Let's be optimistic. The new city council may turn out to be ideally balanced between Memphis' disparate races, social groups, and special interests.
Among the outright winners last Thursday night were:
District 4: Wanda Halbert, an African American and a seasoned school board member whose inner-city concerns will be balanced with knowledge of mainstream issues;
District 5: Jim Strickland, a lawyer whose whopping 73 percent total over five opponents gave some indication of the widespread appeal enjoyed by this white former Democratic chairman (whose law partner is U.S. attorney David Kustoff, a former GOP chairman).
District 7: Barbara Swearengen Holt-Ware, a black veteran and firm ally of Mayor Willie Herenton who easily turned aside an energetic challenge from four opponents.
Super District 8, Position 1: Whether he's profiting from the cachet of the former Criminal Court judge and current TV jurist who has the same name as himself or, alternatively, is just well liked for his stout attention to inner-city neighborhood concerns, Joe Brown made it back easily over two opponents.
Super District 8, Position 2: More moderate than her reputation in some quarters, Janis Fullilove has been a fixture on the airwaves for almost two decades, and her name ID by itself was enough to overpower seven well-qualified opponents, including interim incumbent Henry Hooper.
Super District 8, Position 3: Myron Lowery, a
hard-working fixture on the council for a generation and a pillar of both
mainstream and minority concerns, had no problem with his two opponents.
Super District 9, Position 1: Scott McCormick, the likely new chairman, outpolled all other council candidates and prevailed easily in a battle in which his ex-military opponent made few public appearances.
Super District 9, Position 2: Shea Flinn,
Democratic son of a Republican county commissioner, outpointed runner-up Kemp
Conrad, who had GOP support, thanks to his big-bucks campaign, his own
appeal, and an impressive run from "Memphis Watchdog" Joe Saino, who
harvested liberally from Conrad's conservative base.
Super District 9, Position 3: The winner here was developer Reid Hedgepeth, whose campaign spent bigtime and had so many yard signs that Hedgepeth's campaign manager, retiring councilman Jack Sammons, wryly suggested recycling some of them at a late fundraiser.
Though he may have lost some votes to challenger Lester Lit, Hedgepeth saw his main competitor, lawyer Desi Franklin, sharing enough crucial votes with fellow Democrat Mary Wilder to have to settle for runner-up status.
Still to be determined:
There will be runoffs on November 8 in four district races.
District 1: School board member Stefanie Gatewood, an M.O.R. black, vies with teacher Bill Morrison in a northern-suburb district whose demographics now tilt African American. Educators won't lose either way.
District 2: The survivors from a multi-candidate field in this eastern-edge district are, as expected, former assessor and veteran civic figure Bill Boyd and hard-charging well-supported lawyer Brian Stephens, who had the early head start. A tossup.
District 3: Though still youthful, Harold Collins is a veteran of public service and has much influential support, while teacher Ike Griffith has some grass-roots strength of his own. Collins is considered the favorite.
District 6: Another teacher, Edmund Ford Jr., now a graduate student, had a sizeable election-day lead over runner-up James O. Catchings, himself a well-known educator. It remains to be seen whether the current legal predicament of Ford pere, who is leaving the seat, will be a help or a hindrance in the runoff.
The trio compared notes on the campaign and discussed
issues, agreeing that crime control would be the dominant issue for the newly
Hedgepeth, a 30-year-old developer and political newcomer, took criticism during the campaign for avoiding all the scheduled candidate forums. He acknowledged he had relied heavily on the advice of Sammons and co-campaign manager Nathan Green. But he quipped, "I'll be at all the forums from now on!"
Those, he was
reminded, will be scheduled on Tuesday at regular two-week intervals.