MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Commissioner and Memphis mayoral candidate Tami Sawyer released a statement Saturday addressing insensitive statements on her Twitter account, saying she’d grown as a person since she made the statements several years ago.
“I’ll admit: I’d forgotten many of those tweets. When I saw them again, I cringed,” Sawyer wrote in a post on Medium.
“It is clear that I have not always been the person that I am today. I have said things on public platforms that are hurtful, offensive, and just wrong. … To those my words and actions from my past hurt: I am sorry.”
Sawyer said many of the tweets date from her time living in Washington, D.C. She described those years about a decade ago as “a time of evolution.”
She said some tweets that had raised controversy, like those referencing drunken driving, were jokes that didn’t land or are being taken out of context.
Another post described “outing” a lesbian teacher. Sawyer said on Medium that at that point she had not “come to terms with her homophobia.”
— Tami Sawyer (@tamisawyer) July 9, 2014
Other posts on Sawyer’s account use the word “retarded” to describe people and things. According to a search of her Twitter account, Sawyer had used the word “retarded” at least six times.
@amoniquek hahaha. I love that fool but he is retarded.
— Tami Sawyer (@tamisawyer) March 3, 2013
Another references “white kids.”
Sawyer said she was “embarrassed” by the person she was a decade ago, but said she would continue to learn and grow.
“I’m deeply proud right now, to stand as a candidate who cares first and foremost, not about Tami Sawyer, but about the Memphis we so frequently leave behind: Black Memphis. Latinx Memphis. LGBTQ Memphis. Asian Memphis. Muslim Memphis. Disabled Memphis. Homeless Memphis. Poor Memphis,” she wrote.
Earlier this month, Memphis magazine pulled its September issue from store shelves and apologized publicly after complaints that a caricature of Sawyer on the cover promoted racist stereotypes.
A few days later, Sawyer apologized after she was called out for a 2009 tweet that appeared to make light of a person whose dog was euthanized.
Early voting in the Oct. 3 election for Memphis mayor started Friday. Sawyer is facing incumbent Mayor Jim Strickland and former mayor Willie Herenton in that race.