MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - One of the most controversial politicians in Memphis history said we've hit a new low in politics.
Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton admits he lost his temper at times, but said what happened with Shelby County commissioners and the troubles in other Mid-South areas, shakes the faith of the people.
Some may think it's a bit of a stretch to talk with former mayor Willie Herenton about dysfunctional politics. But, he was never censured, he never directly threatened anybody, and he was open to negotiations. Herenton said what he sees now is almost a total breakdown.
Like him or not, former Mayor Willie Herenton knew how to get things done.
"If I believed I was right, I would stand on principals and integrity. You can never compromise on those aspects," he said. "But if I had to give a little and to work with a person, I had to listen to their point of view; I could listen to their point of view without acrimony."
Consider what's happened since Willie Herenton left office just over two years ago. Shelby County commissioners are in an all out war with each other. The Mayor of Southaven, who remains under investigation, is reportedly in rehab. Southaven's Mayor Pro Tem said he doesn't want the job. Millington Mayor Richard Hodges resigned.
Then there's the Shelby County Commission again, acting with the style and dignity one could only expect to find in a skid row bar.
Willie Herenton has been watching it all. He said he has no interest in getting back into politics again, and this is one reason why.
"Everybody's taking themselves too seriously by getting personal and then the public loses faith in public discourse, and in the people they've elected. I see it as an all time low, not just here," Herenton said.
He argued long and loud with city council members on some issues, but said "It never got down to the point that, you know, what I've seen recently in terms of the behavior of the elected officials.
Herenton is continuing to work on starting charter schools in Memphis. He is waiting for the Tennessee State Treasurer to take action. He said education is what he cares about now, not politics.