Monday, July 16, 2007

Wharton is NOT RUNNING for City Mayor

Courtesy of FOX13, here is Mayor Wharton's statement:

I am grateful for the outpouring of support that I have received since last week's announcement of the Draft A C movement. I had said previously that I had no interest in running for the mayor of Memphis, but because of the hundreds and hundreds of e-mails, phone calls, and faxes that I received from citizens in every corner of my city, I felt that l owed it to them to revisit my decision and to weigh once again all the factors involved it.

Some of these factors included family considerations, timing, and the impact on the community, but in the end, there was one factor that I simply could not ignore - I am in the right job at the right time to help Memphis themost.

The county mayor is the highest elected office in our region,representing the hopes and dreams of 912,000 people. Shelby County Government is one of the largest local governments in the entire country, and it is in the role as its mayor that I can have the most profound and lasting impact on Memphis.

It has not been a year since I was elected to my second term as county mayor, and critical items remain on my agenda to be completed - notably school funding, a healthier community, the stability of The Med, an agenda for a sustainable county, and more.

Each one of these is important to Memphis, but when taken together, they will be crucial in determining its direction for the future. In the past week, in the messages from so many of my fellow citizens -messages re-enforced by the poll by The Commercial Appeal Sunday- it is clear that a majority of Memphians are concerned about their city's direction and are looking for new hope for the future.

It is a message that I take to heart as I continue to work on the important issues of Memphis. There are many national urban experts who say that we cannot stop Memphis from a decline that relegates it to being a third-tier city, uncompetitive in the global economy and with problems that drive people from its borders.

But there is a reservoir of leadership at the grassroots level waiting to be tapped and that can make the difference in our vision for the future. I was reminded of the depths of this leadership in the past week, and it's why I hope every elected official will join me in finding ways for these citizens to control their own lives and their own destiny.

That is what I am doing every day as county mayor.

The competitive units in the global economy are not cities. They are regions. That is why I believe that operating on a regional canvas as county mayor, I have much more influence over the issues that really matter to Memphis.

Already, we have defied predictions of bankruptcy and put county government back on a sound financial footing. We have transformed its ethical standards, we have developed the region's first smart growth policies and we are now writing the first smart code, we developed new ways to address the serious funding problems of our schools, we are eliminating city-county duplication, we have kept the doors of The Med open and we making sure they are always open to those in need, we have developed the first "green" programs, and we have done so much more.

Perhaps, it is the nature of county government that it operates quietly and often below the radar. But that fact of life makes it no less important. While city governments spend most of their time focused on delivering services, county governments are able to look at the big picture, to develop policies and programs on emerging key issues that will set the direction of Memphis and the region, and to address the kinds of problems that have no respect for governmental boundaries.

More than 80 percent of my time every day is spent working on issues affecting the people of Memphis- health care, justice and safety, land use, codes enforcement, neighborhood revitalization, tax fairness, and education funding.

The answers to the challenges of Memphis cannot be solved within the borders of our city. Rather, they demand regional commitment to regional solutions with regional results.

As county mayor, that's my pledge, and it has been my personal mission every day for five years.

There is no reason that Memphis should seem at war with the rest of the region. After all, we are all in this together.

However, before we can seek to make peace with others in the region,we need to make peace here at home. We need to turn down the rhetoric that demoralizes our people, we need to eliminate the personal attacks that demean our political process, and we need to reject the kinds of comments and behavior that produce negative national news coverage about our city.

The future of Memphis and the region are inextricably linked, and strengthened at our core, we can then create the alliances between governments that give us our best chances of dealing with issues like transportation, air and water quality, business recruitment, and quality of life.

Any one of these is reason enough for me to stay in the county mayor's office. Together, they are a mandate for me to remain where I can lead the innovative problem-solving that is needed if Memphis is to have a bright future.

The stakes are simply too high right now for me to do otherwise.

While the potential of running for city mayor is intriguing, I am certainthat my lifetime of public service has brought me to the right place to make the most important difference in the life of my city.

That is why I intend to remain as county mayor, where I will work tocreate the hope, the spirit, and the confidence that we need if we are to succeed as a community.

1 comment:

Mr Turnbow said...

Well shoot there goes my Jim Kyle for Shelby County Mayor theory...lol.