Herenton ready for recall effort

At the Downtown Election Commission, mayoral critic Thaddeus Matthews got the green light to launch his recall effort.

"So I'm officially in business now?" he asked a commission worker.

The reason for the recall?

Matthews' petition claims "gross malfeasance and betrayal of the public's trust."

It's all nonsense to Willie Herenton.

"I have great respect for the rule of law," he said.

In a one-on-one interview about the recall effort, the Memphis Mayor told Action News Five he understands and appreciates the process.

"I will always advocate the right of the people to elect their government officials and - with cause - to remove elected officials."

But, said Herenton, there's nothing to this. He says his tenure as Mayor has seen unprecedented business growth and neighborhood revitalization. And he says success always breeds criticism.

"Some are parochial, some are political and some are personal. They just don't want you in office and they have a right to exercise their voice," he said.

The official go-ahead of the recall effort means a new layer to the campaign season. Matthews says people are upset about budget shortfalls and he believes he'll be able to hit his target of 70,000-plus signatures to have the item added to the August ballot.

"A few of the naysayers and a few of the people that are not on this bandwagon of growth, well, they can sign a petition," said Herenton. "For those elements that want to distract me, they will not be successful."

Matthews is skeptical.

"Now if you believe that he's not worried about it, I'll sell you that Mississippi bridge over there."

Recalled or not, Herenton says he will be running for Mayor, again, next year.

"In 2007, I'll be on the ballot. I'll be on the ballot. I'll be on the ballot."