You don't think the mayor's race is over do you? Oh my dear readers it's just getting started. AC Wharton has won the right to complete the term of former Mayor Herenton. But don't you doubt for one moment that everyone's attention is on 2011. Here's my assessment of five of the mayoral candidates.
AC Wharton - Respected name recognition is like gold in Memphis. AC had it and most people felt correctly that the mayor's seat was his to lose. Strategically AC expressed the concerns of the people with a strong slogan - "One Memphis," gave stright forward answers, and stayed above the hoopla of most of the mayoral forums. The Mayor-elect has roughly eighteen months to show Memphians he has the right stuff. My feeling is AC will do a very good job. He has the respect of most blacks and whites. He thinks before opening his mouth and by all accounts he's an honest person.
AC needs to remember one thing though: It's not about him when they praise, it's not about him when he succeeds, but it's all about him if he fails. People are expecting a great deal from him. He has to produce and produce soon.
Myron Lowery - First off I think Myron would have made a fine mayor. He's smart, analytical and hard working. His strategy was to use the pro tem position to show Memphians that he could be an effective mayor. It was a good strategy; if it had worked everyone would have been calling him a genius. The fact is what kept the brass ring from him was that he was out campaigned.
When Herenton stepped down Myron didn't have a ground team in place to rally his supporters and by the end of the race he still didn't have a solid ground team. Many of the voters who may have voted for him never bothered to show up at the polls. When it came to the voters he focused on "Why they should vote for him," and not "They need to vote for him." There was no motivating need to drive his base to the polls.
Well Myron has time to work on his ground team and even if right now he feels no interest in putting himself through another race for mayor; take it from me, he'll run again.
Carol Chumney - Carol ran hard and I respect grit but there's a time when you have to accept, "They just ain't in to you." If Carol ever had a chance to be the Mayor of Memphis that time has passed.
There's much that she can do to be an asset to the city: sit on boards, take an appointed position, or maybe look at a return to City Council. As far as being mayor, she needs to move on.
Charles Carpenter - Of all the candidates, Charles Carpenter I know the least. Without a strong name recognition Carpenter did the right thing, he advertised himself. There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't see his name or picture. He was everywhere. He presented himself as a very knowledgeable person, confident, and comfortable on the big stage.
Where he fell short were in two areas. The first I gathered from what others said and that was that they were not comfortable with some of the people around Carpenter. They felt he should move more to the center and stay clear of controversial individuals. If this actually affected him negatively I can't personally say but I will point out a concern I had. I'm very big on people paying their dues before seeking public office, especially one as important as mayor. Often people run for office and use their work experience as the bases for their qualification. Well that's how you made a living, what I'm also looking for is your commitment, or as they say when you apply to a college - "Your grades are fine, but what extra-curricular activities have you performed?" I felt Carpenter was lacking in the extra-curricular area.
Maybe it's the community organizer in me, but he needs to roll up his sleeves and come help in the neighborhood. That will go a long way in improving his image.
Wanda Halbert - By no stretch of the imagination could we say Wanda did well in this race. In fact she only received 372 votes. Now you might think that would be the end of my comments on Ms. Halbert, but you would be wrong.
Wanda may not have fared well in winning votes but she impressed a lot of people including me when it came to going toe-to-toe with the big boys. In the debates Wanda had solid answers and even when there was a period that she was not feeling well, like a trooper, she kept on fighting. I have heard several people talking about the need to support more younger, professionals for higher office; Wanda's name almost always comes up.
I would recommend that Wanda spend some time solidifying her position as the "Great Young Hope."
Well that's my opinion, what's yours.