Describing himself as “a tenant who has improved the property” during his 18 months so far at the helm of Memphis government, Mayor A C Wharton filed for reelection Monday at the Election Commission downtown.
And a day later, two local politicians with at least some name I.D. allowed as how they wanted to evict the current occupant and take over the property themselves. These were former city councilman Edmund Ford Sr. (whose son and namesake, current councilman Ed Ford Jr., is a candidate for reelection to his father’s old District 6 seat) and Shelby County Commissioner James Harvey, who plans to conduct what he calls a “people’s campaign.”
Both Ford and Harvey made appearances at the Election Commission on Tuesday, the former to file quietly, the latter appearing at the Commission’s downtown office with a group of supporters in tow but somewhat in advance of his “paperwork,” which, he said, would be forthcoming later in the day.
Speaking to the media after his own filing at the Election Commission, Wharton, who won the mayor’s office in a special election in 2009 after the retirement of former mayor Willie Herenton, boasted that in the short period he has been office, his tenure has resulted in “thousands of jobs, acres and acres cleaned up….We are bucking the national trend.”
What he has endeavored to do, said the mayor, who has made a point of industrial recruitment, was to see that there are jobs for people, “make the streets safe so they can get to the job. And when they earn a little money, make sure that that the air is clean, make sure there’s a playground nearby….Most people I know say, ‘I want a job. I want a safe community, I want the community cleaned up, I want to be able to relax. I want to have a sense of peace.’”
With a large crowd of supporters arrayed around him and with his wife Ruby, an attorney, at his side, Wharton said that, before deciding to file again for reelection, “I talked to the Man Upstairs first, then talked to my mother, and this lady right here.” (When the mayor was told he could not pay his filing fee by check, Mrs. Wharton had found the right amount of cash in her purse.)
“I’ve learned you cannot be all things to all people,” Wharton said. “Maybe I do try. If I had to rate myself, that would be a weakness.”
He proclaimed his continued zest for his job. “I’m up every morning at 4:30, in the gym at 5:30, can’t wait to get down here and stay until 10 at night. I enjoy my job…..You can’t whine. If you’re going to be a city mayor anywhere in the United States of America, they didn’t elect a whiner, and I ain’t going to whine, because I’m doing what I like to do.”