Apr 30 2011

Campaign Update: Just getting started

Posted by Steve Ross in City of Memphis

Let's Do this...somewhere

It’s almost 5 am as I write this and I can honestly say I feel a new day coming.

The birds outside are chirping and I’m beginning to feel a bit of a buzz about my campaign prospects. Of course, there’s still lots of work to be done.

First, I have to find a campaign treasurer. As much as I hate to admit it, this is one of the most critical positions on the team. In addition to handling all the campaign contributions and expenditures, the appointment of a campaign treasurer can have a huge impact on how quickly those campaign contributions roll in. It’s gotta be someone you trust, and who will keep up with the reporting dates in addition to all the other stuff. It helps if its someone with a good foothold in the community because it lends a level of credibility to a campaign. I’ve got some potential candidates in mind. We’ll see how it all shakes out in the coming days.

Second, I’ve got to get some kind of campaign account set up. Really, I could have already done this, but I’m a poor college student, and could only scrape together $35 in change from my change jar, couch, and car. I think most places want to see at least $100 to get started. Maybe a bake sale will help.

Besides finding a way for a blue collar, college student such as myself to fund a campaign, there are several other things that must be done.

I’ll have to go pull and file nominating petitions and get enough signatures from the district to qualify. The signature part is no big deal, I’ve done that before, even though I didn’t file back in 2008. The problem is finding the people to sign 9 petitions. See, a qualified signature must live in the district that its filed in. Since I don’t know what district I’ll be running in, and no one knows for sure what district they’ll find themselves in after redistricting, it can get pretty complicated.

Heck, I’m not even sure the Election Commission will let me pull all 9 petitions, which means that if I start trying now, and get shifted to another district I’ll have to start all over again. No one wants to do that, and having to do so can hurt your credibility with supporters.

So, rather than have people sign a bunch of stuff and then have to do it all over again, I’ve started a “virtual petition” facebook page for people to show their support, and get in line to be one of the names on a history making campaign for some, yet to be determined district.

I’ve also got to get my campaign website up and running with some content. While I understand that a web strategy alone won’t win you a race, its also important to have a place for potential supporters to go so they can see what you have in mind.

I’ll be working on that over the weekend.

Finally, I’m trying to decide if I need to do something to spur the City Council into action, or at least get some information shared publicly. There are many avenues that could be explored, some more adversarial than others, but I’m a peacemaker more than a trouble maker. I think they have a meeting on Tuesday. Maybe I should just go up there and ask them.

Well, it’s just after 5:30 am and I see none of my policy advisors have accepted my page “Like” request yet. I guess I’ll let them sleep since I can’t pay them at this point. It’s going to be a long slog to October. They need their rest. If you’re up, go beat them to the punch and “Like” my Facebook page.

Thanks in advance for your support.


Steve Ross

Sep 03 2009

Election Vs. Appointment and the Metro Charter Resolution

One of the biggest concerns voiced in the current discussion of the Metro Charter Resolution that has passed the County Commission, and will be addressed in the Memphis City Council on September 15th, is the “decision” to go with appointed Charter Commissioners rather than elected Charter Commissioners.

Much of this has to do with Tennessee Law as stated in TCA 7-2-101 and 7-2-102.

First, TCA 7-2-101 sets forth that:

(B) The resolution shall either:

(i) Authorize the county mayor to appoint ten (10) commissioners, subject to confirmation by the county governing body, and authorize the mayor of the principal city to appoint five (5) commissioners, subject to confirmation by the city governing body; or

(ii) Provide that an election shall be held to select members of the metropolitan government charter commission;

Both options are clearly available. Later in the same area the law notes:

(F) When the resolutions provide for an election to select members of the metropolitan government charter commission, copies of the resolution shall be certified by the clerks of the governing bodies to the county election commission, together with certificates as to the fact and date of adoption, and then an election shall be held as provided in § 7-2-102;

So what does 7-2-102 call for?

(a) No less than forty-six (46) days nor more than sixty (60) days after the adoption of a consolidation resolution by the governing bodies of a county and of its principal city, which resolution providing for an election of the members of a metropolitan government charter commission, it shall be the duty of the county election commission to hold a special election to elect members of the charter commission.

( (b) The cost of the election shall be paid out of county funds.

( (c) The ten (10) candidates receiving the highest total vote in the election shall be elected as members of the metropolitan government charter commission.

( (d) Any qualified voter of the county shall be eligible for election as a member of the charter commission.

( (e) ( The deadline for filing nominating petitions for candidates for the charter commission is twelve o’clock (12:00) noon of the fortieth day before the election.

Based on this information, the question becomes, which do you prefer?

While an election for Commissioners still SOUNDS better, the all call nature of the election, as provided by state law, means that people could be clustered in certain areas. There is NO PROVISION in the election section of the law for districts to be drawn, and no requirement that people be from a diverse cross-section of the community.

However, for appointed Commissions, the circumstance is quite different.

(C) It is the legislative intent that the persons appointed to the charter commission shall be broadly representative of all areas of the county and principal city and that every effort shall be made to include representatives from various political, social, and economic groups within the county and principal municipality; (TCA 7-2-101)

So, there are two things at play here. Under the appointment provisions there are to be 15 Commissioners, 10 from the entirety of the County and 5 from the principal city, and they are to be from a diverse cross-section of the community. Under the election provision there are to be 10 people selected from an all-call special election with no districts, and no guarantee that the Commissioners are in any way representative of the community at large.

Again I ask, “Which do you prefer?”

No process is perfect, but in my opinion, the drafters of the resolution did right by the people of the City and County by choosing the appointment process rather than the election process. Less is left to chance. There is a greater likelihood of geographic, racial and socio-economic diversity, all things that are of critical importance for our community.

I understand people’s reservations, but looking at the entirety of the law, there are no shenanigans, this was simply the better choice.