Notes from Wednesday’s swearing in ceremony for Shelby County elected leaders at the Cannon Center:
These ceremonies are interesting, at least to me, because of who shows up. On stage and in the audience were, of course, the winners, but also some of the losers from Aug. 5.
Losing an election is not something even the most gracious politician gets over the next day. It is a painful experience. Those who win an election often have been the loser in a previous race or have at least worked on a losing campaign for some other candidate. So, it is very rare that you have a winner who rubs it in even after a hard fought political scrap. The interaction between the winner and the loser is interesting to watch.
So is the interaction between elected officials holding different offices who were vaguely aware of what was going on in the other races but didn’t have time to do much shop talk in the din of their own bids for office.
As Joy Touliatos was taking the oath of office as Juvenile Court Clerk, incoming Probate Court Clerk Paul Boyd had his head bowed saying a prayer before making the sign of the cross. It was a private moment in a group of about 100 elected officials and their families gathered before an audience of hundreds more – most of whom worked in the campaigns and/or will be working in the new county government that took office Wednesday.
Former Shelby County Mayor Jim Rout was the host.
Outgoing interim mayor Joe Ford was on stage in the third row from the back with his son, Justin Ford, who is one of the six new County Commissioners.
Rout and incoming mayor Mark Luttrell each acknowledged Ford’s brief tenure and he got a standing ovation from the audience of several hundred.
Ford administered the oath of office to his son. “Raise your right hand, son,” he began.
Commissioner James Harvey borrowed the Bible incoming county school board member David Reaves used to take his oath of office.
Reaves was a bit nervous. He got a copy of his oath of office from school board chairman David Pickler.
New County Commissioner Melvin Burgess is on crutches and like several other commissioners – Sidney Chism and Walter Bailey – all Democrats — initially raised his left hand to take the oath before being corrected by Rout.
Before Bailey took the oath, Rout commented on Bailey’s return to the body after sitting out a four year term because of term limits.
“What goes around comes around,” Rout quipped.
There were a few stumbles over the wording of the oaths. Commissioner Steve Mulroy actually began his oath, “I, state your name.”