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TSD endorses Ricky E. Wilkins in 9th Congressional District

wilkins
The New Tri-State Defender received completed questionnaires from incumbent Steve Cohen and attorney Ricky E. Wilkins in the Democratic Primary for the 9th Congressional District. We will publish the questionnaires with the candidates’ responses on our website, TSDMemphis.com.
 
In 2010, the TSD endorsed Congressman Cohen over former Mayor Dr. Willie W. Herenton. At the time, Cohen was the right choice for the right reasons, which our endorsement detailed this way:
“Congressman Cohen clearly has been an effective legislator over the course of his two terms and certainly during his tenure in the Tennessee General Assembly. He has been a champion for causes and policy intended to positively impact the African-American community. He has built relationships and worked across racial and political aisles as a masterful diplomatic statesman. Ultimately he has done everything he could do to best represent the broad interest of the constituents he represents.
 
“Congressman Cohen’s positions, relationships and proposed legislation are all on point towards bringing to bear a climate that will allow for positive changes in the 30 percent poverty rate, double-digit unemployment, negligible business revenues, high rate of illness and health challenges and 40 percent dropout rate. Ultimately to truly improve the plight of Memphis, we must have leadership derived from within the African American community that identifies with and intrinsically understands the ‘family’. No matter how empathetic, Congressman Cohen will never be the direct catalyst to initiate and foster the change necessary for the African-American community in the 9th District and beyond to make significant strides in improving the challenges that we face. In fact it can and will only come from within.”
 
Those words rang true then and were in some sense prophetic. Wilkins presents himself not based upon his race but truly upon his experiences, qualifications, understanding of the issues and certainly vision, passion and capabilities to be an effective legislator and leader for the 9th District and the Greater Memphis community.
 
Birthed from the heart of South Memphis, Wilkins trained at some of the nation’s best universities and professionally prepared as a dynamic legal mind to be an effective maker of laws. He is articulate, passionate and a servant leader that has practiced law for 23 years. He has built a business, obtained financial success, is not beholding to anyone and can speak and act freely on the issues that most impact constituents. He would bring to public office fresh energy and ideas meshed with seasoned statesmanship and diplomacy nurtured through his experiences practicing law. He also represents a shining example of what we should be asking of every young African-American male in this community: work hard, learn, get all the education you can get, build positive relationships, build business, give back and ultimately serve.
 
Congressman Cohen has been an elected official in Memphis and Shelby County since 1978. He has served with dignity, integrity and conviction and that is to be respected. Yet, despite some positive contributions, progress for the 9th Congressional District – and particularly African Americans – has been stagnant to retarded over the past 6 years. The recovery from the Great Recession has been slow. Losses in homeownership and net worth have been great. Job losses, unemployment and under-employment continue to be significantly higher among African Americans in the district. Despite the establishment of a Minority Business Center, growth in revenues and scale for African-American business continues to be woeful at less than 1 percent of all revenues generated in Shelby County. These factors continue to drag Memphis and Shelby County down and lower the quality of life for all citizens.  
 
Yes, State Sen. Cohen helped establish The Med (now Regional One Health) and fought to establish the Tennessee Lottery and Hope Scholarship program. Those things are to be commended. Still, health disparities persist and outcomes for African Americans in the district continue to lag. Too few African Americans are able to get or retain Hope Scholarships, with too many “paying into the system” playing the lottery on the hopes of a come up.  
 
Over the last eight years, Cohen has failed to lend leadership where leadership was desperately needed. Although the most well coffered candidate in the Shelby County Democratic Party, the senior and most influential standard-bearer has failed to lend resources and influence to help the party achieve success in the last several election cycles.
 
Asked to lend leadership to various local crises, Cohen was quoted as saying he doesn’t get involved with local issues. Wrong answer! This community deserves and needs a Congressman that understands legislation is the job but leadership is the calling.  
 
Cohen has failed to deliver to the voters for the past three election cycles what they fundamentally deserve and that is a debate on the issues. Considering political posturing and strategy, it’s understandable why he may have been advised and subsequently decided against debates. However, it in no way diminishes their necessity in a community with so many unresolved issues and unanswered questions. The leadership the district deserves and needs would stand up to public scrutiny and live debate against any and every serious opponent.  
 
Cohen’s lowbrow pandering in campaign commercials reflects his failure to realize and appreciate that African-American constituents are as discerning as others. In the end, track records, issues, plans and platforms are the things that matter most to voters regardless of race. No one owes his or her vote to a candidate; office seekers must consistently earn it.  
 
Lastly, Cohen’s treatment and handling of longtime aide, ‘brother from another mother” and former friend, Randy Wade, demonstrated a startling lack of allegiance and loyalty. Had he endorsed Wade during the 2010 election it is likely that Wade would be the Shelby County Sheriff right now. 
 
