Questionnaire Responses for Memphis City Council

Candidates seeking Memphis For All's endorsement must complete an application
Each of these candidates in the 2019 Memphis elections took our survey.
Jump to a candidate's response by clicking their name. 
 
Candidate for endorsement

Britney Thornton

Office Sought?
Have you taken the Memphis For All pledge?

Memphis City Council, District 4

Yes.

What are your Top 5 priorities from the Memphis for All issues if elected?

Sanctuary for Immigrants, Living Wage, Reliable Public Transit, Affordable Housing, Quality Public Schools

How are you already working on these issues for all Memphians?

For the past 3 years, I have served as the lead organizer with the non-profit JUICE Orange Mound. To date, I have led the organization to fully-fund 7 community based projects by collecting and leveraging spare change provided by current residents in Orange Mound. As an organization, we support other community leaders and organizers in advocacy work to fight slumlords and safeguard our public schools.

In addition, our organization has become a partner organization with MICAH. Personally, I serve as one of the co-chairs for the Economic Equity Taskforce. Under my leadership, I have facilitated conversations between Memphis and Shelby County residents, elected officials in various governmental roles, and business leaders in the private sector. The efforts of our transit taskforce have not only educated constituents on the issues with our transit system but also ensured that our elected officials are held accountable in their decision-making.

Lastly, I serve on the Community Redevelopment Agency board as an appointee by Mayor Lee Harris. As the youngest and only community engaged leader on the board, I have contributed to rounding out perspectives concerning housing and development in the Uptown community.

Tell us more about your campaign platform, and how you plan to achieve a vision for Memphis that is truly founded in equality, solidarity, liberty and justice for all.

My platform is focused on ensuing that the constituents of District 4 have better education, better economics, and better engagement. Presently, our City Council does not consider funding our public school system as a priority. Consequently, the schools in District 4 are greatly impacted as schools from Sheffield and Wooddale High School to Hamilton Middle School and Hanley Elementary are all vulnerable to closures. The inability for our neighborhoods to compete with other choice schools continues to impede our most unstable communities from attracting new families and increase enrollment. Presently many of our public school students have over 500 million dollars worth of deferred maintenance impacting their ability to learn in comparable facilities as some of their peers. Our Memphis City Council must play its role in resolving this debt burden to ensure that all children have equal opportunity to quality education.

 

Undeniably, one cannot mention the struggles of the education system without mentioning the economic challenges of our families and working residents. The focus on economics will address barriers that many residents face ranging from not having a living wage job to inaccessibility of jobs due to our inadequate transit system to even the utility burden and rental crisis. The strength of District 4 and our city relies on the strength of our families. We must financially secure people before we can expect them to prosper. Especially as we continue to see crime spike across the city, we must consider our crime issues as economic issues. In other words, we must get to know the issues of the criminals and alleviate their individual barriers to living as productive, contributing citizens.

 

In order to address any of the issues, we must know the people living them out. District 4 has uniquely high percentages of transient residents---mainly along the Southeast corridor from South Memphis to East Memphis. But no one is talking about the issue. Rather than offer funding to the same people implementing the same mediocre interventions, we need to be innovative and intentional to get resources to the people who need them most. People are always surprised to learn of the boundaries for District 4, considering that we only hear mention of the same handful of neighborhoods. Whereas our current representative has been good for some, I seek to be better for all residents. My vision to be an inclusive leader means I seek to build more strategic relationships with leaders within the Latinx community and LGBTQ community to mend the socio-economic divides within these two specific populations. Moreover, members of the immigrant community are being targeted and intimidated without the advocacy and oversight they need to feel safe in our district. Particularly along the Getwell and Perkins corridors, this district has a strong presence of undocumented immigrants. All residents, regardless of their citizen status, deserve to be treated with basic dignities and feel safe in our city.

 

We have a lot of work to do over the next 4 years and need to move with a sense of urgency to secure our students, families, workers, and small businesses. The good news is that we have a dynamic district that with some organizing can be noteworthy in our great city.

 
Candidate for endorsement

Theryn C. Bond

Office Sought?
Have you taken the Memphis For All pledge?

Memphis City Council, District 6

Yes.

What are your Top 5 priorities from the Memphis for All issues if elected?

Racial Equity, Women's Rights, Living Wage, Reliable Public Transit, Healthcare

How are you already working on these issues for all Memphians?

Sharing my voice and advocating as issues arise locally, statewide, and federally. Speaking up in front of elected officials and legislative bodies regarding these issues. Organizing in a professional capacity regarding healthcare and women’s rights. Sharing my personal story regarding healthcare.

Tell us more about your campaign platform, and how you plan to achieve a vision for Memphis that is truly founded in equality, solidarity, liberty and justice for all.

My platform is set around Top 6 Issues Transit, Community (Centers), Accessibility, First Responders, Crime, and Smart Development. I plan to work with likely minded community members and elected officials as well as educating and persuading those who think differently around improving community police relations by establishing and rebuilding trust, holding people accountable, maintains a direct pipeline of communication between electeds and community members, developing real solutions and not just talking points.

 
Candidate for endorsement

Davin Clemons

Office Sought?
Have you taken the Memphis For All pledge?

Memphis City Council District 6

Yes.

