(Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 12--Candidates: David Lenoir, the incumbent Republican; Derrick Bennett, Democrat; David E. Kemp, independent.
What the trustee does: Simply put, the county trustee collects taxes. The trustee is the steward of the county's money and provides the government with information regarding its cash flow and projections.
About the candidates: Lenoir, a former University of Alabama football player, worked in financial consulting for a number of years. In 2006, he started a mutual fund and worked at local firm Sector Capital Management. In 2010, he was elected county trustee.
Bennett is the accounting manager with the Shelby County Health Department and a former accounting manager for the county government. He's a veteran of Desert Storm with the Army. He ran for trustee as an independent in 2010.
Attempts to reach Kemp were unsuccessful.
Lenoir's top issues: The incumbent views his role "as the banker for the county." To that end, he believes in a wide-ranging set of priorities that goes beyond just being the tax collector.
Lenoir touted the financial education programs his office has implemented, both as a way to help reduce poverty by sharing financial education and as a way to help the county collect delinquent taxes.
Lenoir has instituted financial education with delinquent taxpayers, and says some 1,200-1,500 of them have entered into payment arrangements with his office. "We see it as an early indicator of a win-win," he said.
Collections have exceeded forecasts by $88 million in his tenure, Lenoir said, and countywide debt has been reduced in cooperation with Mayor Mark Luttrell.
His office had close to 100 employees when he arrived in 2010 and now has around 70, he said.
Bennett's top issues: The challenger lists his priorities as running a transparent office, cutting the amount of delinquent taxes ("reduce that in half," he said), increasing the collection rate for taxes and working with state and local legislators to pass laws that reflect the current times.
"We've got to look at our laws that are on the books," Bennett said, indicating that many of them are outdated.
Bennett said he would assess the office by doing flow charts and then by learning everyone's job in the office by doing it first.
He stresses that working in and around county government for a number of years allows him to "know the structural part of everything" and equips him to run a trustee's office that can be a vital part of the county's overall goals.
He's focused, he said, on minimizing the amount of delinquent taxes the county has.
"We want to focus on the numbers," he said.
Follow the candidates: Lenoir's website is davidlenoir.com, his Twitter is @DCLenoir and he is on Facebook.
Bennett's website is bennettforcountytrustee.com, his Twitter is @VoteForBennett and he is also on Facebook.
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