Tag Archives: mayors

New Memphis mayor hires TV, newspaper staffers

Commercial Appeal political reporter Kyle Veazey announced Monday he’s leaving the newspaper staff, effective immediately, for a position in Mayor-elect Jim Strickland’s administration, according to the newspaper.

Veazey will join former WMC-TV anchor Ursula Madden in Strickland’s communications office.

Veazey, 33, had been at the CA since 2011, first as a sports reporter and columnist, more recently as the lead reporter on the newspaper’s political team. His popular digital-only column, First Word, has been suspended.

Strickland, who defeated incumbent Mayor A C Wharton in October, takes office January 1.

Note: From the Memphis Flyer: Strickland was asked to comment on the perception that hiring Veazey raised questions about Veazey’s objectivity during the mayoral election.

Here’s what Strickland said:

“The only thing I could comment is…my wife, last night when I told her about this hire, she said, ‘Well I didn’t really like what (Veazey) wrote about you.’

“So, you know, I’ll let anybody come to their own conclusions about what they see. I thought all the media – print and TV – was fair during the campaign.”

Knoxville mayor Rogero bashes former mayor Ashe

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero has harshly criticized former Mayor Victor Ashe, who recently criticized her administration’s handling of a local greenway project, reports the News Sentinel.

In his column, Ashe, who served as mayor from 1987-2003 and later as U.S. ambassador to Poland, criticized handling of the greenway from the Buck Karnes Bridge on Alcoa Highway to the Naval Reserve Center. He wrote “delay, postponement, excuses and process” have been Goerlich’s greenway “watchwords.” (Note: the column is HERE.)

“Despite being on the job for almost four years, she has little to show for it,” Ashe wrote. “Rogero, who calls herself a ‘green mayor,’ runs the risk of becoming the ‘red clay mayor’ if Goerlich continues her snail’s pace.”

Rogero called that column the latest in a string of personal attacks by Ashe.

“It is one thing for you to criticize me or my senior staff — we get paid to make the decisions and take the heat,” Rogero wrote. “It is something else entirely for you to so nastily and unfairly single out a hard-working junior staff member.”

In the email, Rogero maintained Ashe’s “abuse” of city staffers — particularly women — is part of a pattern that she called “profoundly unfair” and “the classic tactics of a bully.”

She also took issue with the volume of questions Ashe has asked the city to answer for his “weekly gossip column” in the Shopper, writing that, although Ashe rarely uses the information the city provides, he has “taken up more time and occupied more city resources — by far — than any other member of the local media.

…Ashe said Saturday he wouldn’t comment on the email other than to reiterate “the issue of greenways is important, and I hope that the pace of their construction is accelerated.”

See also Knoxviews, which posts Rogero’s full letter and has a substantial number of comments, most agreeing with Rogero.

Total Nashville mayor’s race spending: $16.8M

A total of almost $17 million was spent in the recently-completed Nashville mayoral race, according to a review of final disclosures by the Tennessean. Almost half the money was from the wealthy candidates themselves.

Final campaign finance numbers from Nashville’s 2015 mayor’s race — won in September by Megan Barry — are now clear after the release this month of third quarter financial disclosures from all seven candidates and two Super PACs that were active in the race.

Candidates and Super PACs accounted for $16,820,277 in spending — a figure that crushed spending from Nashville’s last open mayor’s race in 2007, as well as this month’s mayoral election in Memphis won by Jim Strickland. The majority of overall spending, which covers activity in both the general and runoff elections, went toward television advertising.

Bill Freeman’s mayoral campaign spent $5,056,479 over the entire mayoral race, by far the most of any candidate… Freeman, a wealthy real estate executive and Democratic fundraiser who finished a close third behind Barry and David Fox in the August election, put in $3,828,899 in personal money toward his campaign overall, also the most among any candidates.

Candidates cumulatively pumped in $8,229,556 in personal self-funding in this year’s mayoral race, according to a tally of all financial reports…Nashville’s mayoral race attracted $7,725,395 in contributions from individual donors. In comparison the recently concluded mayor’s race in Memphis generated more than $1,700,000 in campaign fundraising — although that number will rise after candidates there submit one more round of campaign finance disclosures.

Postmortem reports on the demise of A C Wharton as Memphis mayor

From the CA’s Kyle Veazey, under the headline ‘In humiliating loss, Wharton only has self to blame’:

A C Wharton’s long-successful electoral career came to a humiliating end Thursday night, the victim of fumbles and too little follow-through, of half-measures and hubris, to a candidate who connected with an undercurrent he couldn’t touch.

This didn’t happen overnight.

