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VOL. 8 | NO. 33 | Saturday, August 8, 2015

Wharton Calls Challengers "Thermometer People"

By Bill Dries

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Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. continues to respond more aggressively to criticism from his challengers in the October mayoral election.

At the opening of his East Memphis campaign headquarters Saturday, Aug. 8, Wharton referred to them as “thermometer people.”

“There are the thermometer people who all they do is they tell you what the temperature is. We have some thermometer people running for office. All they do is they run around and tell you how hot it is or how cold it is,” Wharton told a crowd of more than 100 supporters at the headquarters at 2881 Poplar Ave. “I want to be a thermostat person. You know what a thermostat does? When it gets too hot, the thermostat regulates the A.C. It makes it cooler. … You want someone who’s going to say, ‘It’s hot and I’m going to do something about it.’”

Wharton didn’t call out specific rivals, just as he avoided doing a week ago at the opening of his Whitehaven campaign headquarters.

But before his remarks, former Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter made it clear city council members Jim Strickland and Harold Collins were among the intended targets.

Carpenter talked about his work in the administration specifically in dealing with the council.

“I also know his major opponents and how a legislative body should work and should relate to its chief executive,” Carpenter said, adding that Wharton is an alternative to “opportunism,” “blind ambition” and “stump speech soundbites.”

“Unknown change for the sake of change versus building on the documented and already visible progress of the last six years,” he added. “For the future of the city, the future of my children, change is not an option for me. It is not a choice.”

Wharton rallied his supporters ahead of Monday’s first television debate of the campaign season by Action News 5 at the National Civil Rights Museum, a week after Strickland began running television ads and a week before Collins opens his Whitehaven campaign headquarters.

Earlier in the week, Wharton spoke at the funeral of slain Memphis police officer Sean Bolton as several police officers walked out during his remarks. They returned to the sanctuary at Bellevue Baptist Church after his remarks.

Wharton said later that the reaction was part of the job of being mayor. During Saturday’s speech he waded into the controversy over Bolton’s death and the fatal shooting two weeks earlier of Darrius Stewart by a Memphis police officer that is being investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

“You’ve heard people say, ‘Black lives matter.’ And there are some that have said, ‘White lives matter.’ But (police director) Toney Armstrong said it best – all lives matter,” Wharton told a cheering crowd. “I know the columnists are writing about x percentage of the black vote, y percentage of the white vote. … You know what I say? Just like all lives matter. Folks tell me all votes matter.”

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