Of all the mayoral debates and forums that have been held so far this campaign season, perhaps the most bizarre was the one sponsored Tuesday night at the University of Memphis’ Rose Theatre by the NAACP. Three of the 12 candidates on stage were textbooks definitions of the weird and eccentric.
One of those candidates was Leo Awgowhat, who explained that he had a multiple personality disorder and was living off government “crazy checks.” (At birth he was known as Jason Wells.) If his chosen — and now apparently legal — last name sounds like part of a familiar knock-knock joke with a profane punchline, it’s because it is. The T-shirt he wore Tuesday night (next to a somewhat grossed-out and ultra-serious ‘Randy Cagle) all but spelled out most of the punchline: “Go —-k Yo-rself.”
I don’t know what I would do if I’m elected mayor of Memphis. [unintelligible] If I do get elected mayor of Memphis, well, there are some things I will do. I will go decriminalize marijuana and focus on the hard drugs, the real drugs, the junkies, keep them out of Memphis, and it’ll be a better place to live. And I would use The Pyramid. It’s not being used for anything. Well, let’s let Memphis take it for [unintelligible] — Let’s be known for something in the world. Let’s be known for having the best pot. It sounds like a good idea to me.
A second candidate was the somewhat over-familiar full-time zany Robert “Prince Mongo” Hodges.
Well, the thing that you need to do the most is to go look in the mirror tonight and see what a fool you’ve been for electing the thieves that you’ve continued to elect to run this city year after year. Count the ones you’ve got in prison today, or tonight. I think you’ve got seven. And that starts in the Senate and works its way down. So you have been in bed with the most corruption of anybody in the world in politics. So I think you need to vote for me, and you’ll straighten it all out, because I’m not one to be bought and sold.
And then there was Ernie Lunati, who has had several brushes with the law, including a conviction for “attempting to procure females for prostitution.” He sat — or slouched — next to a visibly uncomfortable Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery during the forum. (His pronunciation here is spelled phonetically, as it sounded.)
Black people and white people have asked me: Mr. Lunati, what are you going to do for mayor. Well, I’ll tell you what I’m on do. I’m on take the inspection station down. You won’t have to take your car through inspection. They don’t do it in Bartlett, Germantown, Millington. Everything’s going great there. That costs you up to $300 a year. I’m on lower your sales taxes to 3 ½ percent. I’m on lower your property taxes 75 percent. I’m on cut down government waste. That TDOT company, I’m on shut ‘em down completely. They’ve been erecting cameras at every stoplight. They’ll send you a ticket in the mail, it’s gone be $160, and he — [gestures toward Lowery] — had ‘em to put it in there, so I’m gone [unintelligible because of crowd noise ] it’s costing you taxpayers $2 million a year [unintelligible\ because of laughter. laughter].