No, don’t blame this loss on the Deidre Malone contract. Don’t hang it on the Robert Lipscomb scandal. The past couple of months weren’t kind to the veteran mayor, but it’s not as though the past few years were, either.

The city benefit cuts were one thing, but the execution of them kept them alive, made people angrier. The animal shelter. The so-so economy. Potholes and problems, over and over.

And everyone’s seen the cranes in Nashville, seen the resurgence so many other cities are enjoying, and wondering why they weren’t seeing enough of it here.

Memphians wanted change, and in Jim Strickland, they got a candidate — and a campaign — that spoke to that desire. When the city’s political establishment — and a good chunk of its business establishment — rallied around the incumbent, Strickland found a connection to voters that the establishment didn’t grasp.

Excerpt from Jackson Baker’s election report:

Make no mistake: This was as much a Strickland victory as a Wharton loss. When Strickland, just before his celebration party at the Botanic Gardens was breaking up, said matter-of-factly, “We ran a perfect campaign,” he wasn’t blowing smoke. He and ace strategist Steven Reid stuck very carefully to a game plan — focusing ad infinitum on three key points: public safety, blight, and accountability.

Those were not grand visionary goals. They were simply reassurances that a city administration that had begun to seem rudderless would see order restored under new management. This was, as it turned out, enough, particularly when a series of badly handled mayoral snafus — the Robert Lipscomb firing and the Deidre Malone contract brouhaha notable among them — gave volume to that third point, “accountability,” in Strickland’s triad of issues.

So Strickland is right to feel justified — even a tad smug — in his recollections of a well-run campaign. His 42 percent of the total, compared to the defeated incumbent’s astonishing low total of 22 percent, was impressive indeed — especially for a white candidate running to lead an electorate that is two-thirds African-American.

But the fact is that the votes garnered by third and fourth-place finishers Harold Collins, Strickland’s Council mate, and Memphis Police Association president Mike Williams added up to a full third of the total vote — 18 and 16 percent, respectively. Had either one of these candidates not been on the ballot, the other might have proved stout competition for the lead.

Strickland unseats Wharton as Memphis mayor

Voters in majority-black Memphis on Thursday elected the city’s first white mayor in 24 years as City Councilman Jim Strickland’s message of change propelled him over incumbent A C Wharton, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Complete but unofficial returns showed Strickland took 42 percent of the vote to Wharton’s 22 percent. Harold Collins captured 18 percent and Mike Williams had 16 percent. Six other candidates stood at less than 1 percent each. There is no runoff in the mayor’s race.

Strickland was the only white contender among the four major candidates.

It was a rare victory for a challenger against an incumbent — the most recent was Willie Herenton’s historic 1991 win over Dick Hackett — and the first time a council member will move into the city’s top job since 1972.

“Today the people of Memphis spoke loudly and clearly. You want a new direction for this city,” Strickland told a crowd at the Memphis Botanic Garden. “Today, the people of Memphis — you — said we want change.”

Wharton conceded to Strickland in an upbeat concession speech to supporters.

“This is Memphis, Tennessee, known for its graciousness and its hospitality. And I’ve tried to epitomize that throughout all my public service and nothing is going to change,” Wharton said. “That’s just the way I roll.”

Rep. Mike Harrison resigning to lead county mayors group

State Rep. Mike Harrison, who chairs one of the Legislature’s most powerful panels, is resigning from the Legislature to become executive director of the County Mayors Association of Tennessee.

Harrison, R-Rogersville, will be succeeded as head of the House Finance Subcommittee, which rules on all legislation involving taxation or spending of state dollars, by Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, who is now serving as House Speaker Pro Tempore.

The change was announced by House Speaker Beth Harwell, who said Johnson will hold the position through next year on an “interim” basis, whereupon “new, permanent committee assignments” will be made for the 110th General Assembly.

At the mayors association, Harrison will succeed Fred Congdon, a former Unicoi County mayor who has held the executive director position since 1990. Congdon’s retirement will be effective Dec. 31 and Harrison taking the post on Jan. 1.

Harrison’s resignation will trigger a special election to fill the vacancy in the House District 9 seat, which covers Hawkins and Hancock counties.
Continue reading

Mayor accused of sex calls on city phone

La Vergne Mayor Dennis Waldron says an allegations that he used a city-funded cellphone to callsex-related or escort-service phone numbers is just another effort to undermine his administration, according to the Daily News Journal.

“It’s like the paparazzi,” Waldron said. “For over 10 months, people loyal to the previous administration have been stalking me. They’re accusing me of being places I haven’t been and being with people I have not been with.

