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VOL. 130 | NO. 133 | Friday, July 10, 2015

Strickland Files for Mayor One Week From Deadline

By Bill Dries

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A week before the filing deadline for candidates on Memphis’ October ballot, city councilman Jim Strickland filed his qualifying petition for mayor and said he has a campaign war chest of approximately $400,000.

One week from the filing deadline for the October Memphis elections, 119 petitions had been pulled by prospective candidates for the 15 offices on the ballot. Of that, 36 had filed to run.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

“This city – Memphis – is more violent, more blighted and more littered than it was a few years ago, and no one at City Hall is being held accountable,” Strickland said Thursday, July 9, after filing at the Shelby County Election Commission office Downtown. “This campaign is all about change.”

Incumbent Mayor A C Wharton Jr. had not filed his petition as of Thursday morning. Nor had declared and actively campaigning mayoral challengers Harold Collins, also a city councilman, and Mike Williams, head of the Memphis Police Association. They would bring the field for mayor to 10, if no one who has filed through Thursday morning drops out.

Strickland commented on the money he’s raised when he was asked for a ballpark estimate of the amount he’ll report having on hand in a campaign finance report due Friday.

“I think most voters are in play,” he said. “The same message resonates in North Memphis, South Memphis and East Memphis, and that is we have to drastically reduce crime, we have to clean up the blight and trash and pave our streets, and we have to set standards for those who are employed at City Hall providing service to the public and then hold those city officials accountable. The vast majority of Memphis knows we are not heading the right direction at City Hall and we need change.”

Wharton has indicated he will mount a vigorous defense of his record in the coming campaign, touting “tough” decisions his administration has made to right the city’s financial condition.

Collins has said his campaign, like Strickland’s, will focus on the need to change the city’s direction, with an emphasis on economic development outside of the Downtown Core and better jobs.

Williams is challenging Wharton specifically on decisions the mayor and his administration have made on crime issues and changes to city employee benefits.

But Williams has said those issues are symptoms of a need to change the city’s larger priorities away from what he contends is a tilt that puts too much emphasis on business development at the expense of building communities.

At the one-week mark, prospective candidates for mayor, City Court Clerk and the 13 Memphis City Council seats had pulled 119 petitions to run, according to the Election Commission list. Some candidates pulled petitions in multiple races.

Of those petitions, 36 had been filed, not counting candidates whose petitions didn’t have the required minimum of 25 signatures from voters who live in the district or area.

Most of the political action, in terms of numbers, has been in the mayoral race, where 20 prospective candidates had petitions circulating or filed one week before the deadline.

If everyone with a petition filed for mayor and stayed in the race, it still wouldn’t match the record number of candidates in the city’s 47-year-old mayor-council form of government.

That distinction goes to the 2009 special election following then-Mayor Willie Herenton’s resignation, when a field of 25, including Wharton, ran for the open mayoral seat.

Among the 13 district and superdistrict races for City Council, the District 4 race has drawn the most interest. At the one-week mark, there were 13 prospective contenders for the seat incumbent Wanda Halbert is giving up to run for City Court Clerk.

Of the 13, two – Andrea Jones and Jamita Swearengen – had filed their petitions.

Eleven prospective contenders are seeking the Super District 9 Position 2 council seat held by interim councilman Alan Crone, appointed following the resignation of councilman Shea Flinn earlier this year. Crone has said he will not run for the seat on the October ballot.

Of the 11 with petitions, four had filed as of Thursday morning: Timothy Cook Sr., Stephanie Gatewood, Lynn S. Moss and Philip Spinosa.

Meanwhile, 10 citizens have petitions out for the open City Court Clerk’s position. Incumbent clerk Thomas Long announced last month he will not seek re-election after 20 years as clerk.

Through Thursday morning, only one contender, William Chism, had filed his petition.

But since Long’s announcement, the race has drawn the interest of three potential candidates with name recognition. Former Juvenile Court Clerk, City Council member and County Commissioner Shep Wilbun, former Circuit Court Judge Kay Robilio and Thomas Long II, the son of the elder Long, pulled petitions for the race in recent weeks.

PROPERTY SALES 64 87 1,429
MORTGAGES 39 60 1,107