Monday, October 08, 2007

Turning Our Attention To Finding A Great Mayor: Comments And Conversation

We’re always impressed by the quality of comments that we receive and the provocative opinions left by readers. Much of this normally takes place below the radar (down among the comments), but we thought the following comments to last Friday's post, Turning Our Attention To Finding A Great Mayor, were relevant and pertinent to the post-election post mortem, so we’re posting them here too.

We hope you'll join in with our own opinions about finding someone who can run for mayor in four years who will be a great mayor for Memphis and your opinion of what the next four years of the Herenton Administration will be like.

Aaron said...

For real progress, we must reconcile the past with, raise up, educate and bring real hope to the contingency that got Herenton re-elected. Then and only then will we get a better Mayor.

The fact that Herenton got re-elected only reflects the lack of healing between the two cultures here. Sadly, the only empowerment that the poor feel here is their vote for Herenton. It's a statement of their resistence and disdain for the other culture.

Until one culture reaches out and ask for forgiveness by visiting and befriending the other, then forget electing any candidates with vision for how to make Memphis a a world-class metropolitan city. The vision, in all its facets, for this city must be shaped by reconcilation.

The Mayor that grasps this and pays more then lip service to the vision will capture the hearts of many and restore Memphis.

Anonymous said...

Two people I know who used to live in Detroit during the Coleman Young years both expressed to me that they worried that Herenton would become another Coleman Young were he to win this election. Their feelings struck a chord with me because I was reading a book at the time that detailed the black elite.

One chapter was dedicated to Detroit and went into some detail about the hostility that Young expressed toward the black professional class and the city's whites, both of whom he had alienated during his many years in office. The book implied that some of the decline the city experienced was traceable to this antagonism.

The two people I talked to both worried that were Herenton to win, he would do so with virtually no white support and would be dismissive of white concerns because he had won without their support, just as Coleman had done in Detroit. Do you see similar such parallels between Herenton and Young?

Anonymous said...

I spent a number of years in Michigan and remember the Young years. I knew several people on his staff and one or two of his close political advisors. I am afraid I have to concur with the post above.

I remember only too well the day Sam Riddle, a Young advisor who was a leader in the black student movement at Michigan State a few decades earlier, came out of a meeting with Young and his inner circle and remarked that he feared "they were all on crack." This was to the media and it was probably at the peak of the period when the administration was spiraling out of control. All too familiar and as Yogi says, "deja vu all over again."

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to go off topic, but I'm in the 24-34 young professional age group. I've talked to several others in this group since late last night and they all said they are looking to move in the next year.

They saw Memphis going in the wrong direction before the election and now think that trend will pick up speed.

Smart City Memphis said...

You're not off topic. This is a thread that runs through everything we write about here.

While the impulse is to pick up and move, we would suggest that you stay and work to change things. The dinosaurs are slowly dying off and hopefully, soon (very soon if we're lucky), it will be yours. Keep in mind, four years from now, we'll need a new mayor and the nontraditional examples in other cities should inspire us to look outside the normal suspects to come up with someone who can take Memphis in a direction that appeals to your generation. We hope you'll stay here and take up the battle with us to find that person and get them elected. Hopefully, we'll have someone from your age group to consider.

Sadly, Memphis (like most metro areas in the U.S.) is already bleeding 25-34 year-olds. There's about 15 cities that are sucking up all the young talent. Now we need you more than ever.

The good thing about cities is their resiliency to survive whatever leadership we throw at them. Memphis will survive, but it's your generation that will determine if it succeeds.

We hope you stay. We know how difficult the choice is.


irène said...

I too encourage the youth to remain. Easy for me to say as when I was 31, I graduated with my Masters and promptly hit the road for the "promised land" of Portland, Oregon. While it offered a great change in terms of livability (i.e. reduction in property/personal crime and a great dose of consumer pretties to indulge myself in etc), it had about half the soul of a city like Memphis. The difference in the two cities is that Portland believes in itself, Memphis does not. I grew up there so I know of what I speak. I picked up on that vibe as early as age 16.

Smartcity is right; the Old Guard is dying off and will need replacing. Now is the time to envision what you'd like to see in a city and go for it. All those 15 cities soaking up the youth can't be the receptacle for every young person's dreams. Portland is wonderful, but my husband and I left when the balance of the city started becoming more like a post-university, extended adolescence and less of a vista for young people trying to bring something alive. It began to have the feel of a tourist attraction; it also started becoming exorbitantly expensive to live there.

So, while there are frustrations in the current situation, just packing up and moving somewhere doesn't forever solve the problem. So, even if you do end up leaving, don't ever think Memphis won't seem attractive enough to return after you've seen the other side.

As for us, we'll be back to live within the year. I am willing to give Memphis another go.

Anonymous said...

That's your opinion, fair enough. My advice to any young person with skills, a degree, and ambition is to leave Memphis and never come back except to visit.
I came back in 1992 and while it's been fun at times, if I had it to do over, I would have gone elsewhere. Now I have kids in school, roots here, but when my kids are in college (not here) I'll be looking to move.
My advice, get out while you're young and mobile, this is not a city of the future, it's a slum.