Then consider the public fiasco involving Wade’s use of his personal influence to support a candidate that Cohen did not, and the ensuing ugly breakup. A lot was revealed about the Congressman’s loyalties. To toss aside like recycled newspaper the person that was a proclaimed personal friend, his primary liaison with the African-American community and the one that walked him into churches and provided relationships and credibility that would have taken years to build, reveals maybe someone who has forgotten from whence he’s come and more importantly the work that remains ahead.  
 
This endorsement and ultimately this race are not about race, religion or the culture of the candidate but rather the temperament, vision, energy and boldness necessary to deal with stark realities among a suffering constituent base. In the course of a relay race, there is an optimal time for the baton to be passed and 2014 is that time. This community cannot afford another dropped baton.
 
Wilkins is the candidate to take the 9th Congressional District into a bright new future.  

Comments   

 
0 #14 Sonja Currie 2014-08-05 12:03
Congratulations Ricky! You deserve it!
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+2 #13 Cohen for Congress 2014-08-01 10:11
While I was not surprised at your endorsement, I was shocked by the multitude of factual errors you printed, some of which I have noted herein
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+2 #12 Cohen for Congress 2014-08-01 10:11
But this election is not about Randy Wade, it is about who can best serve the 9th Congressional District.
The Congressional Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus both support my re-election, as does President Barack Obama.
These are the people that truly understand what it takes to be an effective Member of Congress.
Locally there are thousands of Memphians that believe my experience, my relationships, and my knowhow are important to securing vital funding for Memphis.(Cont)
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+2 #11 Cohen for Congress 2014-08-01 10:09
I supported him in his primary against Reginald French as well, even staying in town on Election Night so I could celebrate with my friend.
You also suggest he was thrown out like “yesterday’s paper”. Randy quit in February 2013. I am loyal, perhaps to a fault, and did not fire Randy. In fact, he quit in September 2010 after losing his Sheriff’s race, but I did not accept his resignation. I gave him twenty-four hours to reconsider, and he did.
(Cont)
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+2 #10 Cohen for Congress 2014-08-01 10:08
In your recent endorsement of my opponent, you made several factual errors, and I would appreciate the opportunity to set some of them straight.
You said that if I had endorsed Randy Wade that he would be Sheriff. I not only endorsed him, I had him prominently on my ballot, my billboards, and my mailers. I recorded robocalls for him, and my GOTV phonebankers asked for a vote for Randy. (Cont)
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+2 #9 Bob Pearce 2014-08-01 01:01
Cohen did endorse Randy Wade in 2010. That is not a matter of controversy. It is a fact. Your statement to the contrary should be prominently retracted. The endorsement of Wilkins on the whole sounds less like an effort to inform the voting public on key issues and more like a personal matter of liking Randy Wade more than Cohen. As far as the bottom of the ticket complaining because Cohen's coattails aren't long enough, they should field better candidates.
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-2 #8 Jim Sdoia 2014-07-31 22:42
Dear Ms. Banks, Yes, you are correct in that voting is a right. It is a right of every US citizen who has obtained the age of 18. I seem to recall in the not too distant past, that we have had some instances of dead voters in Memphis casting votes. The Supreme Court has upheld that asking someone for proof of their identity to vote is reasonable. In my opinion, the White Privilege concept is a Saul Alinsky type tactic used to "shame" people into adopting Affirmative Action type programs.
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0 #7 Janice Banks 2014-07-31 17:59
Sdoia, you're so racist that you don't even realize that what you just said is racist. Or maybe that's just how you deflect your guilt onto others who call you out. Affirmative Action attempts to redress the built-in advantage of White Privilege. But then again, you'll probably insist that that doesn't exist either. There is no outbreak of voter fraud. Requiring photo ID has been proven disproportionat ely to impact poor people. And before you go there, voting is a right, not a privilege.
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-2 #6 Jim Sdoia 2014-07-31 17:48
Dear Ms. Banks, Let us deal with facts, not hyberpole. The NRA promotes the rights guaranteed by the second amendment of our Constitution. By the way, currently they are running commercials encouraging voter registration. Asking that every voter have a picture ID is not an attempt to overturn voting rights. Affirmative action programs are inherently racist as they use race as a factor instead of merit. I am not going to comment about Jim Crow as that claim is just bogus.
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0 #5 Janice Banks 2014-07-31 16:50
Sdoia, we ignore her because she is a Tea Party Republican, who has never done anything in the Black community, except promote gun ownership as a member of the I-don't-care-ho w-many-children -are-killed NRA; is paid a salary by her campaign to run for office to split the vote each election cycle; and is a member of the "Red to the Roots" Republican initiative to return to states rights, e.g., over-turning voting rights; affirmative action; Jim Crow & corporations-ar e-people-too Supreme Court.
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+1 #4 MemphisLove 2014-07-31 16:46
TSD, you are right on point. Ricky Wilkins deserves the nod.
RICKY E. WILKINS, OUR NEXT CONGRESSMAN!!
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0 #3 Jim Sdoia 2014-07-31 15:46
What about Charlotte Bergman? She is a strong African-America n woman who will champion principles that will improve the economic opportunities for all on the district. Or do you ignore her because she happens to be a Republican?
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