Chumney Calls on Wharton to Disavow Interest in Being Metro Mayor

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Chumney (left) and Ellis talk after Rotary meeting
  • JB
  • Chumney (left) and Ellis talk after Rotary meeting
A little practical politics crept into what was otherwise a fairly theoretical exposition Tuesday on the work of the current Metro Charter Commission.

Julie Ellis, chair of the 15-member commission, had just finished a brief luncheon address to members of the Memphis Rotary Club at the University Club and was entertaining questions when up popped Rotarian Carol Chumney, who has run for city mayor twice and county mayor once.

Explaining that some time back she had attended a workshop with the mayor of a recently consolidated Louisville, one also attended by current Memphis mayor A C Wharton, Chumney said, “We both learned how Louisville did it.”

And here, said Chumney, was how: “Both the city mayor and the county mayor agreed not to run for Metro mayor. That took politics out of the equation. It made it a totally non-political discussion, and they were able to come up with a compromise that they needed, because nobody was positioning and posturing to run for the new Metro mayor.”

Chumney then asked Ellis point blank: Had the commission received any assurances from “our county mayor, candidates for our county mayor, and our city mayor” not to run for Metro mayor if the consolidation initiative should pass muster with the voters?

(Conspicuously, Chumney did not mention in her list former candidates for city or county mayor.)

Ellis explained that the commission had not asked for nor received such assurances and went through a brief recitation of essentially non-political discussions she had had on the consolidation process with Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford, Memphis Mayor Wharton, and Sheriff Mark Luttrell, currently a candidate for county mayor.

Chumney responded that she was aware of some “posturing to have the current mayor,” evidently meaning Wharton, run for Metro mayor. Instead, said Chumney, Wharton and those urging him to run” should step aside and do what’s best for the city.” Else she said, “they cold jeopardize the whole thing.”

In her formal speech, Ellis had reviewed several of the consolidation possibilities currently under review by the commission and attempted to be reassuring about the independence of Shelby County’s six “municipal cities,” saying, “We are not Venezuela, and we do not intend to nationalize them.”

She also stressed that “the first vote” taken by commission members was on behalf of keeping the school issue separate from any final charter.

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