Letter from the Editor 

Let me just get right to the burning question of the day: Who are you going to vote for in the May 4th primary contest for Shelby County register of deeds? I know. It's a tough one. There's ol' what's his name, the incumbent. But you can't overlook who's his face, the up-and-coming challenger. I foresee many sleepless nights ahead as I cogitate on this race.

Or not. Like most Shelby Countians, I don't have a dog in that hunt. Hell, off the top of my head, I don't even know the names of the dogs in that hunt. And if the prognosticators are correct, only 10 percent of Shelby Countians will bother to learn their names and vote in the primaries.

If Jay Leno can make a living baffling people on the street by asking them to name the vice president, I think it's safe to say the vast majority of us would fail a quiz asking us to identify, say, the current Probate Court clerk. Most of us would be more likely to be able to name an American Idol judge. I can name three: Randy "Pitchy Dawg" Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres, and Simon Cowell. Then there's that other chick.

click to enlarge Kara Dioguardi
  • Kara Dioguardi

But even though the lower-level officeholders may be on a par with the "other chick," their jobs are important. They are paid significant taxpayer-funded salaries. We want court paperwork filed properly. We want our deed registered accurately. We don't need a flashy politician to run, say, the Shelby County trustee's office. We just need an honest, reasonably intelligent human being.

The stakes are a little higher for the two "glamour" races at the top of the ballot — county mayor and county sheriff. With some form of consolidation proposal slated for this fall's ballot, it behooves us to pay attention to where the mayoral candidates stand on that issue and many others. Character and leadership qualities are also important.

Nor is managing the second-largest police force in the county a job for an amateur or someone with character issues. Shelby County suffered through two decades of cronyism, nepotism, and other malfeasances with former sheriffs A.C. Gilless and Jack Owens. With crime paramount in many voters' minds, the office of county sheriff requires a thoughtful vote.

I would venture to say that most of us have some homework to catch up on in order to learn all we can about the candidates before May 4th rolls around. A good place to start is with Jackson Baker's cover story on page 18.

See you at the polls.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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