Local elections are often a far different animal than something like a presidential contest. You’re not likely to find the local equivalent of 2008’s tea party fervor or blue signs touting “The Change We Need” in Shelby County anytime soon.
But local races – and really, the entire local political leadership structure – matter a great deal. Many times, the results of those contest matter in a more close-to-home way than does the one for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Remember the pejorative nickname of U.S. 64 – “Herenton Highway” – because of the way the city’s former mayor supposedly drove many homeowners eastward?
Memphis’ top level political leadership has lately joined groups like the Greater Memphis Chamber in scrambling to counter an influx of new businesses and jobs in far-flung Memphis suburbs. Some of the growth especially in Northwest Mississippi boom towns like Olive Branch is coming at Memphis’ expense, with employers leaving the city for the supposedly greener – and cheaper – pastures of Mississippi.
In 2005, then-Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. flew to New York City to meet with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Wharton observed an innovative series of social programs there and laid the groundwork to bring them to Memphis, as described in a story in tomorrow’s Daily News.
Put simply, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes to impact the fortunes of Memphis’ economic development, as this week’s Memphis News cover story shows.
The guys sitting behind the big desk in the top offices at Memphis City Hall and the Shelby County Administration Building have the potential to affect citizens’ daily lives in profoundly personal ways – whether they and we realize it or not.