Thaddeus Matthews, the man leading the recall campaign against Mayor Herenton, tried for months to garner the 70,000 signatures necessary for the recall question to be placed on the ballot. He managed to get approximately 45,000.
Appointed by God?
But the lack of signatures is not the only reason removing the mayor may prove difficult. According to Herenton, he was appointed not by the citizens of Memphis, but rather by God, Himself. Whoever put him in office, it seems that the majority of Memphians want to keep him there as this is Herentons fourth mayoral term.
For Herenton supporters, this is no surprise, as they maintain the mayor has brought much improvement to the city during his fourteen year stint. His list of accomplishments include: the addition of hundreds of police officers to the Memphis Police Department, a $1.3 billion downtown renovation, a fiscally sound city government that operates within its budget, and a youth summer initiative that employs hundreds of teenagers each year.
The City's Problems
But ask those people who want to oust Mayor Herenton, and they will tell you all the things that have gone wrong. For instance, violent crime in Memphis is on the rise -- 2006 began with 13 murders in the first month, setting itself on a course to outdo 2005. MLGW is, in the opinion of a number of people, being run into the ground.
Then there are the implications of impropriety. A baby with a woman hes not married to, an FBI investigation linking Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell with Mayor Herenton by way of some pretty shady characters, a need for more bodyguards than any other mayor in the southeast, the firing of city employees because of budgetary issues just prior to spending huge sums of money redecorating his offices. And let's not forget the Libertyland fiasco.
The Fight Continues
So Thaddeus Matthews and 45,000 of his friends think its time to recall Mayor Herenton. While it doesnt look like this will happen, it still appears that the fight isnt over. This could change the face of Memphis politics.
In an unusual twist it has also been pointed out that even if there is a recall vote and Mayor Herenton is voted out that the City Council, most of whom are on the way out, could conceivably put him right back in office until the next election. Whether the City Council would really go against the will of the people will probably never be known since the recall is unlikely to happen.
As for Mayor Herenton, he appears to be unaffected by all the commotion. Perhaps there is comfort in believing God is on your side.
UPDATE (7/1/06): The recall efforts of Matthews and his supporters failed - in fact, the group came up thousands of signatures short. They are now turning their attention to urging voters not to reelect Herenton in the fall.