Joe Ford: No Holds Barred - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Joe Ford: No Holds Barred

(You can watch Kontji Anthony's complete interview with Joe Ford in the video player to the right of this story.)

In the Ford family tree, he's considered one of the more quiet ones.  In a recent interview, Action News 5's Kontji Anthony sat down with Shelby County Commissioner Joe Ford for a no holds barred interview that revealed a different side of the Ford family.

A family photo says it all.  N.J. and Vera Ford sit in the middle, surrounded by their 12 sons and daughters.  Included in the picture is former State Senator John Ford, former congressman Harold Ford, Senior, current State Senator Ophelia Ford, former Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford, and Joe Ford, current Shelby County Commissioner and former member of the Memphis City Council.

"I don't think we ever had a dynasty, what people say," Ford said in a recent interview. "We've served- we've served a lot of years.  You add these years up, we've served a lot of years in politics, but we don't treat it as a dynasty."

Ford does not plan he will not run for office again. As he humbly ponders his last dance in politics, Ford reflects on the past, the future and his family.

He believes people have many misconceptions about his family.

"Sometimes we don't know how to approach people," he said. "A lot of people think that they don't know how to approach us, but sometimes we're shy approaching people ourselves."

The top misconception?

"A lot of people think that we sit around and have meetings and talk about what seat, what we're going to run for, what's on the agenda today, what are we going to bring up in committee, and we don't do that," he said.

The media called Joe day and night when his sister Ophelia had trouble in Nashville.  A mysterious illness caused her to miss most of her first Senate term, but now she's back.

"She's glad to be back up there and I'm looking forward to her to making a full recovery and starting out next year and doing a great job in Nashville," Ford said.

Last month, his brother John reported to prison to serve a five and a half year sentence on corruption charges.

"It's hard for what's happening to John, but we're just ordinary, and sometimes we have to do things that other people do when it comes to it- even serving time sometimes," Ford said.

Then, there's the next generation. Former congressman Harold Ford, Jr. just got married.  Edmund Ford, Jr. is serving his first term in his father's old seat on the Memphis City Council.

And there's one young Ford you may not have met: Joe's son Justin.

"I think that one day he'll probably be in politics, and he'll probably follow in my footsteps right here at the funeral home and he'll be better than me," Ford said of his son.

Ford says he's jumped many hurdles to get where he is today, and for the first time, he's sharing a confession.

"From 1981 all the way to '91, I did have a problem with alcohol," he said.  "Looking at my face, my weight loss, and just not even being at home.  It was terrible.  I was almost in the streets."

Ford checked himself into rehab, and has been sober more than 16 years.

"I just want to go away gracefully, and then my record will speak for itself," he said.


Click here to send an interview to Kontji Anthony.

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