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Mayoral Challengers Differ on Calls for Debate With Herenton

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In response to an apparent early brushoff Wednesday from Mayor Willie Herenton of the idea of debates and forums involving this year’s mayoral field, the mayor’s chief challengers are stepping up the pressure — while disagreeing among themselves about possible formats.

City council member Carol Chumney held a press conference Thursday morning at Court Square to call for a one-on-one format featuring herself and Herenton. She added that she would be amenable to forums including other candidates but said that polls have indicated the contest is essentially between herself and Herenton.

Apprised of that, former MLGW head Herman Morris also said a one-on-one format would be ideal but insisted it should involve the mayor and himself, as “the only challenger with a serious chance of beating him.” He, too, said he would be amenable to a larger field.

A fourth candidate, former Shelby County Commissioner John Willingham, said “a lack of confidence” was indicated by a candidate’s call for a one-on-one, referring to Chumney’s press conference call specifically as “a game of one-upsmanship,” and suggested a wide-open format with all eligible candidates participating.

Among the mayoral-debate forums in the offing is one scheduled for September 11th at the Convention Center, co-sponsored by the Rotary Club and the Flyer.

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