Analyst: More women running for political positions

SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) - More women than in past years are seeking a seat on the Shelby County Commission.

A number of national media reports have highlighted the huge role that women are playing in 2018. The most in history are running for US house, senate, or governor, and many women are vying for seats on the Shelby County Commission.

"I think what we are seeing is women rising up through the system in Shelby County," said political analyst Michael Nelson.

Right now, Shelby County Commission chairwoman Heidi Shafer is the only woman on the 13-member body. But next year, that will likely change.

Both candidates, Amber Mills and J. Racquel Collins, for the District 1 seat--which is being vacated by Terry Roland--are women.

In five other commission districts, women candidates will be choices in the August general election.

Compare that to 2014 when women were only candidates in three commission races.

"When previously marginalized groups break into the political system, it's usually from the grassroots up. So the fact that we are going to have more women on the county commission means there's a bigger talent pool to run for county mayor at some point or perhaps other offices," Nelson said.

Nelson predicts a handful of women will win seats on the Shelby County Commission this year.

In what he called the biggest surprise of Tuesday night, political newcomer Brandon Morrison beat incumbent Steve Basar in a nearly 2 to 1 vote in the Republican primary for Commission District 13.

Also notable, Nelson said, is activist Tami Sawyer's victory in the Democratic primary in Commission District 7.

But the returns didn't prove positive for women across the board. Joy Touliatos got roughly 10 percent of the vote in the Republican primary for county mayor. Nelson said Touliatos missed an opportunity in her messaging.

"Her best appeal was, 'It's time for Shelby County to elect a woman mayor, and I'm the only woman on the ballot,' but she didn't really stress that," Nelson said.

Touliatos lost the Republican primary for mayor to David Lenoir, who will face off against current state Senator Lee Harris (D) in the county mayor's race in August.

All signs point to it being a very competitive race.

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