Saying that "the city I love deserves better" than the alternatives offered it, recently retired former mayor Willie Herenton picked up a petition from the Election Commission Thursday morning to run in the Ocober 15th special mayoral election to succeed himself.
Herenton also proposed in a statement to sponsor a referendum resolution "to rescind the current charter amendment that elevated Myron Lowery to the office of Mayor Pro Tem [and] prescribe limitations on the powers of a non-elected mayor. "The mayor's statement follows:
My primary political goal is to represent the ninth congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. I have every intention of being a congressional candidate during the August 2010 election.Even as a stunned city was awaiting elaboration on Herenton's reasons for running to succeed himself, reactions from others were coming fast and furious.
However, during the interim, recent events have compelled me to step forth to provide leadership and express my sincere feelings on how our city can continue to move forward, despite our current dilemma.
My recent retirement from the office of Mayor has created this situation and I feel obligated to seek alternatives to Myron Lowery and an “anyone can win” mayoral race.
The city I love deserves better.
Therefore, I am also preparing a referendum resolution that would allow the citizens of Memphis to rescind the current charter amendment that elevated Myron Lowery to the office of Mayor Pro Tem. This resolution would prescribe limitations on the powers of a non-elected mayor.
It is clear to many citizens that my retirement from office created opportunities for Mayor Pro Tem Lowery and a puzzling list of mayoral candidates to turn our city backward. I am=2 0disappointed in Myron’s reckless style of leadership. He must be stopped.
We cannot allow Mayor Pro Tem Lowery to be elected mayor during the upcoming special election. Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict a clear winner with a complicated array of mayoral candidates in the race.
Therefore, I have pulled a petition to run in the upcoming mayoral special election.
Calling Herenton’s action “outrageous,” Shelby County Election Commission chairman Bill Giannini noted, “Because of this man’s resignation we’re already going to be out a million dollars in order to hold this special election. I’m sure the voters will find that hard to forget.”
Mayor Pro Tem Lowery “welcomes anyone who wants to run in this race,” according to Donna Davis, his spokesperson. Said Davis: “Mayor Lowery thinks it’s up to the citizens to decide. If Mayor Herenton has changed his mind [about retiring], welcome to the pack. Mayor Lowery himself is still running."
Candidate Carol Chumney's reaction was even more matter-of-fact: "We're just moving ahead with our campaign."
Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton, generally considered the front runner in the special mayoral election, had this to say via Twitter: "Tired of the drama? Show the world who YOU support for Mayor. Rally tmrrw nite," then referenced his campaign website. Wharton spokerson Tonya Meeks later issued a fuller statement on the county mayor's behalf, containing these key sentences: "Mayor Wharton has not and will not comment on any other candidate in the race. His focus is on running his campaign and laying out a progressive vision for this community.
Candidate Jerry Lawler released a lengthy statement in which he said, "Once more we are being hounded and polluted by the same tired, old political games. With the announcement that former mayor Herenton has pulled a petition to run in the upcoming special election, this city needs a fresh start more than ever."
But Lawler concurred with one aspect of Herenton's statement: "I, like Mr. Herenton and many Memphians, am extremely concerned and troubled by Mayor Pro Tem Lowery's overzealous power grabs."
Fox News 13 had reported this morning that a source close to Herenton said the former mayor knew nothing about the petition being pulled in his name. However, the Flyer subsequently learned from several sources at the Election Commission and first reported that Herenton himself picked up the petition.
Then came the issuance of Herenton's statement.
Back during the period between June 25, when Herenton announced his retirement plans and July 30, when his retirement ceremony actually occurred in the Hall of Mayors, Herenton had been notoriously evasive about when he would follow through on leaving the office.
It had largely been forgotten in the aftermath of the retirement, but mayoral intimate Sidney Chism had actually theorized during that period of uncertainty that Herenton might himself run in the special election.
More to come, as this story develops.