Shelby Co. mayoral candidates crank up campaign - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby Co. mayoral candidates crank up campaign

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Deidre Malone said she wants to make a return to political leadership. Deidre Malone said she wants to make a return to political leadership.
Incumbent Mark Luttrell says he will seek a second term. Incumbent Mark Luttrell says he will seek a second term.

(WMC-TV) - Two candidates are cranking up campaign engines to run for Shelby County Mayor next year.

Incumbent Mark Luttrell says he will seek a second term. Former County Commissioner Deidre Malone said she wants to make a return to political leadership in county government's top job where many challenges await in tight economic times.

Before you jump in the race for county mayor, consider this: falling property values are generating $48 million fewer county tax dollars, just when the county needs more money to pay for merging Memphis and Shelby County schools.

"People in positions like mine play the hand that they're dealt. For the first time in our lifetime, we've seen a devaluation of property," said Luttrell.

Luttrell, a Republican, avoids tax increases like the plague. Although, he notes the slide in property values has county government and nearly all the municipalities in Shelby County raising taxes.

"We've tried to be considerate of the taxpayers, but at the same time recognizing the obligations we have as a government," he said.

Luttrell is asking the county commission for a property tax hike that his top staff says will be felt by one third of property taxpayers.

"If you're thinking about how you are going to fund schools, right now he's asking for a tax increase. Months ago we had an opportunity to plan better," said Malone.

Malone, a Democrat, just celebrated 10 years of owning and operating her PR and marketing firm.

She said Luttrell remained largely silent on the school merger debate as well as a proposed sales tax hike for schools that was roundly rejected by voters.

"If you're about leadership, then you have an opinion ... And so in my opinion, we're totally different," she said.

But Malone concedes a tax hike of some kind is inevitable for county government this year.

Primary elections will be held next May.

The deadline to file to run for the Shelby County mayoral position has not passed. The Shelby County Commission will set the county tax rate next week on July 3.

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