Saturday, April 22, 2017

District House Seat 95 and the Special Election

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to create a kind of "institutional memory", so that people would have a sense of history about the goings on in Germantown. I only wish someone had started something like this years ago, as I usually cannot easily go back to the past to create an instant snapshot.

I will make an exception to my reluctance to cover past events when something from the past is particulary relevant to a current issue, and when those past events fall into one of the the main themes of this blog, which are transparency, competence, and honesty. In this case the "current" is the 95th District Special Election Primary for Tennessee House of Representatives. 

This race is particularly odd because the last person that held this seat left in peculiar circumstances. He had held the seat just a few months, after winning an election against the incumbent, who also seemed very peculiar.  Now we are faced with an election that will cost at least $120,000. Early voting is almost over, and the voting is described as "minuscule, meager, and itty bitty."  

A good overview of the election is provided in Clay Bailey's column in the Commercial Appeal. 

Who Benefits from Low Early Voting Numbers in District 95? 

Mr. Bailey answers that question thusly: "Someone once told me the winner of such special elections is usually the candidate with the biggest family or who attends the largest Sunday School class."

The District includes just the eastern portion of Germantown, and also Collierville and other portions of eastern Shelby County (see map). The Germantown administration seems very interested in promoting voting here so that the one Germantown candidate in the race, Frank Uhlhorn, will have a better chance of winning.  

Frank Uhlhorn, the Germantown candidate, is a property developer (Enclave) and cancer survivor that is close to our Mayor. In fact, I was told that the Mayor's father is the treasurer of Mr. Uhlhorn's campaign. He was an incumbent Germantown alderman in 2008 when he faced a challenge by Mark Billingsly. I find it important to remind people of an incident in that race that infuriated many Germantown citizens. 

After early voting ended in 2008, our citizens learned that Mike Palazzolo (incumbent candidate for alderman and current Mayor of Germantown), Frank Uhlhorn (incumbent candidate for alderman),  and Gary Pruitt (incumbent candidate for alderman) had sent out campaign literature strongly resembling a Republican "ballot", implying that they were being endorsed by the Republican party. They broke the law by not including the identity of the entity or people who financed the campaign literature. Of course, if they had shown that they themselves had paid for the literature, it would have defeated their purpose, which was to try to convince the voters that they had the backing of the Republican party.  That was untrue, as neither political party makes endorsements in aldermen races. I found many articles about the incident. Here are just a few, if you want more detailed accounts-- 

Gibbons' Pressure Tactics Outed Germantown Pols 

Germantown Voters Protest Misleading Ballots
Wrists Slapped in Campaign Law Violation 

The only penalty the three candidates faced was that they were forced to admit that they did not put on the campaign literature (faked Republican "ballot") that they themselves financed it.  At this point 41% of Germantown citizens had already voted, and many were enraged that they could not change their vote. 

As it turned out, of the three, only Mike Palazzolo prevailed in that election. We citizens are still paying for the past employment of Gary Pruitt and Frank Uhlhorn as aldermen, as they are among the many recipients of the generous insurance policies the aldermen so generously voted for themselves while in office

Since I live in the western part of the city and do not vote in this election, I have not researched any of the other candidates. If you live in the district, please do your homework and please vote.

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