View Full Version : Elections former Memphis Mayor possibly to run in special election he caused by retiring

08-19-2009, 07:44 PM
Willie Herenton picks up petition to run for Memphis mayor — again
By Alex Doniach (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Thursday, August 13, 2009

In a move that baffled both allies and critics, Willie W. Herenton took an initial step Thursday toward reclaiming the Memphis mayor’s office he retired from less than two weeks ago.

Blaming Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery’s “reckless style of leadership” and a crowded field of mayoral candidates, Herenton walked into the offices of the Shelby County Election Commission Thursday and picked up a petition to run again for mayor.


Willie Herenton, shown on his last day as Memphis mayor, may run again.


After hearing that former Mayor Willie Herenton had pulled a petition for the special election, Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery checks a device for confirmation today while at The Peabody for the Memphis in May luncheon.
Statement issued by Herenton
Petition issued to Willie Herenton to run for mayor

Herenton made no statement indicating he actually will join the race, nor did he turn in the petition with the $100 filing fee and 25 signatures required to run.

But the five-term former mayor is now in possession of the paperwork needed to run in the election his July 30 retirement provoked.

The special election — estimated to cost taxpayers $1.16 million, $840,000 of it paid by the city of Memphis and the rest by the state — will be Oct. 15.

If Herenton were to win re-election, city officials said his $75,000 annual pension would freeze.

In a prepared statement, Herenton said he still plans to run for U.S. Congress in 2010, but that he’s concerned about the direction of the city in his absence.

“It is clear to many citizens that my retirement from office created opportunities for Mayor Pro Tem (Myron) Lowery and a puzzling list of mayoral candidates to turn our city backward,” Herenton wrote. “I am disappointed in Myron’s reckless style of leadership. He must be stopped.”

“The city I love deserves better,” Herenton said.

Lowery — the former City Council chairman who, by charter, will serve as interim mayor until the special election — has weathered a rocky two weeks in office.

The city attorney, a Herenton appointee, sued Lowery for attempting to fire him. Council members have questioned whether Lowery should have recused himself in a council vote to vacate the mayor’s office.

Herenton said he’s seeking a “referendum resolution” that would allow voters to rescind the City Charter amendment that elevated Lowery to the mayor’s office.

“We cannot allow Mayor Pro Tem Lowery to be elected mayor during the upcoming special election,” Herenton said. “... Therefore, I have pulled a petition to run in the upcoming mayoral special election.”

Lowery, who is running in the special election, dismissed Herenton’s latest actions as “more confusion.”

“The former mayor lacks credibility,” Lowery said. “This is another example of saying one thing and doing another.

“With that said, I welcome him to the race. He is free to run. The citizens will have a wonderful opportunity to fill the remainder of the term he voluntarily gave up.”

Meanwhile, news of Herenton’s prospective mayoral bid mystified allies, supporters and those planning an election to replace him.

“I think it’s shocking for everyone to know that we’re about to spend a million dollars on a special election to replace a man who intends to run in that special election,” said Election Commission chairman Bill Giannini.

Giannini said Herenton has the right to run in the special election, but he called Herenton’s move “one more act in this surreal episode that has transpired since the mayor’s initial resignation.”

Herenton, who retired from the mayor’s office after nearly 18 years, first announced an intention to step down in March 2008, three months into his fifth term. In June, he again announced he would retire, saying he planned to run for Congress against U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen and go into business with his son, Rodney.

On Thursday, even County Commissioner Sidney Chism, a Herenton ally who is managing his 9th Congressional District campaign, was surprised by Herenton’s latest move.

“I don’t know what he’s doing,” Chism said early in the day. “I heard that (Herenton pulled a petition to run in the election) a few minutes ago, and I’m trying to catch up with him to see what’s going on.”

Chism did say, however, that Herenton has long been concerned with the crowded field of candidates jockeying to replace him.

“In the crowded field you don’t ever know what you’re getting into,” Chism said.

Residents in the South Memphis area where Herenton was raised and educated were similarly confused by the news.

“I think it’s kind of foolish,” said Richard Dean, after eating lunch at the Piccadilly Cafeteria in Whitehaven where Herenton is known to dine.

“He had the job, he gave it up,” said Dean, 67, who said he voted for Herenton in the last election.

“I believe he’s pushing his power around now,” added James Washington, 31, a South Memphis barber, seated on a picnic bench outside the Gaston Community Center, blocks away from where Herenton was raised.

And when contacted Thursday, Cohen, the congressional incumbent, said “another day, another story.”

“Whoever the mayor of Memphis is, we are going to work with them, whether they like it or not,” he added, laughing.

Then, paraphrasing Henry David Thoreau —- “or was it Ralph Waldo Emerson?” — he said, “We all march to the beat of a different drummer … and I don’t know whether (Herenton’s) is Max Roach or Buddy Rich. Probably Max Roach.”

08-19-2009, 07:45 PM
Well, is my hometown still bats*** crazy? Check.

I like the photo of the mayor pro tem checking his blackberry thinking "No f***ing way!"

Thoughts, UP?

08-19-2009, 08:40 PM

If only we could get a special election on the ballot in Kansas City, MO in the first place.

08-19-2009, 09:04 PM
If you look very carefully at the photo, you can see a family resemblance to Brett Favre.

Ultra Peanut
08-19-2009, 10:08 PM

At first I facepalmed when I saw that he was running again, but seriously, this guy is fucking amazing and I heartily endorse his efforts to keep the Memphis media busy.

08-20-2009, 09:26 AM
Willie GIVES NO ****.

At first I facepalmed when I saw that he was running again, but seriously, this guy is ****ing amazing and I heartily endorse his efforts to keep the Memphis media busy.

Who are you going to vote for? (if you don't mind sharing that)

Ultra Peanut
08-20-2009, 12:02 PM
I don't live in the city of Memphis.

I would totally vote for Lawler, though, because then maybe he won't shit up Raw with his boring, stale commentary (not that Cole helps).