History was made in my Hometown of Memphis, Tennessee on Thursday Night.
The Commercial Appeal has the story:
Voters in majority-black Memphis on Thursday elected the city’s first white mayor in 24 years as City Councilman Jim Strickland’s message of change propelled him over incumbent A C Wharton.
Although a glitch caused a delay of several hours in tallying the vote, Wharton conceded to Strickland shortly after 10 p.m., saying he had no regrets about the race. Strickland declared victory a few minutes later.
Complete but unofficial returns showed Strickland took 42 percent of the vote to Wharton’s 22 percent. Harold Collins captured 18 percent and Mike Williams had 16 percent. Six other candidates stood at less than 1 percent each. There is no runoff in the mayor’s race.
Strickland was the only white contender among the four major candidates.
It was a rare victory for a challenger against an incumbent — the most recent was Willie Herenton’s historic 1991 win over Dick Hackett — and the first time a council member will move into the city’s top job since 1972.
“Today the people of Memphis spoke loudly and clearly. You want a new direction for this city,” Strickland told a crowd at the Memphis Botanic Garden. “Today, the people of Memphis — you — said we want change.”
Wharton conceded to Strickland in an upbeat concession speech to supporters.
“This is Memphis, Tennessee, known for its graciousness and its hospitality. And I’ve tried to epitomize that throughout all my public service and nothing is going to change,” Wharton said. “That’s just the way I roll.”
Watching Wharton’s speech on a borrowed cell phone, Strickland was asked by an aide how he felt. “Good,” he simply said.
In his victory speech a few moments later to deafening cheers, Strickland said he would be the mayor for all Memphis — including the people who didn’t vote for him. He said he would spend the next four years trying to win them over as well.
The crowd included well-known names from Memphis: Convention & Visitors Bureau chief Kevin Kane, County Commissioner Steve Basar, and friend and fellow City Council member Alan Crone. And joining him in the back, shortly before Wharton made the call, was County Mayor Mark Luttrell.
Strickland called Wharton “an outstanding ambassador for the city of Memphis” and thanked him for his service.
For Wharton, toward the end of the evening, none of it — the 510 colorful balloons, the skewered chicken and crab cakes, the overpowering live band, or even the cash bar — could lift the watch party’s spirits or candidate Wharton to a victory Thursday night.
Ultimately, Wharton descended from his Holiday Inn-University of Memphis hotel room to deliver an upbeat, undaunted concession speech.
“It’s been a good run,” the smiling 71-year-old said as 15 of his family members stood behind him on the stage.
Not for Memphis, it hasn’t, A.C.
Immediately after the controversial Mayoral Election referenced in the article, in which Former Controversial School Board President W.W. Herenton was elected Mayor, in an election, which by any measure, should have been investigated for chicanery, the demographics of Memphis, Tennessee, slowly and irrevocably began to change.
As with any major American City, more and more suburbs began to be built, to accommodate the movement of Memphians seeking to leave the city proper.
By 1997, I was one of them.
In what has become almost stereotypical, the City of Memphis began to decline under the leadership, more accurately, lack thereof, of its first Black Democratic Mayor.
And, while taxpayers left, the size of Memphis City Government expanded, like Rosie O’ Donnell at an all-you-can-eat buffet, while cronyism flourished, leading to hundreds of new City Employees, “working” in dozens of new departments, with such euphemistic “duties” as teaching the citizenry how to “Dress For Success”.
I’m not kiddin’.
While the Memphis City Government was expanding and the taxpayers were leaving, Herenton was raising property taxes and any other kind of taxes he could raise.
If you wanted to see “King Willie”, you could find him every evening, hanging out at the magnificent Lobby Bar of the historic Peabody Hotel.
Here’s a clue: Hizzoner wasn’t there to watch the Peabody Ducks. He was interested in other “birds”.
Anyway, eventually, King Willie was forced out of office by a FBI Probe, which led to the coronation of A.C. Wharton.
Instead of turning around the Bluff City’s Downhill Spiral, Wharton succeeded in putting the pedal to the metal and actually accelerating it, keeping all of Herenton’s “appointees” and adding his own, chasing even more taxpayers out of the city, through his inability to stop the burgeoning crime rate, which has led to a reluctance of major corporations to relocate to the Memphis Area.
According to the FBI, in 2014, in Memphis,
11,399 violent crimes were logged compared to 10,894 in 2013;
Homicides increased from 124 in 2013 to 140 in 2014;
501 rapes were reported in 2014 and 437 in 2013.
Property crimes declined nearly 2 percent;
Motor-vehicle thefts were up 11 percent, an anomaly in the overall drop in property crimes.
Notable among the crimes in Memphis in 2014, was the outbreak of violence committed by “Youth Mobs”, which made Memphis the object of local and national news.
Last September, I wrote that
My beloved hometown of Memphis, Tennessee has been gutted by decades of poor financial stewardship and corrupt Black Democratic Leadership, who never saw a dollar they couldn’t spend, or a relative or friend that they couldn’t give a job with the city to.
And now, Memphis’ chickens have come home… to roost…brought about by a failed school system which turned in its charter in a successful scheme to take over the more affluent county school system, only to see the county municipalities start their own individual systems, Memphis’ black citizens murdering each other every night, and gangs of black teenagers beating the snot out of innocent people, simply because they’re bored, they have no parental guidance, and they know, as “juvenile offenders”, that nothing will happen to them.
Wharton’s solution was to open the community centers until Midnight, so that the “troubled youths” could play basketball.
As I reported earlier in the week, the final nail in the coffin in the re-election bid of Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton came when it was discovered that there some more corruption in his Administration involving an
$880,000 deal between the maker of MPD’s body cameras and his campaign manager. The city required TASER International to hire a woman or minority PR company to educate the public about their new body cameras for MPD.TASER chose Deidre Malone, who also runs Wharton’s re-election campaign.
“It’s my understanding that Taser and Ms Malone by mutual consent agreed to cancel that contract,” said Wharton.
TASER said it was “disappointed” Malone didn’t tell them about her connection, and they’re committed to ethical business practices.
The mayor said he didn’t see the deal but didn’t think there was anything legally or ethically wrong with it, and apparently neither did his inner circle.
Everyone from his campaign manager, chief administrators, lawyers, and police leaders were aware of the issue.
“Had I wished I’d known before there was communication so I could say don’t do that, but it didn’t happen, and I’ll move on,” said Wharton.
The city said the money wasn’t all profit but to pay for billboards and TV ad’s, but it’s unclear how much.
Wharton said someone else will get the job, and they’ll be a minority too.
Now that the dust has cleared from Thursday Night’s Historic Election, Jim Strickland will begin the process of assembling a team, through which to attempt to undo, or at least begin to make a dent in 24 years of a level of corruption in Memphis City Government that the legendary Memphis Mayor “Boss” Crump could have never even have conceived of.
The Memphis Mayoral Election made the National News because of the fact that Jim Strickland, who happens to be White, defeated a Black Sitting Mayor in Memphis, Tennessee, a city which is almost 75% Black.
What it all boils down to is this:
The citizens of Memphis did not elect Jim Strickland based on the color of his skin…but, rather, the content of his character.
Until He Comes,