With just over 3 weeks to the filing deadline for city elections, candidates are starting to come out of the woodworks to drum up support for their campaigns. As of this writing, two of the 3 frontrunners, Herman Morris and Carol Chumney have filed petitions, the third, Mayor Herenton, has yet to file, but he could any day now. These three “frontrunners” and what will likely be a crowded field of up and comers, have a big job ahead of them, making their vision for the city known to the public at large.
Memphis has a lot of challenges facing it right now; violent crime is out of control, poverty is pervasive in many areas of the city, and our schools, while improving, still leave a lot to be desired. All three of these issues are tightly intertwined, and have, in some cases, spanned generations. In order to make any visible progress, we need to come together, as a community and work to solve these problems, but we also need someone who has the vision to both unify and lead us with a comprehensive plan of attack.
I know it’s early, and the candidates are just now getting their organizations together, but it is critical that those who would be our city leaders effectively communicate their vision to their constituents so that we, the people of Memphis, can make an educated choice in the future leadership of this city. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out that way.
Already, there is an effort to make this election the citywide equivalent of a High School class president’s race. Mayor Herenton’s press conference of two weeks ago, alleging a “conspiracy” to impugn his name by ensnaring him in a sex scandal, was laced with racial overtones and wild accusations. That’s not to say that some of the allegations may not be true, but Herenton’s attempt to stir up racial divisions is not what I would call “visionary” leadership.
In truth, it seems like every time the Mayor opens his mouth he’s stirring up divisions. Several months ago he called Mayoral candidate Herman Morris “boy”. I can only imagine some of the names he’ll come up for the other Mayoral candidates.
How long of a shadow will this, and some of the other scandals facing the city, cast on the upcoming election? Who knows, but it’s our duty, as responsible citizens, to cut through some of the crap and demand leadership from those who would be our leaders.
It’s time to start taking seriously about our city folks. Regardless of whom you support for City Council or the Mayor’s office, we need to demand that our elected officials address the needs of this city quickly, forthrightly, and completely. Until we demand better, our leaders will just keep feeding us the same old meal. I’m getting hungry for something else.