A C Wharton sworn in as new Memphis mayor - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

A C Wharton sworn in as new Memphis mayor, Avery as Shelby County mayor

A C Wharton is sworn in as mayor of Memphis. A C Wharton is sworn in as mayor of Memphis.
Joyce Avery is sworn in as acting mayor of Shelby County. Joyce Avery is sworn in as acting mayor of Shelby County.

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A C Wharton, the first newly elected mayor of Memphis in nearly two decades, was sworn in at a ceremony Monday at City Hall.

In prepared remarks that echoed the 'One Memphis' theme of his campaign, Wharton pledged to work with people inside City Hall along with citizens at large. 

In front of a packed audience, Wharton thanked his wife Ruby for her support during his campaign, along with his 93-year-old mother, who he said told him to just, "act right."

Wharton also thanked Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery for his work in improving efficiency within the mayor's office during his brief tenure.

Wharton said the people of Memphis tell him their hopes for the city and the call for unity echoes loudest.

"The desire for me is to help bring an end to the rancor and divisiveness that has too often...defined our politics and clogged the engine of our forward progress," he said.

The new mayor also spoke of plans for a new ethics code, as well as an open-door policy during his first days as mayor.  Wharton would not say which employees will stay, come, or go.  He said he plans to roll out agendas for the first 30, 45 and 90 days.

"That is being formulated right now," he said. "We've had I don't know how many meetings with the transition team.  That's their first charge.  Not to come up with personnel, but to come up with the agenda."

Earlier Monday morning, Shelby County Commission chair Joyce Avery was sworn in as acting Shelby County Mayor, replacing Wharton.  Avery will act as the county's mayor for up to 45 days.

After introducing her advisors, Avery said she has one goal: To provide continuity.

"It is not the place of an acting mayor to offer brand new plans, propose expensive projects, change things that have worked for years or get out in front of the cameras," she said.

Instead, county finances will take center stage.

"I want to make sure that we strictly adhere to the debt plan that was established during Mayor Wharton's tenure so we can continue to reduce our debt," she said.

The ceremony was not without comic relief, as Commissioner Steve Mulroy gave former Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton a gift - a broom.

"It occurred to me that you might need this in going over to the city," Mulroy told Wharton.

Meanwhile, Mulroy provided Avery with a bottle of aspirin.

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