom has some experience in city affairs and a modicum of support.

DISTRICT 5: Incumbent Worth Morgan, well-financed and regarded as able, should have an easy time of it against his only possible opponent so far, George D. Summers.

DISTRICT 6: This has been a seat held by members of the extended Ford family from time immemorial, and it is highly likely that Edmund Ford Sr., who formerly held the seat and seeks a return to it, will triumph over a bevy of would-be challengers: Davin D. Clemons, Justin J. Ford (who has pulled petitions in several races and is unlikely to persevere against his uncle), Larry Hunter, Theryn C. Bond (well known as a protestor in several City Hall issues), Jaques Hamilton, and Paul S. Brown.

DISTRICT 7: No council incumbent has aroused the public animosity that the headstrong and oft heavy-handed Berlin F. Boyd has, but few have buffered themselves with as much influential business support, either. That makes things tough for his challengers, who range from his best-known potential foe, Thurston Smith, to such others as Catrina L. Smith, Jerred Price, Larry Springfield, and Michalyn C.S Easter-Thomas.

SUPER DISTRICT 8, POSITION 1:    Though, as of last week, she had not yet picked up a petition, District 6 incumbent Gerre Currie is expected to run for this seat, and to do so as a favorite. Those who had picked up early petitions for the seat include J.B. Smiley Jr., an on-the-move activist with decent support; Hanalei Harris; and three pullers of multiple petitions, the aforementioned Justin J. Ford, as well as Pearl Eva Walker and Roderic Ford (who, his surname notwithstanding, is not a member of the extended political clan).

SUPER DISTRICT 8, POSITION 2:   Pulling petitions so far have been Craig Littles, Frank W. Johnson, and the aforementioned Justin J. Ford, Pearl Eva Walker, and Roderic Ford. The incumbent is Cheyenne Johnson, who is expected to prevail.

SUPER DISTRICT 8, POSITION 3: Incumbent Martavius Jones has this one all the way against the ubiquitous Roderic Ford.

SUPER DISTRICT 9, POSITION 1: This race is shaping up as a three-way, pitting Erika Sugarmon, a runner-up in last year's special election for District 9, Position 2, against two well-backed candidates, University of Memphis development specialist Cody Fletcher and developer Chase Carlisle, neither of whom had picked up their petitions as of last week. Sugarmon is the daughter of the late revered African-American legal icon Russell Sugarmon. Other petition pullers are Mauricio Calvo, a multiple puller who will have significant Latino support for whichever race he sticks with, and Jerome Williams Sr.

SUPER DISTRICT 9, POSITION 2: Calvo has pulled here as well, as has Samuel Goff, a candidate last year for a Shelby County Commission post. Both are probably wasting their time against incumbent Ford Canale, who as of last week had not yet pulled.

SUPER DISTRICT 9, POSITION 3: Calvo again, along with one Tyrone Romeo Franklin, but Jeff Warren, a former Memphis School Board member who has already raised $100,000 and has across-the-board support, is the clear favorite.

NEXT WEEK: An early look at the races for Mayor, City Court Clerk, and three municipal judgeships.

click to enlarge Rev. Ralph White - COURTESY BLOOMFIELD FULL GOSPEL BAPTIST CHURCH
  • Courtesy Bloomfield Full Gospel Baptist Church
  • Rev. Ralph White

Rev. Ralph White We learned over the weekend that Rev. Ralph White died while conducting a funeral Saturday afternoon. It is surely no disservice to observe that  Pastor White — Ralph, as he was known to so many of his friends across all sorts of civic and social and racial and political lines — died in the saddle, as it were, officiating in an ultimate godly act at the church, Bloomfield Full Gospel Baptist Church, that he had made a haven for righteousness, in more ways than one.

Ralph White was a marvelous preacher and, in his prime, a superlative athlete and singer. He was a gracious, compassionate, thoughtful man who fully deserved to win any or all of the electoral positions he ran for. Ironically, it was his large-minded determination to serve the total community rather than to kowtow to this or that influential faction that may have prevented his winning a public office.

It is a shame he did not get to serve in that way, but he managed to act on behalf of  the community — and, again, that's all of us — in many other ways, through church enterprises and civic groups. A recent act of service was his tenure as chair and then, as illness hobbled him, vice chair of the city's Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) — perfect casting for this preeminently fair-minded man. We'll all miss him.

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