Herenton reaction from Dick Hackett, Jim Gilliland, Susan Adler Thorp, Julian Bolton, and others.
Homer “Scrappy” Brannon, zoning lawyer. “It’s a new day.”
Julian Bolton, attorney, former Shelby County Commission member, and unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the Ninth Congressional District seat in 2006. He said he is supporting Herenton in 2010. “I’m not surprised. He felt like it was time to devote himself full time to a new effort. If he remained mayor he would continue to be a target of criticism.”
Steve Wirls, political science professor at Rhodes College and consultant to the Memphis Charter Commission: “The moment the office is vacant, July 11th, the chairman of the council becomes the mayor pro tem. He can be in that office for up to 180 days as long as there is a general or municipal election that will occur within those 180 days. And in that election, a successor has to be elected. The mayor pro tem can run. If there is not an election during that period, then a special election must be held within 90 days.”
Susan Adler Thorp, former political columnist for The Commercial Appeal. “The real bottom line is he had had enough. The community is fatigued with him and he was fatigued with the job. Will it change the course of government? That’s too big a ship to turn around overnight, but in the long run it will. As for the congressional race, Willie Herenton is the most unpredictable politician I ever observed. Should he stay in the race and wind up in a one-on-one with Steve Cohen, I think he will be a difficult candidate to beat, but I think Cohen will do it and could get as much as 60 percent of the vote. And Willie Fatigue will have something to do with that.”
Former Memphis mayor Dick Hackett: “What first came to my mind was we just heard this a few months ago and is this real? Obviously it sounded more and more like there is a plan and he actually was going to step down. He’s going from being number-one citizen to being just another citizen. It is interesting how people cope with that. It’s harder on some than others. It is going to be a substantial change of lifestyle for him. I was in a little different situation because I had a young wife and family at home, not an empty nest. It is going to be a dramatic change for him personally.”
Jim Gilliland, Memphis attorney and one of Herenton’s early supporters during his first term in 1992: “I was not at all surprised. He had been ready to cycle out of that chapter of his life for some time. I don’t think it had anything to do with the federal investigation.”