Matilla, Chumney Eye Trustee's Job 

Two names have so far surged to the fore as Shelby County commissioners prepare to name an interim successor to the late Bob Patterson as county trustee.

Paul Matilla, a ranking aide to Patterson for some years, is actively campaigning for the position, which will be filled by the commission in its meeting of February 11. Matilla is being assisted by commissioner Sidney Chism, among others, and has reportedly nailed down several commitments on both sides of the aisle in his quest to reach the magic number of seven on the 13-member body.

Meanwhile, Carol Chumney, the former city council member who ran second to incumbent Willie Herenton in last year's mayoral race, is also interested in the position and has sounded out commission members for support.

An issue with at least one member is whether Chumney would be willing, if appointed, to remove her name from consideration in the 2010 county mayor’s race. Thus far, reportedly, she has shied away from such a commitment.

UPDATE: Chumney has responded with a courteous note that states she was "surprised" at this report and goes on to maintain, "I have absolutely no interest in the job. I did make an inquiry about the process at the request of some constituents. For the record, I want no part of any backroom dealing making and certainly hope the process for whomever does apply will be above-board."

I am prepared to let this statement speak for itself, but, for the record, I will turn up one of several hole cards that occasioned this item: The fact is (based on confirmed information), Chumney sought the support of one commissioner, who provisionally agreed to supply it, and she subsequently had a meeting with two other commissioners, whereupon she sounded them out for support as well.

It was at this latter meeting that she was reportedly asked to provide assurances that she would not use an appointment as trustee as a stepping stone for a county mayor's race. (This may be the background of Chumney's "backroom dealing" reference.)

Caution: None of this is to discount what Chumney maintains, that she undertook her inquiries at the prompting of constituents (though as a non-office holder now she might rather have said "supporters") and that she subsequently decided that such a quest might indeed involve too much behind-the-scenes intrigue.

In any case, Chumney's formal disavowal makes Matilla a prohibitive favorite to get the appointment.

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