MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mayor Jim Strickland can celebrate his successful bid for re-election. His top challengers, former mayor Willie Herenton and Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer, both conceded to the incumbent candidate before 9 p.m.
Strickland said he was “humbled and grateful” that the citizens of Memphis once again voted him into office. He spoke of the proud moment he experienced Thursday accompanying his son to vote for the first time.
Strickland thanked Herenton for his support, kind words and a lifetime of service to Memphis. He thanked the other candidates running for office Thursday in an effort to make Memphis better.
Herenton said Thursday’s election was the first race he’s lost in Memphis. He congratulated Strickland his bid for re-election and said he would support the mayor’s administration.
Early returns had Strickland holding a commanding lead over his challengers, more than doubling Herenton’s votes. Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer held the third spot but was tens of thousands of votes behind Strickland.
After his concession speech, Herenton said his political career is over: “This is the last political contest that you’ll see Willie Herenton in.”
Herenton was the first African American elected mayor of Memphis. He took office Oct. 3, 1991 and served five terms.
In her position as county commissioner, Sawyer said she will continue to focus on everything she fought for as a mayoral candidate.
Other races decided Thursday include city council seats and a sales tax referendum.