VOL. 130 | NO. 143 | Friday, July 24, 2015
Strickland's Memphis Mayoral Bid Heats Up
By Bill Dries
Just hours after he dropped out of the race for Memphis Mayor, James Harvey endorsed mayoral contender Jim Strickland at the opening of Strickland’s Poplar Plaza campaign headquarters.
And Harvey, a former Shelby County Commissioner, quickly surveyed the crowd of 200 remarking, “I thought you would show up at my campaign.”
A race that at one point had 20 potential candidates was half that by the time the Shelby County Election Commission met Thursday, July 23, to set the Oct. 8 ballot.
At 10 contenders, the mayoral field is the same size it was in 2011 when incumbent Mayor A C Wharton Jr. won his first, full four-year term.
Wharton is seeking a second term on the October ballot. And he drew the endorsement of county commission chairman Justin Ford, who like Harvey filed for but withdrew from the mayor’s race.
Strickland’s opening drew a mix of Democrats and Republicans in a nonpartisan election season in which there is no primary. The campaigns work through the summer heat into the early fall for a single round of voting, which begins with early voting Sept. 18-29.
Strickland’s storefront, at 109 S. Highland St., is in the same shopping center where in September a mob of teenagers attacked and injured three people in the parking lot. The incident sparked the arrest of 11 juveniles and a civic discussion about youth violence that later merged with the national issue of police violence and accountability.
“Didn’t something happen here about nine months ago that shook up the city?” Strickland said. “That was a real deciding point for me that maybe I ought to seriously look at the mayor’s race. That’s a wake-up call to this city. We have to clean this city up.”
Strickland outlined his “zero tolerance” pledge on violent crime including violent juvenile crime. He said he will seek a partnership for youth programs and a private fund to pay the court costs for ex-felons to have their criminal records expunged.
Wharton is expected to open his campaign headquarters soon, and challenger and council member Harold Collins is anticipating an August opening for his camp.
All three are campaigning door-to-door on the weekends and organizing gatherings that build support with specific voter groups. Wharton, for example, drew several hundred pastors and clergy to a prayer breakfast July 18.
On the council side of the ballot, the largest field among the 13 races is the nine contenders for District 7 where appointed incumbent Berlin Boyd is seeking a full, four-year term.
Each of the six other council incumbents seeking re-election in October also face opposition.
District 1’s Bill Morrison has a single challenger in Wayne Roberts for the ballot’s smallest field.
The election commission rejected appeals from mayoral contender James Clingan and city council contender Joe Cooper to be included on the ballot.
Clingan said he turned in his petition at the July 16 filing deadline hurriedly, and without enough signatures, because the commission originally listed the deadline as July 17 on its website.
Cooper wanted more time to turn in his petition to get a Circuit Court hearing on the restoration of his citizenship rights. Cooper lost his rights to vote and run for office following his 2007 conviction on federal money laundering charges.
The election commission voted to list City Court Clerk candidate Thomas Long as Thomas Long II. He is the son of incumbent City Court Clerk Thomas Long who is not seeking re-election.