The first elected black mayor of Memphis has officially resigned after a record 18 years in office to focus on his run for Congress.
Willie Herenton submitted his resignation letter Thursday. He says he wants to focus on the race against U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen in the August 2010 Democratic primary.
Herenton was the first black man to be elected Memphis mayor. Cohen became the city’s first white congressman in more than three decades when he was elected in 2006.
The 69-year-old Herenton says he’s running for Congress because none of Tennessee’s congressmen is a minority — the same thing that motivated him to run for mayor.
Herenton announced his resignation last month but didn’t leave office until Thursday because he had to wrap up “important city business.”