The District 95 Special Election Shuffle

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Grab your partner, round we go.  Chicken in the bread pan, picking up dough. It's a modern day square dance of confusion as officials get ready for the vote to replace Mark Lovell in the State Legislature. Local 24's Mike Matthews is on this one.

You will be in Nashville from at least early Tuesday morning until late Thursday night, probably longer. It's a part time job, so you will need to hope your employer will be understanding, or maybe you can afford to do it. Salary for a member of the Tennessee General Assembly is $19,009. But you do get $171 a day for food, transportation and housing.

Shelby County Elections Supervisor Linda Phillips says the election to replace Mark Lovell is expensive. Lovell's political career lasted about four and a half weeks, before he was asked by fellow Republicans to resign. There had been an allegation from a legislative staffer that Lovell had touched her in a sexually inappropriate way.

Anyway, take that $19,009, collect it for thirty years, and you'd have how much a special election will cost.

"We've got a budget request in for $320,000 for two elections," Phillips says. "The primary will be more than the general election, because there are more ads, more legal ads, more candidates on the primary ballot."

Nine people pulled petitions, that's what they call it.  They take petitions and then it's their job to find 25 registered voters in District 95.  Anybody can "pull a petition." The key is getting 25 voters in your district to sign it.

It's historically a Republican stronghold, in Collierville, and Germantown.  The four people who have qualified to be on the ballot are all Republican.

Melissa Marshall, Frank Uhlhorn, William Vaughan and Billy Patton are their names.

The deadline for qualifying is March 16th.

Linda Phillips says usually voters are totally underwhelmed during these votes. "Special elections are traditionally fairly low turnout," she says. "So the candidate that gets enough of their friends and neighbors out to vote will win the seat."

Meantime, Shelby County Commissioners are supposed to name an interim representative for District 95. Commissioner Heidi Shafer says  "I have been getting lots of calls about having this district represented."  She might be the only one, as Commissioner Terry Roland says it will be a waste of time for them to appoint an interim commissioner, because the legislative session is expected to be over by April 15th.

Early voting for the primary runs April 7, through April 22nd. The primary election day is April 27th. The general election will be June 15th.


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