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Mar. 22 - MAYORAL RACE: The Passionate and Committed Candidate for Savannah Mayor, Murray Silver

Editor’s Note:  The Savannah Business Journal sat down with declared candidate Murray Silver on Weds., March 18, his first formal interview with local media, and our first in a series of interviews with declared candidates for the November Municipal elections.

by Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

March 22, 2015 – Murray Mendel Silver Jr., a fifth-generation Savannahian, is passionate about his city. He’s passionate about almost everything.

And, he has two clear platform issues:  addressing the City’s crime problem – he supports establishing a Police Commission to oversee a merged police department - and unifying the City and County governments.

When he talks about his life, career and motivation for entering the race to unseat Mayor Edna Jackson, he can regale the interviewer with endless anecdotes of his life, and that of his father and grandfather. The latter was a known bootlegger and club owner in Savannah’s Historic District, which landed him in jail when “the powers that be,” decided to crack down on him, according to Silver.

His father, a Savannah attorney, was representing “poor black defendants,” according to Murray, until some of the city’s affluent families and attorneys decided they didn’t like that and effectively “ran him out of town.”  They moved to Brunswick when Murray, Jr. was 12, where his Dad began to do the same thing.

 In 1966, his work with poor defendants came to the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King, and the family moved to Atlanta.

Murray Sr. worked with Dr. King, and then Coretta Scott King after Dr. King’s death, raising money for Dr. King’s library.  Murray Sr. and Jr. ran concerts, including rock concerts, in Atlanta to fund the library.   His father was “the only white face on the original board of directors for the library,” Murray Jr. explains.   

In 1972 Murray Sr. was the Campaign Finance Chairman for Andrew Young’s successful run for Congress in 1972, and continued to work with Young for a number of years.  His Dad's example clearly had a powerful influence on Murray Jr.'s perspective and attitudes.   

Being a music promoter, and involvement in civil rights, was part of Murray’s early life and career, he explains.  “I am not late to civil rights, and black issues,” he emphasizes, in talking about his candidacy, and states that his knowledge of issues of the black community here will be an asset as Mayor. 

Professionally, he continued to build his music promotion career, which led to his well-known book and then Hollywood deal for, “Great Balls of Fire,” the biography the life of Jerry Lee Lewis, who Murray Silver had also promoted.  

After his move back to Savannah, and eventual marriage in 1998, he focused on becoming an author of some of Savannah’s colorful stories, and has not authored 11 books here. He is also now a publisher of the work of other authors.  

His Campaign for Mayor

His campaign for mayor is still coming together, but his stated campaign manager, treasurer and publicist have been hesitant to come forward of late, hesitant to challenge the city’s leadership publicly in a small city where business and advertising relationships are tentative.  And Murray’s been frustrated about it. But not as frustrated as what happened to him in December and January. 

He was originally approached by a group of citizens that planned to form a PAC to support him, to be funded by O.C. Welch to the tune of $200,000, says Silver, until they spent more time with him and realized that he was not the type of ‘Tea Party’ candidate they were seeking.  Murray’s father and mother are now residents in Bluffton, where his father is Chairman of the Beaufort County Tea Party. “That’s not me,” explains Murray.

“When they read my memoir, and my father’s memoir, and realized our family connection to Dr. King and Andrew Young, they were appalled…. Oh my God, we’ve got the wrong Murray,” was the collective sentiment. “They were furious with me that I would not run around town and talk like O.C. Welch,” he adds.  Welch appeared to have toyed with a run, but ended speculation last week that he would stage a campaign.   

“We’re taking the town back,” Murray says that the group said. “Take it back from whom. I asked?” They cannot change the color of this city. They can’t change the status quo.”

The Decision to Enter the Race

“Several years ago, I realized that I had done everything that I wanted – I had written my memoir and made my money. And, I decided to dedicate the rest of this life to public service.

He is the past president of the Savannah Lion’s Club, has worked with political candidates including Carl Gilliard’s campaign in Garden City, and worked with a number of non-profit organizations including the homeless and Savannah Feed the Hungry groups.   He is also active with the St. Patrick’s Day parade committee. 

“I just feel it’s my time – it’s my time to run.  There is a lot of do.  I really care,” he adds.

“I look at being Mayor as a service job. It’s a lifestyle of service.

The Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Visit Savannah’ arm has “sent me around the country to promote the city,” with their team. “I am the sizzle to the steak,” in tell the stories about Savannah, he says. “They offered to pay me to do it, but I wouldn’t take the money.”  

I’m not a professional politician; I’m not running against Edna. I’m running FOR Mayor, and for Savannah.

Some Personal Facts

He’s 61 years old, and makes his living now as a publisher and day trader, managing his investments.

He lives at 4602 Sussex Place, a duplex left in a remainder trust by his great-grandmother, Barbara Cohen Silver, that provided that Murray would be the person responsible for his parents as they aged, which he now does.  His Great Grandmother was also an Eichholz, and the grandmother of well-known Savannah realtor Dickie Mopper.

He’s the owner of Bonaventure Books, the largest independent publisher of Savannah titles – over 25 in publication.   

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  • This is the first declared candidate that sounds interesting to me. What a gift to be able to bring such a free thinking background to the Mayoral race. I want to know more...
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