MEMPHIS, Tenn. — You probably have not heard much news lately from the town of Mason, Tennessee – located about 45 miles east of Memphis, but the political goings-on in this historic town of less than a thousand residents bears watching.
I’ll explain why shortly, but first, let’s recall how Mason made national news earlier this year. It happened when the state comptroller’s office urged residents to push for the surrender of the town’s charter because of years of fiscal mismanagement. But the town officials refused and accused the state of racism – which of course made national headlines. Mason’s population is about 72 percent black.
The latest news came this week when Mason voters ousted its incumbent mayor – but did not give the job to the vice mayor – both of whom are African American. Instead, voters elected an Egyptian-born longtime Mason businessman – who is the only non-African American on the town’s board of aldermen.
So why should we care about this hyperlocal election in which only 199 voters participated? Because Mason sits about five miles from BlueOval City, the $5.6 billion Ford truck assembly plant being built next door in Haywood County.
Mason is perfectly positioned for an unprecedented economic boom and voters obviously concluded that new, business-minded leadership is needed in the part-time mayor’s job – to fix the town’s financial problems once and for all.