Citizens had the opportunity to vote for mayor and city council representatives in Tuesday’s municipal election, but no race included more than 95,000 votes. Jim Strickland was re-elected mayor in a landslide victory, but only nine percent of Memphians voted for him.
Memphis has a population of 650,000 people and voter suppression has been voiced as an issue in past elections. This year, with more voting locations and access to information than ever, the number of voters was still alarmingly low.
“Today is election day! Call the Herenton express if you need a ride,” mayoral runner-up Willie Herenton tweeted on Tuesday. The tweet included a photo of the Herenton Express, a shiny Ford Expedition, but it did not receive any likes or retweets.
Herenton also posted to Twitter and Facebook quoting laws that enforce companies to allow workers time to vote. Herenton received 27,694 votes compared to Strickland’s 59,886.
Tami Sawyer came in third place in the mayoral election with 6,666 votes and unlike Herenton, her tweets often receive more likes than votes she received on Tuesday. Social media has been a contentious point for Sawyer’s campaign as controversial tweets were uncovered at the beginning of early voting.
“We might not have the outcome we wanted and hoped for, but our progressive message for equity and opportunity changed the conversation,” Sawyer tweeted on Tuesday.
Jim Strickland’s campaign highlighted pre-kindergarten, reducing the homeless rate and rebuilding MPD according to his website. Strickland was the most advertised mayoral candidate in the election, which may have been a turning point for Memphis voters.
Strickland, winning with 62-percent of the vote, said that the next four years share the same vision of the last four. He tweeted about his excitement moving forward, and also talked about the future on Wednesday.
“I truly believe that what we are doing is what most of Memphis wants,” Strickland said. “That’s to hire more police officers, pave more streets, improve services and create jobs.”
Strickland made hiring police officers a target in this election and in his advertisements. However, his statements on the topic can be misleading, causing more concern for public knowledge of our city’s government.
During Strickland’s time in office, more than 500 Memphis police officers were let go and not given their promised benefits according to the Memphis Police Association.
Strickland’s website reads, “On Strickland’s watch, Memphis has hired over 450 new police officers and had its first net gain of officers in seven years.”
While those officers were hired, it did not occur until after 500 officers were let go from the department.
In fact, Memphis Police Association’s referendum for a slight tax increase to support police officers appeared on the ballot. This referendum made history by becoming the first tax referendum formed by petition, because the city did not act to include it.
The second-most popular race was this referendum, which will pass into law. Exactly 49,676 voters voted for the referendum, while 44,948 voted against it.
“Honored to get back to work today for the city I love!,” Strickland tweeted on Tuesday.