Herenton says resignation conditional on city schools employment - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Joe Birch and Kontji Anthony

Herenton says resignation conditional on city schools employment

Willie Herenton will not resign as Memphis mayor if he does not become superintendent of Memphis City Schools, he said Monday.

Herenton announced last Thursday plans to step down in July after 16 years as mayor.

Monday, Herenton said citizens have pleaded with him over the years to return to Memphis City Schools, where he was superintendent for 12 years before becoming mayor.

By phone, Herenton told Action News 5's Joe Birch that he would stay on as city mayor if he did not become superintendent.

"I am not trying to pressure the school board to hire me," he said. "I am offering my assistance as a professional educator and 30 year veteran of Memphis City Schools. I want to make myself available to improve our city schools."

The school board plans to fill the vacant job by July.  Herenton's planned exit from City Hall is not effective until July 31.

Some say Herenton's motivation to resign will determine if he actually goes through with it.

"I've heard every theory under the sun," said political analyst Jackson Baker. "From him just being tired of the job, to having proved what he wanted to in the last election."

The mayor said he's resigning because he wants to help Memphis City Schools by returning to his former position as superintendent.
But there's a new theory he has financial motivations.

"I hear that he may be having difficulties with the housing that he's been marketing for years in South Memphis," Baker said. "Everybody in housing is having difficulties right now."

As superintendent, the mayor's salary would jump nearly $100,000 from $171,500 to $260,000.

His pension would jump along with that.

City Councilman Myron Lowery wasn't surprised to hear Herenton announced Monday he might stay in office, if the school board does not appoint him superintendent.

"The mayor's letter saying that he plans to retire is non-binding, so he can change his mind," Lowery said.

But, after the Tennessee Waltz corruption sting, there's a new law that says any public official indicted while in office loses his or her pension.  There are rumors the mayor could face indictments over a questionable real estate deal.

Former city council member and mayoral candidate Carol Chumney says she has a hunch there will be an election to replace Mayor Herenton in November.

"I'm going to prepare for an election because he has said that he may resign," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click here to email Joe Birch.
Click here to email Kontji Anthony.

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