Candidates say Herenton/Ford debate getting in the way of real issues

Two candidates running for the District 9 Congressional seat say the debate between Mayor Herenton and Independent candidate Jake Ford is getting in the way.  Candidates Steve Cohen and Mark White say they want to stay focused on the race.

Cohen and White may differ on issues like health care and the war in Iraq - but when it comes to the sparring between Herenton and Ford, the candidates both say it's time for some positive campaigning.

Steve Cohen may have Mayor Willie Herenton's endorsement, but Cohen says he had nothing to do with what Herenton said about Jake Ford and his family. Cohen tells Action News Five, "Freedom of speech has been one of my fortes, it's something i'm very much in favor of, nobody scripts me and nobody scripts the people that support me."

Cohen responded to the verbal sparring between Herenton and Ford by ignoring it. When asked about it, Cohen said, "I appreciate Mayor Herenton's endorsement, he's been the mayor for a long time, he has a lot of support in the community and I look forward to working with both the city and county mayors."

Mark White says the exchange shows what's wrong with local leadership. According to White, "We've had 35,000 people move out of Memphis in the last 5 years. DeSoto County is filling up. We need to take care of Memphis. We need some leadership in this town and we do not have it."

White believes on election day, voters will base their choice on issues like education and the war in Iraq... not the bickering. He said "I think the people are smarter than that. We're past that. We are well past that in this community."

Jake Ford also says he's looking ahead, and that this race is not about the Ford family, but the candidates.