Citizen's group seeks to change county charter - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Citizen's group seeks to change county charter

A citizen's group wants to put the breaks on an effort to change the Shelby County Charter. A change that would turn some elected offices into appointed positions.

John Lunt says the Shelby County Charter must keep "State Constitutional Officers" elected.

"How many times have you seen people that are appointed sit down with the average citizen?  It just doesn't happen," Lunt said.

There are five State Constitutional Offices. The Assessor of Property, County Clerk, Register of Deeds, Sheriff and Trustee.

"And we want the citizens of Shelby County to have the right to vote for them," Lunt said.

So, as the leader of the Concerned Citizens of Shelby County, Lunt got approval from the Election Commission to distribute the petition.

Meanwhile, The Shelby County Commission Charter Ad Hoc Committee is considering the changes Lunt fears.

"My own view is that we should look at each office individually.  We might want to decide that we elect the Sheriff because the Sheriff has a lot of policy-making discretion.  But do we really want to make sure that we have a Republican versus Democrat election on the person who hands out the license plates?" commissioner Steve Mulroy said.

Mulroy said the group has a steep hill to climb.

"They have until March 15 to get 91,000 petition signatures in order to get this on the ballot.  That's a pretty tall order," Mulroy said.

But Lunt thinks he can do it, if he gets as many volunteers as last time.

He's the man who led the petition drive to form the Memphis City Charter Commission in 2004.

Lunt already has a number of signatures, but he says it's hard to to get a count. He's distributed his petition by hand, snail mail and through email. If he meets his goal, the vote on this will be in August.

Click here to e-mail Kontji Anthony.

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