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Suburbs Go For Separate Schools

Suburbanites who want municipal school districts celebrated last night.

The results of yesterday’s election are in. Residents in all six of the suburbs outside of Memphis voted to create separate school systems rather than join a merged Memphis and Shelby County School district in 2013.

Residents in Millington voted to form a municipal school district, but did not pass the ½ sales tax increase to pay for it.

Stephen Piper voted for a Collierville school district. Piper doesn’t have any kids, but he still wants to see a separate school system. And Piper is willing to pay more in taxes to get it.

“It reminds me of a Simpsons episode,” Piper said. “No one wanted to take care of the schools, because they all had to pay more taxes. I think this is worth paying a little extra for. You know, cause, I hate to sound corny—the kids are the future. They’re the ones that are going to be the next presidents, the next senators, and we better take care of them now, or we’ll be in trouble later on.”

A federal judge could throw out the results of these referendums if he finds that the state law, which allowed them to happen, is unconstitutional. That decision is expected before November.

The ballot questions drove turn-out in the suburbs. But it wasn’t enough to sweep Republicans to victory in the Shelby County Property Assessor’s race, or the General Sessions Court Clerk contest. Cheyenne Johnson and Edward Stanton Jr. held onto those seats. They are the only Democrats to currently hold a countywide office.

And finally, there were three tight contests where incumbent Democratic state legislators were fighting for their party’s nomination. The Democrats were forced to duke it out because of redistricting in Nashville. That redistricting also created a problem for the Shelby County Election Commission. The commission handed out thousands of incorrect ballots during early voting.

G.A. Hardaway won the Democratic Party nomination in state House District 93. John DeBerry won in state House District 90. And Jim Kyle won in state Senate District 30. These races were decided by hundreds of votes. And they were all races where bad ballots were dished out by the election commission. So those results may yet be contested. The comptroller will investigate the election commission’s mistakes. 

I love living in Memphis, but I'm not from the city. I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I spent many hours at a highly tender age listening to NPR as my parents crisscrossed that city in their car, running errands. I don't amuse myself by musing about the purity of destiny, but I have seriously wondered how different my life would be if my parents preferred classic rock instead of Car Talk.
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