Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell visited the Midtown Republican Club meeting last week.
The guest speaker is seeking the 8th Congressional District seat currently occupied by Stephen Fincher. Luttrell joins several other candidates in vying for that seat: Dr. George Flinn, State Senator Brian Kelsey, former US attorney David Kustoff, businessman David Maldonado and Shelby County Register of Deeds Tom Leatherwood among a few.
Luttrell shared a bit of his background in explaining why he would be best for the job. “Stephen Fincher surprised us all when he announced he wasn’t running again. I was raised in a rural area and moved to Memphis in high school. The district needs someone to represent both urban and rural.”
The mayor was quick to point out his other qualifications. He’s been a school teacher, in the military and a military policeman. He was recently the sheriff and is now the county mayor. “Public safety has always been important to me,” he said.
So has running government efficiently. Luttrell pointed out that the county debt “is down to 1.2 billion; down quite a bit. We are very aggressively paying it down and should have it down below a billion. The money we are saving we use to pay down our debt and then put in areas we have neglected like county buildings and county roads – infrastructure,” he said.
“No tax increases are anticipated” either, he said, although he would like the legislature to raise the gas tax for help with roads. “Right now we have enough money to pave 20 miles a year and the roads are getting much more traffic than in the 40s and 50s when the gas tax rate was set.”
Of the 8th district, Luttrell says “it’s a very conservative district. “I’m not going to try to out-conservative my opponents. The campaign trail doesn’t have to be strongly adversarial,” he said. Seeing fellow candidate David Maldonado in the audience Luttrell remarked that they had both attended a debate that was cordial, “the way politics should be.”
When he opened the floor to questions, Luttrell was asked why he wanted to go to Washington and what current member of Congress he most admired. He said he always had a fascination with DC and the politics there. As for his favorite, Luttrell didn’t hesitate and picked Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
“He’s a policy wonk, is good on the budget and has family values,” Luttrell said. “Ryan’s been instrumental in promoting conservative values. He’s also concerned about incivility. It gets very dirty – unnecessarily. Ryan has demonstrated dignity and courage.”
When questioned about the Speaker’s accomplishments with a budget that doesn’t seem to meet with conservative standards of small government, Luttrell explained that it was John Boehner’s budget and that Ryan had only been in that office for six months.
Luttrell then couldn’t take any more questions because he needed to go by a pharmacy and pick up a prescription for his wife, suffering with sinus problems.