Last night Strickland won and Memphis won. Getting rid of Wharton should mean getting rid of the network he and Willie Herenton built; a network of increased bureaucracy, favors to friends and lax governance.
If Strickland wants to he can stop the slide Memphis has experienced since Dick Hackett lost in a really close election to Herenton. He needs to roll up his sleeves and get to work fast. First, he needs to address the out of control crime, as he promised. He needs to find ways to stop the exodus of talented young people and taxpayers out of here to Nashville and DeSoto county. He needs to get jobs here. He has indicated he is opposed to increasing the property tax, although he does seek funds for pre-K, a useless exercise in my opinion that has been defeated once. He also needs to stop MLGW from their smart meters madness, but I doubt he’ll do that either as he has come out in favor of them.
Strickland is a savvy politician. He waited for his opportunity to become mayor, eschewing earlier attempts to draft him, when he probably would have lost. The black vote split among Wharton, Collins and Williams. It was a great opportunity and he carried it off. He also had going for him that he represented Midtown on the Council. We are the swing vote in city elections. He did well as City Council District 5 rep and that undoubtedly helped him.
So did his attention to details. If you contacted him about a problem you were experiencing, he would see to it promptly. On two occasions I did just that. He not only helped, but he contacted me later to make sure it was resolved. That’s the kind of stewardship people remember. He came to speak to our Midtown Republican Club twice. That was smart, too.
In his victory speech last night I couldn’t help noticing how many Republicans he thanked for their help. Joy Touliatos, Alan Crohn, David Kustoff, Kim Perry and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell helped him enormously. So did our party. The Shelby GOP endorsed him, even though he is a Democrat. Notice that the Shelby County Democrat party did not endorse anyone in a real profile in courage.
Congratulations to Strickland and to Memphis. We have an opportunity to better our city.
By the way, don’t listen to the pundits. We heard repeatedly that this race would be “tight” or “really close.” Hardly. Strickland beat Wharton in a landslide – 42% to 22%. So much for them.