Charles Carpenter says he is surprised that Willie Herenton would pull a petition to enter a Memphis special mayoral election that is happening because of Herenton's July 30 resignation after more than 17 years as mayor, but Carpenter betrayed no ill feelings toward the man he helped get elected mayor five times.
Herenton's longtime campaign manager did, however, echo Herenton's concern about his interim replacement, Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery.
"Willie Herenton is a private citizen and he is certainly free to express his love for the city of Memphis," said Carpenter, an attorney with a thriving law business who recently opened a second campaign headquarters. "Our strategy will not change. We will go directly to the city of Memphis and share our vision of a new beginning."
Of Lowery, Carpenter said he has "demonstrated he does not have the judgment to be CEO of the city of Memphis" and implied something seemed amiss in the fact that Lowery served as chair of the commission that presented amendments to the city charter in 2008 (note: edited from previous version that said 2007). City voters overwhelmingly approved the amendments, one of which set up a new mayoral succession process that another declared candidate, Carol Chumney, has claimed credit for proposing.
Chumney said on June 26, the day Herenton first announced his resignation, that she wanted the mayoral succession process amended to include the call for a swift special election so that "some political hack" would not be made interim mayor. Previously, the city's chief administrative officer, who is appointed by the mayor, was first in line to serve as interim, but the city charter amendment -- again, approved by a huge majority of voters -- changed the succession process so that the City Council chairperson would assume mayoral duties until after a special mayoral election.
As the most senior member of a very inexperienced City Council, Lowery was elected chair for 2009. So when Herenton resigned, Lowery took over. Had Herenton gone though with his 2008 intent to resign, Lowery would not have been in line, and had Herenton waited until 2010, after Lowery had been succeeded as chairman, someone else would have replaced him (also edited from previous version).
"Myron Lowery was on that Charter Commission, he chaired that Charter Commission and it's interesting that he is the first one to benefit from the changes," Carpenter said.
Herenton's statement explaining the maneuver focused mainly on his desire that Lowery "must be stopped" and that "we cannot allow" Lowery to win the special election, and avoided directly criticizing any other candidates. Herenton's statement does describe as "puzzling" the list of declared candidates. And, at another point, he calls it "a complicated array" of candidates.
Carpenter said he took no offense at the statement, but it is clear that Herenton's move is not exactly an endorsement of his former campaign manager and man whose law practice has done so much business with the city. But Carpenter said he has no intentions of backing out now.
"I supported him because I thought he was the best candidate at the time," Carpenter said. "During this special election, I do not feel that is the case. I feel like I am the best candidate to move this city forward."