Shelby County Commissioner on the campaign trail - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby County Commissioner on the campaign trail

They told him he couldn't hold office again, but tonight one Shelby County Commissioner is on the campaign trail.

County Commissioner Cleo Kirk has held the same seat for 17 years. The state Supreme Court told him that was enough. But despite that, Cleo Kirk is literally running for office again.

The first day of early voting brought a crowd of campaign staff and it brought a candidate who has absolutely no chance of holding office, even if he wins the race.

So why is Shelby County Commissioner Cleo Kirk working the trail?

"I'm here to give the people a choice," he told Action News 5.

Well, it's not much of a choice. When Kirk lost his fight to overturn term limits, the Election Commission said he couldn't and shouldn't be removed from the ballot, even though he cannot serve again.

But Kirk tells us he's trying to win anyway.

If he does, the local Democratic party chooses a replacement for him.

"It's not fair. It's not fair to the voters." Kirk's opponent, Sidney Chism, is angry. "I think it's totally confusing to the voters for him to be out there campaigning knowing he cannot serve."

Chism - who believes he can beat Kirk anyway - says the Commissioner is trying to rig the race.

Kirk says the field should have been re-opened once the courts ruled he couldn't serve and - he says - he's just fixing a system that isn't fair.

"There are many people who didn't file because my name was on there and they didn't want to run against an incumbent, run against me," he says.

If Kirk does win, the local Democratic party can give his seat to just about anyone.

There is no Republican challenger for that Commission seat. That means this debate will come to a head in the days before and after the May primary.

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