Strong reaction to Herenton's speech - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Janice Broach

Strong reaction to Herenton's speech

Dancing and shouts of joy broke out at Mayor Herenton's campaign party Thursday night when it became clear the mayor had been elected to a fifth term in office.  The votes came after Herenton's toughest campaign since his election to office in 1991.

When the mayor made it through the large crowd, up to the podium, it seemed for just a minute he might be a humbled mayor by his win.  Herenton went as far to admit in his victory speech that he has not acted right at times.

"I want to thank all of my friends who were with me unconditionally," Herenton said. "I've learned something about people. Some people like you and love you, but its conditional. But there's some that are with you unconditionally. So I want to thank those individuals that even when I have faltered in my judgement and my behavior been perhaps inappropriate."

Then Herenton, clearly stung by criticism, started talking about "the haters."

"There's a lot of (them), and I'm going to be real nice tonight, but there are some mean spirited people in Memphis," he said. "There are some mean people in Memphis. They some haters in Memphis."
 
Herenton said Memphians need to decide whether or not they want a divided city, saying he is not to blame for any divisions.

"I didn't separate us and I want to tell you something else too: If you don't care, they'll work a game on you."
 
"When you know the mayor, it was a conciliatory speech," said political analyst Larry Moore. "If you looked at the things he said and basically, thanked the people who helped him, he did show some disappointment over people not with him anymore."

Moore said the mayor did address the racial issue, saying he wanted to unite people, not divide them.

Still, Herenton's speech was divisive to some.  In an email to Action News 5, one viewer said," I thought it was offensive because he brought in the race card right away."

After his speech, the mayor said his most recent campaign has taught him a lot, and it didn't make him feel good.

"I've learned a lot about human nature," he said. "I've learned how deep racism is in Memphis. I've learned a lot about jealousy and envy among my own people. I've learned a lot about just human nature.."

Dana Taylor, a Herenton supporter, said the mayor has done a good job.

"The people have come to the realization the mayor has done a great job for this city and there is a lot to be done in the next four years," she said. "There's a lot has to be done just as he said."

Herenton said he wants to move the city forward, and he doesn't plan to change his style. He believes it has served him well.

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