Friday, August 8, 2014

Luttrell gets another four years

The crowd erupted in applause at Owen Brennan’s restaurant on Poplar Avenue Thursday night after Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell Jr. made his way upfront to address his supporters and campaign staffers. 
       “I am so very, very appreciative of the opportunities that you’ve given me. Eight years as your sheriff, now going into eight years as your county mayor,” said Luttrell, who’d just beat Democratic challenger Deidre Malone in a hotly contested mayoral race in the county general election.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Luttrell’s vote total came to 90,470 (62 percent). Malone trailed with 53,376 (36 percent) votes. The decisive victory is a mandate from voters Luttrell alluded to going forward. 
       “I hope more than anything else…what we’re able to do tonight is not only celebrate this victory on election night, but also resolve to go forward with those things that we emphasized throughout the campaign that were so vital to this community,” he said.
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell addresses his supporters
following an impressive win over Democrat Deidre Malone. 
       Economic development, providing a world-class education, improving the economy, protecting Shelby Countians, and managing a fiscally sound budget were some of the issues that Luttrell focused on during the campaign.
       Malone fought hard to wrest the seat from Luttrell, but came up short. She was a mayoral candidate in the Democratic primary in 2010, but lost to then-interim Shelby County mayor Joe Ford, whom Luttrell beat that year in the general. 
       Malone called to thank Luttrell on winning reelection. Later she shared part of the conversation with supporters who gathered at the Withers Collection Museum & Gallery on Beale Street.
       “I said to him that my hope is that for the next four years that you will do something great for Memphis and Shelby County. And I think it is our responsibility to make sure that he does.”
       Luttrell, she said, thanked her for “having a campaign that was honest” and one run with integrity.
       “We (during the campaign) talked about the issues because I felt that that’s what the people wanted to hear from us.”
       Malone pointed out the new ground her campaign was able to break during the primary.
       “We were able to do something in the primary that no other woman had done. We won the primary for the Democrats. And no female has won it for Republicans – so excited about that opportunity, about breaking that glass ceiling in the primary.”
       Noting that women are the majority of voters in Memphis and Shelby County, Malone said, “And we need to step up and realize that we can lead as well. So I look forward to supporting a very qualified woman, whoever comes behind me to take this on. And I am sure that someone real soon will make it happen.”
The mayor and his family. (Photos: Wiley Henry)
       Malone assured supporters that she would continue to be a voice for the working folks in the community.
       Luttrell campaign staffer Bryan Edmiston, a Cordova high school teacher, said Luttrell didn’t take anything for granted. “He made phone calls himself. I was impressed with his work ethic.” 
       Grassroots campaigning, Luttrell said, is his key to winning elections. 
       “We made 40,000 phone calls over the last six weeks. We hit the 40,000 mark yesterday (Aug. 6th). We knocked on hundreds of doors, reached out to people one-on-one and stood on street corners.”
       Dr. Melvin D. Wade said he predicted Luttrell would beat Malone based on the mayor’s record in office and the reaction from those he’d introduced the mayor to while campaigning one day in North Memphis.
      “I didn’t find a single person who said anything negative about the mayor, which, to me, was an indication they were pleased with the mayor and his administration,” said Wade, pastor of Christian Chapel Baptist Church in North Memphis. 
      “I personally felt like he’d done an excellent job in leading the county in the last four years,” he said.
       Luttrell noted the challenges that Shelby County faces, but added, “What progressively moved us forward is that we have evolved in this community to solve problems…. We’re charitable. We get involved. We step out when we’re needed. We do the things that have to be done to move us forward.”
       That includes praying, he said. “I think it’s important for those of us in public office that every night when we lay our head on that pillow we say our prayers.”
       He said he did not want to disappoint those people who trusted him, those who believed he has the skillset to make a different.
       “I want you to always feel comfortable with me, have confidence in me, and have faith in my ability to represent you as best as I can. I will continue to do that,” he said.

       (This story includes a report by Nina Allen-Johnson.)

‘A heart for people’ inspires the Servant’s Circle

       “I have a heart for people and I’ve always been a servant of the community. I just want to see people have the best in life,” said Minister Telisa Franklin, senior servant of The Servant’s Circle, a newly formed ministry that Franklin started Aug. 2.
      The Servant’s Circle is a non-traditional, non-denominational church that holds service on Saturdays in a building that Franklin has used as her place of business along a business strip at 2988 Old Austin Peay Hwy. Service starts at 6 p.m. each Saturday.
Minister Telisa Franklin
      “The ministry is a fellowship of people who want to serve,” said Franklin, the executive director of the Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival before the name was changed this year to the Juneteenth Urban Music Festival.
      The mission of the ministry, she said, is to “serve our God, serve our family and serve our community.” 1 Samuel 25-41 (NIV) is the foundational scripture: “She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, ‘I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my Lord’s servants.’”
      “The bible says what you do for the least one of you, you do it to me. I took it upon myself seven years ago to serve the community,” said Franklin, who hosted a ministerial boot camp, a Community Shoebox for Seniors Brunch, an STD forum for young men and women, an annual Thanksgiving dinner for the hungry and homeless, and other community projects throughout the years.
      Forty people attended the inaugural service. “We serve on Saturdays as an alternative to Sunday worship,” said Franklin, a license minister with the Full Gospel Church Fellowship. She also is an ordained evangelist, which was bestowed upon her by a pastor in the Baptist church.
“We worship for 60-90 minutes,” she said, “and get in all the traditional worship that people are accustomed to and then get right to the heart of worship – praising God.”
      “I really enjoyed the service. I felt those words were especially for me,” Charlette Pipkin, a native Memphian currently serving as a sergeant in the U.S. Army, texted Franklin later that day.
      Following service, parishioners were treated to refreshments as a goodwill gesture and token of love and appreciation from the ministry’s staff. Many of them wore casual clothing, which she encourages during worship.
      “I’m not a traditional pastor. I’m just the senior servant,” said Franklin, who conceived the idea for the ministry three years ago, but sat on it until she was compelled “by the Holy Spirit” to bring the idea to fruition.
      “I was disobedient and didn’t want to lead people, so I presented the idea to a male pastor. But he didn’t think that was what he wanted to do at the time.”
Now that the ministry is up and running, Franklin said there will be a service project each month for parishioners who want to perform community service.
Later this month, college students will be the recipients of their goodwill.
For more information about the Servant’s Circle, contact Minister Telisa Franklin at (901) 281-6337.