Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.
A C Wharton, Jr. was sworn in as the Mayor of the City of Memphis on October 26, 2009. Mayor Wharton was elected by a 61% margin of victory against numerous challengers to become Memphis' first new Mayor in 18 years. Upon taking office, Mayor Wharton immediately set about focusing his administration to execute a new agenda of transparency, responsiveness, innovation, and delivering efficient, equitable, and excellent service for the people of Memphis.
Mayor Wharton believes that Memphis can be a City of Choice for people, families, and businesses of all kinds. His vision is to align civic, commercial, and political leaders to move our economy forward and improve the quality of life for all residents. In every word and deed since taking office, he has called for the City of Memphis to celebrate its successes, honor its singular accomplishments, confront its challenges, and claim its place as a great American city.
The Wharton administration and its partners have received national recognition for Memphis' remarkable revitalization. The Mayor has focused specifically on new initiatives that dramatically increase jobs and capital investments, reduce crime, improve government efficiency and transparency, add more parks and green space to the core city, and improve public education for all children. Mayor Wharton has addressed major policy institutions and conferences of the Brookings Institute, CEOs for Cities, and the National Association for Counties. Memphis was one of only seven communities nationwide to be invited by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to take part in a national poverty-reduction initiative co-funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Social Innovation Fund and is working with an ambitious new White House initiative to prevent youth violence throughout Memphis.
Prior to being elected Mayor of the City of Memphis, A C Wharton, Jr. served as the Mayor of Shelby County for seven years and was the first African-American elected to that office.
Twice elected as Shelby County Mayor, Wharton led initiatives that shaped the region's future. He inspired Operation Safe Community, the area's first comprehensive crime-fighting plan, developed the first smart growth and sustainability plan for our community, tackled education and early childhood development issues with programs like Books from Birth and Ready, Set, Grow, and reduced the County's inherited debt while limiting its citizens to only one tax increase in seven years.
A visionary leader, Mayor Wharton created a public-private partnership to preserve and cultivate Shelby Farms Park--the largest urban park of its kind in the country--and established the Shelby Farms Greenline, a new urban trail connecting Midtown Memphis to Shelby Farms Park recognizing Memphis' potential as a green, connected, and healthy city.
As the City's leading official, Mayor Wharton has worked untiringly to incubate innovation and create efficiencies throughout government at a level that has brought about dramatic improvements in a relatively short amount of time. These advances have included a rooting out of corruption from within city government. Mayor Wharton established the Office for Talent and Human Capital to develop, retain, and attract the best and brightest young workers. He has pledged 55 miles of new bicycle lanes and hired the City's first Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator. And through what has been a difficult economic period for the nation, Mayor Wharton has with the support of others personally shepherded a number of processes that have resulted in thousands of new jobs in Memphis' economic pipeline. In concert with these efforts, he has placed equal attention and invested significant time on job retention and expansion opportunities for companies already located in Memphis.
An attorney by trade, Wharton is a former public defender and served as executive director of the nonprofit Memphis Area Legal Services, which received national recognition as a result of his leadership. In 1982, he wrote and saw passed one of the first state laws in the United States to combat domestic violence. At a national level, he worked for a special appropriation for one of the nation's first transitional living facilities for juveniles. While serving as a public defender, Wharton's passion for reform in criminal justice system's treatment of the mentally ill led to the nationally renowned Jericho Project.
Mayor Wharton received his law degree in 1971, graduating with honors from the University of Mississippi Law School, where he was one of the first African-American students to serve on the Moot Court Board and first to serve on the Judicial Council. He became the University's first African-American professor of law, where he taught for 25 years. He earned a political science degree from Tennessee State University and is a native of Lebanon, Tennessee.
The Mayor and his wife, Ruby, have raised six sons in Memphis.