With an announcement that sent shockwaves through Memphis politics, former Memphis Mayor Dr. Willie W. Herenton announced that he wants the job back in 2019.
Herenton, who served in the role from 1992 until 2009, was the first African American elected mayor of Memphis. He left the mayors office for an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Congress, losing to Steve Cohen in 2010.
Herenton announced his candidacy in rolling appearances Thursday, starting with an appearance on “Live at 9” on WREG Newschannel 3. He explained how he came to his decision during remarks at The LeMoyne-Owen College.
“I looked in the mirror, and I said I can’t speak for anyone else. I can speak for myself,” Herenton told the audience. “I’m going back to City Hall.
“I want you to hear me,” he continued. “There is an unfinished agenda. Dr. King didn’t finish. He was struck down. But Willie Herenton is still standing. Which means I can work on the agenda.
“I got the passion. I got the wisdom. I got the strength,” he said. “We are going to move forward with the dream.”
Herenton quickly followed that he wasn’t criticizing current mayor Jim Strickland, though he didn’t refer to Strickland by name.
“I am not speaking disparagingly of the present leadership,” Herenton said. “I’m simply saying that where we are today in time an space, the plight of the young people is going to require a very different type of leadership.”
Strickland had little to say on the development. “We’re proud of our record.”
Herenton served longer as mayor than anyone else. He made his 2009 resignation announcement at City Hall in the Hall of Mayors and set it up with a reference to the book of Ecclesiastes the third chapter.
“‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.’ There is a season and there is a time.”
TSDMemphis.com is continuing to follow this story. But in the meantime, WDIA livestreamed Herenton’s remarks at LeMoyne-Owen on Facebook. Listen below: