Richard Hackett

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For the North Carolina congressman, see Richard N. Hackett.
Richard C. Hackett
Mayor of Memphis
In office
1982–1991
Preceded by Wallace Madewell
Succeeded by W. W. Herenton

Richard Cecil "Dick" Hackett (born July 21, 1949) was mayor of the city of Memphis, Tennessee from 1982 to 1991. He also served as Shelby County (Tennessee) Clerk from 1978 to 1982. At the time that he took office as mayor, he was 33 years old and was the youngest mayor of a major U.S. city. He is best known for being the last white mayor of Memphis and for his defeat in the historic 1991 election that saw the victory of the first African-American mayoral candidate in the city's history, W. W. Herenton.

Despite his incredibly narrow loss to Herenton (172 votes out of slightly over 248,000 cast),[1] Hackett was a fairly popular mayor during his nine years in office. He ran and won three times, claiming victory in a 1982 special election as well as in the 1983 and 1987 general elections. His percentage of the vote increased each time, culminating in a lopsided victory in 1987 in which he garnered over 58% of the vote, including nearly 20% of the black vote. Despite this, by 1991 Hackett had become vulnerable due to changing demographics (because of continued white flight to the suburbs and an increasing black population, the city was nearly 55% African-American by 1991) as well as controversies during his second full term, including Holiday Inn's corporate headquarters leaving the city for Atlanta, serious problems with the Memphis Housing Authority and embarrassing issues involving the financing of the Pyramid Arena in downtown.[2]

During Hackett's nine years as mayor, tourism, downtown redevelopment, business growth and non-profit institutional development were his main priorities. He was considered a fiscal conservative, with property taxes increasing only once while he was in office (in 1985) and the city's debt level remaining well under control. On the issue of race, Hackett was seen by many as a moderate, especially in comparison to his predecessors J. Wyeth Chandler (1972–82) and Henry Loeb (1968–71). He appointed many African-Americans as division directors, most notably James Ivey as police director and Greg Duckett as chief administrative officer.

After his 1991 defeat, Hackett worked for several non-profit agencies over the next 15 years. In July 2006, he became the CEO/director of the Children's Museum of Memphis.[3]

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Political offices
Preceded by
Wallace Madewell
Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee
1982 - 1991
Succeeded by
W. W. Herenton