He wasn’t there to receive the endorsements or to comment on them, but interim county mayor Joe Ford got the official blessings Thursday of the Tennessee Equality Project and the Sierra Club.
The joint endorsements were conveyed in a press conference at the Golf Clubhouse at Overton Park. In addition to Jonathan Cole, who spoke for the TEP, and Sue Williams, who read a statement on behalf of both Ford and the Sierra Club’s other endorsee of the day, county commissioner Steve Mulroy, attendees were state Senator Beverly Marrero, environmental activist Scott Banbury, and Mulroy.
The Sierra Club statement, written by club chair Nancy Brannon, praised Democrat Ford for his “regular meeting with nearly 60 members of the environmental community, who are addressing environmental and community issues on several fronts, and coordinating with administrative staff.”
Ford was commended for pushing forward with the Sustainable Shelby plan of former county mayor (now Memphis mayor) A C Wharton and for numerous other services.
Mulroy, a Democratic incumbent who is in a reelection race with Republican opponent Rolando Toyos, was cited for his “proven record of supporting the environment, “ including work on behalf of “higher air quality standards and to get funding for tire recycling and cleanup of illegal dumps.”
Cole said the TEA “proudly” endorsed Ford. “We do this because we believe he is going to make a commitment to being an equality advocate as mayor and proceed to protect the rights of gay, Lesbian, and transgendered citizens of Tennessee….We believe Joe Ford is the right person to do that as mayor.”
In a televised debate with Republican opponent Mark Luttrell earlier this month, both Ford and Luttrell had answered “no” when asked if they favored passage of an ordinance banning discrimination against gays, Lesbians and transgendered persons. An ordinance to that end has been introduced on the city council by Janis Fullilove and Mulroy, who secured passage of a non-discrimination resolution on the commission last year, has indicated he will try again to pass a binding ordinance.
Both Cole and Mulroy said they had been assured Ford was now fully in support of such an ordinance. Mulroy said that Ford had suggested in a private conversation that he had meant to say “no comment” at the debate rather than “no” outright.
All five attendees at the press conference expressed support for Councilwoman Fullilove for persistence in the presence of threats and harassment.
In expressing thanks at receiving the endorsement of both organizations, Mulroy said, “What is really important about today is what it says about the county mayor’s race….Joe Ford is a true progressive. If reelected, he will take Shelby County forward in a progressive manner.”
In what seemed an oblique contrast between the incumbent and his opponent, Mulroy said Ford would bring into county government “intelligent, progressive professionals, not Tea Party hacks.”