Thursday, April 4, 2002

FIELDS TO TAKE ON JOHN FORD

FIELDS TO TAKE ON JOHN FORD

Posted By on Thu, Apr 4, 2002 at 4:00 AM

“It’ll be the most interesting political race of the season,” says lawyer Richard Fields, and he may have something there. There are some bigtime races going on both locally and statewide, but the principals are, for the most part, conventional sorts.

There’s nothing conventional, though, about Fields, a prominent civil rights attorney for several decades, and there’s certainly nothing conventional about his chosen quarry in this year's Democratic primary, State Senator John Ford.

Fields has other reasons for challenging the powerful state senator in District 29 than to generate interest, of course. He regards Ford as “an embarrassment to Memphis and the state of Tennessee.”

Says Fields, “The thing that really did it was his vote on the Senate Finance committee against the tobacco tax a couple of weeks ago. That killed a bill that would have raised $160 million, strictly for education. How could you vote for tobacco and against education?"

Fields cites also Ford’s controversial role as a Day Care proprietor and as a figure in the industry scandals that brought about corrective legislation (legislation that faces various ex post facto perils and obstructions even now). “He was just horrendous, he was right in the middle of it [the scandal], and in my estimation was the cause of it,” Fields says.

There are other issues Fields intends to raise against Ford, including the way in which he believes the senator pulled strings and twisted arms to get himself appointed to the Public Building Authority, but one case he’ll make has to do with the simple fact of residence.

“He doesn’t live n the district, and he doesn’t know what’s going on in his district,” Fields says. “As far as we know, he lives in Collierville.” Fields himself lives downtown, “square in the middle of the 29th District.” And he thinks his familiarity with the district’s concerns, as well as his record of civil rights litigation, will stand him in good stead with the district’s majority-black population.

The California native, whose treasurer is Sidney Chism, won’t be the only opponent for Ford, who, like Fields, filed with the Election Commission on Wednesday (thereby gainsaying some recent musing out loud about retiring from the Senate). Another filee is-- Prince Mongo, the barefoot restaurateur who is generally regarded these days as an idea whose time has come and long gone.

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