Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton kicked off his campaign for Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District seat saying his main reason for running is to diversify the state’s all-white congressional delegation. Herenton was the mayor of Memphis for 18 years. Herenton speaking for more than 20 minutes to hundreds of Memphians holding red, white and blue ‘Herenton For Congress’ signs. His challenger is Dem. U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen who became the city’s first white member of Congress in more than three decades when he was elected in 2006. “Every opportunity that African Americans can get to serve as leaders, we ought to go after,” Herenton said during his speech. “They’ve got 11 members, we just want one.”

Herenton, the city’s first black mayor, has a huge number of followers. He highlighted his years of service as mayor saying Memphis is better because of him. Despite the corruption investigations of Herenton, questioned about payments Herenton received while mayor from a land deal, parties financed by political supporters and Herenton’s baby mama drama with Claudine Marsh, he greeted supporters as he kicked off his 9th District Congressional campaign saying, “We will win this election.” Herenton didn’t outline a policy platform but instead told the crowd that he would help Congress understand the needs of ordinary people. Herenton spoke about the three Memphis Animal Shelter employees, including former shelter director Ernest Alexander that has been indicted on state animal cruelty charges. Alexander was one of Herenton appointee as mayor. Herenton stated that, “This so called justice system of ours – they are about to send three black people to jail about some dogs, But we’ve got a white man involved in Beale Street that a forensic analysis has revealed six million dollars is missing – six million dollars of your money is missing.” This statement was referring to Beale Street developer John Elkington. Herenton spoke about former Shelby County mayor Jim Rout’s business dealings were investigated differently than his, saying that, criminal intent was a crime for black folk, but it ain’t for white folk.

Herenton, who has a doctorate in education, was superintendent of the Memphis City Schools for 12 years before he turned to politics. In 1991, his first run for mayor, he was elected mayor of Memphis winning by 142 votes out of nearly 248,000 ballots cast, against the incumbent, Richard C. Hackett. He was re-elected with large majorities in 1995 and 2003 and defeated a crowded field which included Joe Ford, a member of Memphis’s once powerful political family. He set a record in January 2009 when he was sworn in for a fifth four-year term before his resignation.

Would you support W. W. Herenton in his bid for Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District seat?

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