Seven months ago Tami Sawyer launched a Memphis mayoral campaign that championed the slogan “We Can’t Wait” and with some it caught fire – but not nearly enough for the first-term Shelby County Board of Commissioners member to get anywhere close to victory.
Set in the creative stylings of The Complex, located in the Lamar Shopping Center, a multi-racial collection of young and old supporters chatted and listened to music during Sawyer’s Election Night Watch Party on Thursday. Absent was the jubilation so pervasive the night of Sawyer’s landslide victory in the District county commission race.
Although subdued, the gathering was still optimistic.
Sawyer walked into her campaign headquarters about 8 p.m. and was met with cheering and sustained applause.
When the votes were in and concession inevitable, the diverse collection of Sawyer enthusiasts were undaunted. Sawyer expressed the sentiments of one who had lost a battle, but not yet the war.
“I’m going to keep fighting every day for the things we were fighting for in this campaign,” she said. “I am no longer a candidate for mayor, but I am still a county commissioner. And although I have only one vote out of 13, it is still a very powerful vote with each of you behind me.
“…Four years from now, let’s show up in record numbers, and let’s force people to debate…Let’s continue to fight against inequity, racism, homophobic, class-ism, anti-immigrant, anti-women, gender inequality,” she said. “Yes, we will keep fighting…”
That was welcome news to Audrey May, a campaign volunteer.
“Tami has a clear vision, and she is well-organized,” said May. “She can see how issues are interconnected. Behind her vision, a community came together. This campaign is bigger than Tami, She inspires vision in us, and she has made us believe that together, we can create a better Memphis.
“When those negative things were brought out, it was because someone was very afraid of her ability to organize and bring people together. We still believe in Tami. We still believe in the vision.”
Strickland garnered 62 percent of the vote with 59,886. Second place was former Mayor Dr. Willie W. Herenton with nearly 29 percent of the vote, 27,694. Sawyer was third with almost seven percent of the vote, 6,666.
Althena Palmer, Sawyer’s campaign manager, was proud of the race they had run.
“We ran on an equity agenda. We wanted to do the most good for the most people. And many people were responsive to our platform. As you can see from this gathering tonight, our message resonated with so many.”
Sawyer thanked her committed team of volunteers.
“I am so proud of the job we did. We learned together, and we grew together. We didn’t quit, no matter what. We saw this campaign through to the end,” she said.
“We can walk away knowing that we made the issues that matter to us loud. We brought all the other races into our conversation. We made the issues important.”