When Waldron was asked by The Daily News Journal if he had made calls to sex-related or escort-service phone numbers on his city-issued cell phone,.his answer came quickly.

“I’m not going to say I didn’t,” said Waldron. “I’m not going to say I did.”

If he did, Waldron said, it was by error, or he was making a return call to an incoming one that he missed, not realizing what the number was.

Whether he did or didn’t make the calls — or someone else made the calls — on a city-issued phone, Waldron said he knows it will never happen again.

“I have decided for safety and the best interest of all to turn my city phone into the city and purchase my private phone. No one will have access to it,” he said.

The accusations came about recently in other media (Note: See, for example, WKRN TV), relying on phone records provided by La Vergne after a public records request. The city also provided the same records to The DNJ, and calls made to the suspect numbers were either unanswered or disconnected.

“I’m not accusing any one person,” Waldron said about what he described as stalking. “But every time they do this, they put it on Facebook. Not one time have I talked negative about the previous administration on Facebook, but I can’t say vice versa.”

New mystery PACs enter Memphis mayor’s race

Little has been made public about two new PACS trying to influence the Memphis election, reports the Commercial Appeal. One is called Neighborhood Alliance PAC and has at least filed a campaign disclosure.

The other, called Citizens for a Brighter Memphis, hasn’t done that much, but hit mailboxes in recent days with as many as three mail pieces attacking mayoral candidate Jim Strickland.

It prompted a pointed response from Strickland as a contentious mayor’s race traveled down a new road: deciphering the origins of outside money.

Third-party groups’ spending would be in addition to what’s already believed to be a record-breaking amount of money in this year’s mayor’s race — nearly $1.6 million raised just for the Strickland and Mayor A C Wharton campaigns alone.

Citizens for a Brighter Memphis’ mail pieces claim Strickland cut school funding and that he would “weaken our police force.” One mailer urges recipients to vote for Wharton.

…No group called Citizens for a Brighter Memphis is registered with the Shelby County Election Commission or the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance. The only known pro-Wharton political action committee is Memphis First PAC, which had not filed a disclosure as of Friday afternoon.

…Meanwhile, Neighborhood Alliance PAC’s Thursday financial disclosure with the Shelby County Election Commission still doesn’t tell much about who is behind that group, but it does show it’s well-financed.

The political action committee reported $113,000 in receipts and $95,355 in spending on the election in September, leaving $17,645 to spend in the week before the race. The group formally disclosed in the filing that its expenses are in opposition to Wharton.

Wharton leads Memphis mayor money race

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton’s re-election campaign raised $412,260 in the financial reporting period that loosely mirrored the third quarter of the year while his leading fundraising opponent, City Council member Jim Strickland, raised $177,610.

Further from the Commercial Appeal:

Counting the nearly identical campaign balances Strickland and Wharton had at the midpoint of last year ($117,304 for Strickland; $115,786 for Wharton), that brings the total fundraising to almost $1.6 million for just those two candidates.

Wharton’s total is $947,892; Strickland’s is $622,285.

The two men are engaged in a fierce — and expensive — battle waged on fronts such as television ads, radio spots, consultants and poll workers. Strickland and Wharton reported spending slightly more than $1 million combined ($619,160 by Wharton; $422,553 for Strickland) in the reporting period, which ran from July 1 to Sept. 28.

A disclosure for a third high-profile candidate, Harold Collins, was not posted at the Shelby County Election Commission’s website as of the close of business Thursday. In late August, Collins said his campaign raised about $175,000.

Memphis Police Association president Mike Williams reported raising $37,661 as of Sept. 21, bringing his fundraising total to $43,864. But Williams filed in advance of an email to candidates from the Election Commission that changed the reporting period to end on Sept. 28, not a week earlier. Reports were due Thursday.

Rogero coasts to new term as Knoxville mayor

Mayor Madeline Rogero and most other incumbent city officials easily won new terms in Knoxville’s city elections Tuesday, reports the News Sentinel.

The only City Council seat left to be decided pits small-business owner Pete Bonovich against incumbent Finbarr Saunders in November.

“This campaign was a lot easier this time around,” Rogero said on stage at The Standard following her victory. “I think because of the outstanding success of our first term.”

Rogero had 3,711 votes, according to unofficial returns, versus 46 for write-in candidate Jack Knoxville. (Note: All election results HERE.)

Both (council) candidates lamented the historically low turnout that continued Tuesday, with just 4,748 votes cast in a city with roughly 105,000 registered voters. Knox County Election Commissioner Cliff Rodgers said he was expecting between 4,000 and 5,000 voters. About 2,000 cast their ballots during early voting.

n n