VOL. 129 | NO. 225 | Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Wharton Begins Re-Election Fundraising
By Bill Dries
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. told a group of supporters Monday, Nov. 17, at his first re-election fundraiser that he is running to win and in the race for a second full term to stay.
Wharton estimated he drew a group of 300 supporters to the fundraiser at the Memphis Botanic Gardens with some leaving early to attend a Grizzlies basketball game Downtown.
“It will be a campaign based not on personalities or anything divisive,” Wharton said later. “You will never find me seeking to win by dividing. … That’s just not who I am. There is enough progress, enough hope in this city, enough of a vision – if we run on that which is what I’m going to do, we’ll win.”
Wharton is seeking a second full four-year term as mayor, which – if he wins -- would make him the first mayor to hit the city’s recently added two-term limit for the mayor and council members. He was first elected Memphis Mayor in October 2009 following the resignation of Willie Herenton and ran for a full term in 2011. Before that he was elected to two terms as Shelby County Mayor starting in 2002.
Wharton acknowledged after the fundraiser that he faces some criticism for his leadership style as well as his position on changing employee health insurance and pension benefits as he seeks to right the city’s financial condition.
“The rough times we are going through now – someone had to do this,” he said.
Wharton specifically said he has no regrets about not responding to criticism among some Memphis City Council members of his handling of city finances as well as the city’s crime problem.
The fundraisers by Wharton and several council members are a way of gauging support as well as discouraging competitors early in the city campaign season.
Candidates in the Oct. 8, 2015 Memphis elections cannot begin pulling qualifying petitions until April 17.
City Council chairman Jim Strickland has also held a fundraiser in recent weeks. Strickland has said he intends to seek another term on the council. But earlier he had expressed interest in running for mayor. In recent weeks he has been sharply critical of Wharton for the administration’s response to violent crime.
Fellow council member Harold Collins is conducting an exploratory campaign to decide if he should run for mayor or seek re-election.
Other possible mayoral contenders include Memphis Police Association president Mike Williams and former council member and state representative Carol Chumney.