‘Get Out Of The Race’ Meetings Underway

Grumblings about too many contenders in the coming special election for Memphis mayor have turned into sit down meetings to talk some of the contenders out of running.

Shelby County Commissioner James Harvey told The Daily News that he met this week with Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. Harvey said he was unimpressed with Wharton’s pitch to get Harvey out of the race. Wharton reportedly had a separate meeting scheduled this week with former Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford Sr.

Harvey said the large number of possible contenders, at least 15, is an indication of dissatisfaction with established black political leaders. Harvey, a first term commissioner, counts himself among political newcomers who are challenging the results and records of leaders like Wharton and outgoing Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.

“We’ll see how it unravels,” he told The Daily News. “Who knows what could happen?”

No filing deadline for candidates or election date has been set by the Shelby County Election Commission. The commission is waiting on the Memphis City Council to approve the minutes of the July 7 council session. At the session, council members approved a resolution declaring the mayor’s office vacant on July 31, in keeping with the later resignation date set by Herenton in June after he initially announced plans to resign on July 10.

Since the council session, Herenton has reaffirmed that he intends to leave office on July 30. The council meets again on July 21.

Under terms of the city charter, the city council chairman — in this case Myron Lowery — becomes mayor pro tempore of the city for three months after the office becomes vacant. And the election is to be scheduled by the city council for 90 days after the office becomes vacant unless there is a regularly scheduled general election within six months of the vacancy. There is no election already scheduled for the six months from the end of July.

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