Candidates for County Commission District 2, Position 1

In the race for the Shelby County Commission's District 2, Position 1 , there are three candidates and - so far - at least two controversies. And the primary is still three weeks away.

In the race to replace Walter Bailey, Bailey himself may prove the candidate to beat.

A state Supreme Court ruling in favor of term limits meant the end of service for Walter Bailey. But it came too late. Now his name is on the ballot even though he'll never get to serve.

Bailey, who has spent a career fighting for civil rights, for the poor and for better school funding, says the field is weak.

"The candidates that seek to replace me, it seems to me, just don't have it, in terms of through experience or exposure. That's why I hope the party itself will select someone who does have those concerns," he says.

If Bailey wins the race, the Democratic party will pick a replacement.

And there are some in the party who believe they can do that if another candidate wins too. That's J.W. Gibson. Weeks ago, party leaders pointed to Gibson's past affiliation with the Republican party and declared he's not a bona fide Democrat. If he wins, they may ALSO try to replace him.

"I don't agree with them that they have an opportunity at this stage in the game to challenge my position as a Democrat," he says.

Gibson is a successful businessman and an advocate of the county's "smart growth" plan... Designed to control suburban sprawl that's forcing the county to spend more money on schools and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Darrick D. Harris' campaign has been without issue. He supports the controversial real-estate transfer fees and a countywide payroll tax and says both the public and the business community should be prepared to give a little to mend the county's debt.

"At the end of the day, I'm willing to lose the race standing for what I believe as opposed to saying anything just to get elected. We've had enough of that," he says.

Harris says it's time to elect someone with no ties to the current business or political community.

And as if it weren't sticky enough. There is no Republican in this race. Whoever wins the primary is automatically the only name on the ballot in August. That is, unless someone else appears in a write-in capacity. And - at this point - that remains possible.