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VOL. 122 | NO. 190 | Monday, October 8, 2007

Fifth Term Secured, Herenton Looks To Future Agenda

By Bill Dries

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This is the first week of the rest of Willie Herenton's political life.

Herenton, who was re-elected as Memphis mayor for an unprecedented fifth term Thursday, won't take the oath of office until January. But he began signaling during the final days of the campaign that a fifth term would see a renewed emphasis on past goals he has not pursued with much vigor in recent years.

They include yet another stab at consolidation of city and county governments and more direct City Hall involvement in how Memphis City Schools are run.

The outcome for Herenton was assured early Thursday night when he took the early vote by 9 percent over challenger Carol Chumney with Herman Morris Jr. running a distant third. The early vote accounted for just more than 16 percent of all the votes cast in the city election.

Herenton captured just more than 42 percent of the total vote against 13 challengers. The closest was Chumney, who had 35 percent of the vote. Morris was third with 21 percent. None of the other 11 candidates cracked 1 percent.

Herenton's percentage is the lowest of any of his four re-election efforts but not by much. In 1999, he faced a record mayoral field of 14 challengers. He won with 46 percent of the vote.


Work to do

The reworking of the city school system's structure would come at a time when the system is headed by an interim superintendent.

"I still think we need to address some of the woes of the public school system. I wanted the city to take the school system over. I think that's still a viable concept," Herenton said in an interview in which he scarcely mentioned the ongoing campaign. When he did, he referred to it as "lackluster."

"I want this community to consolidate its governments," he added. "Obviously I want to develop the 170 acres of the (Mid-South) Fairgrounds property, whether we do a new stadium or not. I'd like to take the riverfront development to a whole new level."

Herenton also talked of continuing to change the landscape of public housing in the city. Several public housing developments have been leveled during Herenton's fourth term.

His fifth term will see the first new structures begin to rise from the footprint of Dixie Homes, one of the city's oldest public housing projects. The new Legends Park development will be a mixed-income residential development. Buildings already are taking shape on what was the old Lamar Terrace development.

Change in order

About two hours after the early vote came in Thursday, Herenton told his supporters in a victory speech the campaign had taught him who his enemies and friends are. Although he vowed "no reprisals," he also said he put a high value on loyalty.

If he follows past practice, there should be some changes among Herenton's division directors at or near the start of his fifth term. There has been some shuffling of directors at the start of each of his four terms.

Those new appointees and those who stay for the fifth term will go for confirmation to a virtually new City Council.

With Thursday's results, only incumbents Myron Lowery, Joe Brown, Barbara Swearengen Ware and Scott McCormick were re-elected.

Seven incumbents decided not to seek re-election, the most turnover in any city election since Memphis went to the mayor-council form of government in the 1967 elections.

Voters decided Thursday to make it a nine-seat change by replacing two council members serving by appointment to fill vacancies - Henry Hooper and Madeleine Cooper Taylor. Hooper fell to radio and television talk show host Janis Fullilove. Taylor finished third in an eight-candidate field.

Because no one received a majority of the votes in council district 3, the top two vote getters, Harold Collins and Ike Griffith, advance to a Nov. 8 runoff. It will be one of four runoffs for district council seats on an unusually crowded ballot.

The forgotten race on the ballot was for City Court Clerk. Incumbent Thomas Long easily won re-election to a fourth term drawing more than 69 percent of the vote over two challengers. But 28,416 fewer people voted in the city-wide race than did in the contest for mayor.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 20 39 190
BUILDING PERMITS 0 305 3,056
BANKRUPTCIES 17 135 753
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 53 329
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0