Herenton refuses debate, still says he'd win

We've heard it more than once from Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.  We're talking about his refusal to participate in any debate.  But an event Thursday night was different.  The mayor was among four top candidates showing up take questions from a group called The Coalition for a Better Memphis.

"I think it's important for the mayor to talk to his constituents and tell us what he's all about," says Executive Director Peggy Callahan.  "I think it's good that he's here," she adds.

But Herenton's opponents say it's time they get a chance to question the mayor, in a debate.

"When you perceive the fact that you're the leader, you don't want to give anybody the chance at you," says mayoral candidate John Willingham.

"The mayor will get in the ring with Joe Frazier, but not Carol Chumney?" says Chumney.  "Let's get in there and debate these issues," she adds.

They wonder why Herenton is so unwilling to meet face-to-face.

"I'm certainly not afraid of it," says candidate Herman Morris.  "I look forward to it and would relish the opportunity," he adds.  "You'll have to ask him whether he's afraid of it," says Morris.

We did.

"I'm much more articulate, I'm faster on my feet," says Mayor Herenton.  "They really don't need to debate with me because I would wear them out in a debate," he adds.

He says the other candidates should feel free to debate each other.

"And what I want the public to do is distinguish between a dramatically remarkable record and rhetoric," says Herenton.

Voters have until October 4th to do just that.

The other candidates will have a chance to debate right here on Action News 5.  Of course, the mayor has an open invitation.  That televised debate will take place in September.

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