First, the city of Memphis owes Myron Lowery a debt of gratitude for the yeoman service he’s turned in as interim mayor. It’s a hard permanent job, so you know he was challenged by the fact that he would have 90 days or less to accomplish anything. Once he returns to his position on city council, he’ll continue to have an opportunity to serve the people and the city of Memphis. And he was a refreshing change from the effort the former mayor was providing. It seems that Dr. Herenton had lost some interest in the position prior to his retirement.
Now it’s AC Time! The county mayor is a bright, capable man. And one that people had been encouraging to run for public office for years. It seems that was a constant drumbeat when he was public defender. The county mayor’s office doesn’t have quite the same level of responsibility as the city mayor, but many people think that Mr. Wharton acquitted himself in the position well, drawing down the county’s debt while establishing fairly good relationships with the suburban communities in Shelby County.
Of course, now that Mr. Wharton has the final two years of former mayor Herenton’s term to complete, what can he do to turn things around? While many parts of Memphis are thriving, many others are not. The economy, while improving, was not kind to many Memphians, who either lost jobs, homes or both. Downtown continues to be an interesting mix of eclectic residences and businesses and abandoned buildings and shady characters on top of the area’s best-known entertainment district.
There’s also the consolidation question. Mayor (and Mayor-elect) Wharton has long supported the idea of combining the city of Memphis with Shelby County, to streamline services, save money and create efficiencies. That will remain a hard (if not impossible) sell to the other cities inside the county. They are willing to enjoy some level of benefit by being close to Memphis (jobs, transportation, shopping, entertainment, etc.), they do not want to be put in a position of providing additional support to a city they don’t want to be a part of (except for the benefits that already exist).
Once the election is certified, Mr. Wharton can take the oath and get to work. That means that we’ll have to go through a similar process of having an interim county mayor and commission will have to select replacement to finish his term on the other side of the plaza.
And if that’s not enough, we’ve still got the Herenton vs. Cohen race coming up. While some people might not appreciate the point of view expressed by the former mayor and his campaign manager Mr. Chism, the 9th Congressional District of Tennessee kinda was designed to provide a representative who “looked like us.” I don’t know that that’s necessary in this day and age. And Representative Cohen has been doing a fine job, earning the African-American voting support he’s seen so far.
If anything, I’m a little disappointed not to have Herenton in the mayor’s office anymore. I think AC Wharton will be way too competent for me to roll out the Mayor McCheese pic anymore. (sigh)
If that’s the case, I’ll guess we’ll just have to bid the big burger farewell and see what the Wharton era brings.