Tapioca It Is!

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Last night the city of Memphis elected its second African American mayor in the city’s history. Former Shelby County mayor and the first African American to hold that position, A.C. Wharton, Jr., won in a landslide. After Willie Herenton, the city’s first African American mayor, decided to step aside for good, AC Wharton will complete the remainder of Herenton’s term, which expires in 2011. (Technically, Memphis has had three African American mayors–two of which were elected, Herenton and now Wharton. After Herenton resigned earlier this year, city councilman Myron Lowery assumed responsibilities).

Although Wharton received roughly 60 percent of the vote, only 25 percent of registered Memphians turned out in an election that often resembled a high school contest for homecoming court. Many names, many characters, and many citizens left uninspired. Memphis is struggling for its future, for its identity. The city is divided along racial, economic, and educational lines. Now, of Wharton’s challenges, perhaps the biggest one is trying to engage more than 25 percent of Memphians—how he goes about turning his campaign slogan, “One Memphis,” into political reality is instrumental to any improvement.

Wendi C. Thomas of The Commercial Appeal likened Wharton to tapioca. “You know, tapioca isn’t that bad. That’s a good thing, because with the results of Thursday’s election, tapioca is what we got in the new Memphis mayor. The bland and safe Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton sailed to a predictable victory in a race that included 24 other opponents…Perhaps he’ll be tapioca — easy on our spirits, but with a cherry on top—a welcome surprise of assertive, yet palatable, governing.”

After addressing the malaise that has gripped the city so tightly, reaching the other 75 percent, then Wharton must focus on the city’s and county’s consolidation effort. If there is anything we have learned about Memphis politics–that is to expect, well, let’s wait and see…


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