MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The head of the Memphis Police Association announced Monday he’s running for mayor.
Outspoken MPA President Mike Williams became the latest in a growing field of candidates to join the race, and surprisingly, the veteran police officer doesn’t list public safety as his top priority.
Williams has been a thorn in the side of Mayor A C Wharton’s administration for a while. Now, he’s going after Wharton’s job.
“I have issues when economic development is put before support services of the citizens that actually pay the tax dollars,” Williams said.
About 25 supporters joined Williams at the AFSME union hall when he announced his candidacy for Memphis mayor. The veteran police officer says public safety is high on his priority, but it’s not the number one reason he’s running.
“Number one priority is giving the citizens of Memphis their voice back on deciding how to spend their hard-earned tax dollars,” Williams said.
As police union president, Williams has been highly critical of Wharton and his administration. Under Williams’ leadership, the organization ran a series of commercials calling out the mayor for spending tax money on the “wrong” things. MPA put up billboards saying, ‘Enter at your own risk,” when the city considered cutting emergency services. When health care benefits were cuts, the MPA held a job fair for officers to find jobs in other cities.
Williams said, “We’ve become too complacent, and whatever happens, happens.”
Williams doesn’t believe his candidacy conflicts with his job as an officer because he won’t campaign on duty. He already won over the support of someone from city hall: council member Joe Brown.
“Look, Joe Brown is his own man. Nobody has my hands tied. Nobody. I’m unbought and I’m unsold to anybody,” Brown said.
After the announcement, Williams said he would notify his boss, Police Director Toney Armstrong, he was running for mayor. Williams says he talked to the executive board of the police association about this already and at some point he does plan to take a leave of absence, although he didn’t say when.