What are your Top 5 priorities from the Memphis for All issues if elected?

Women's Rights, Unions & Workers' Rights, Reliable Public Transit, Quality Public Schools, Criminal Justice Reform

How are you already working on these issues for all Memphians?

As the first Black LGBTQ liaison for the Memphis Police Department, I worked collaboratively with stakeholders throughout our city to ensure that practices were instituted relative to the handling of issues involving members of the LGBT community. This experience has required me to work alongside and effectively with our local police association as we tackle issues pertaining to equal pay, crime reduction and community engagement with varying levels of the Police community. As an alumnus of Legacy Memphis City Schools and a member of the LeMoyne Owen College alumni association, I understand what an effective relationship between colleges and PK-12 institutions looks like and must be for a fair and equitable Memphis; through my local non-profit, The Cathedral Foundation, I work within low income communities to provide clothing, college and career readiness seminars and health screenings to people within our community that fall within the lowest socio-economic bracket. It is vital to the success of our city that these types of wrap-around services are provided to all citizens without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. As an advocate for LGBT rights, I work effectively alongside members of the reproductive justice community (such as SISTER Reach led by Cherisse Scott) to ensure that a woman's choice remains just the that, #HERchoice. Lastly, a word on a connected Memphis; as Memphis continues its boom, one of the greatest fears of a citizen is the inability to afford to live within a community that they love. If chosen to lead, I will continue to work to increase community based policing objectives which enhance our ability to have connected communities. By ensuring that our communities remain affordable with transportation that connects all communities, we will ensure that Memphis continues to have the flavor, culture and vast melting-pot effect that it has had for the last sixty years.

Tell us more about your campaign platform, and how you plan to achieve a vision for Memphis that is truly founded in equality, solidarity, liberty and justice for all.

Good jobs, vocational training opportunities, and development that prioritizes hiring and benefits for city residents. Memphis has come a long way on crime, but we still have a long way to go. My philosophy is that one of the first things we need to do to to achieve all of the aforementioned objectives is to combat crime from a community focused perspective. I also think we’ve got to figure out how to get people who have gotten stuck in a life integrated back into the fabric of our community . To cut back on recidivism, I think we’ve got to give people a chance to get into the workforce. I’d like to see us implement a “ban the box” program to eliminate disclosure of criminal record on job applications for people who have paid their debt and served their time. We’ve got to really think about our homelessness issue. It’s not just a safety question but it’s a moral one, and we could do a lot more to help keep people off the streets. Memphis needs a shelter people can access without having to panhandle to pay an entry fee for one thing, and we need expanded options for the people who our shelters currently won’t take. To do that we need to work with the non-profit and philanthropic community, as well as our existing institutions and service agencies. And we need to have services for especially vulnerable populations—women and children, teens, LGBT youth, people dealing with mental health issues. I don’t want to put the brakes on the exciting momentum our city has right now, but I want to make sure we’re all on board. Working with business partners, I’d like to see us have more jobs guarantees for Memphis residents and our trades and craft unions; commitments to affordable housing set-asides; good wages and benefits. And I want to make sure that we’re connecting our students in the school system to the jobs that are being created in our community.

Candidate for endorsement

Michalyn Easter-Thomas

Office Sought?
Have you taken the Memphis For All pledge?

City Council District 7

Yes.

What are your Top 5 priorities from the Memphis for All issues if elected?

Living Wage, Reliable Public Transit, Affordable Housing, Fair Voting, Criminal Justice Reform

How are you already working on these issues for all Memphians?

Creating pathways to the participatory budget process and conducting the voter education project within my organization Our Grass Our Roots.

Tell us more about your campaign platform, and how you plan to achieve a vision for Memphis that is truly founded in equality, solidarity, liberty and justice for all.

In order to achieve this vision I plan to consistently request input and feedback from various groups: neighbors, labor organizations, disenfranchised groups, in order to include their voices in my decisions in local government. I will work towards the City Council acknowledging these voices in the awarding of resources, contracts, and new projects in the city.

 
 
Candidate for endorsement

Will "The Underdog" Richardson

Office Sought?
Have you taken the Memphis For All pledge?

City Council District 7

Yes.

What are your Top 5 priorities from the Memphis for All issues if elected?

Racial Equity, Living Wage, Healthcare, Reproductive Justice, Fair Voting

How are you already working on these issues for all Memphians?

For over 13 years I have employed Memphians and have taken pride in making sure our employees have a living wage. As a business owner in the healthcare field, I've gone to bat to make sure not only our employees but Tennesseans in general have affordable and quality healthcare. I have pushed for racial equity by empowering and teaching young men and women in the community to get involved in entrepreneurship.

Tell us more about your campaign platform, and how you plan to achieve a vision for Memphis that is truly founded in equality, solidarity, liberty and justice for all.

As City Councilman I will go to bat for the Underdogs of Memphis. Education and exposure to opportunity is a key component to achieving this. I will work to bridge the gap between law enforcement and community. I will be at the center of discussions of race and equality ensuring that all are at the table to discuss ideas that can improve our communities.

 
Candidate for endorsement

JB Smiley Jr.

Office Sought?

Memphis City Council Super District 8 Position 1

Have you taken the Memphis For All pledge?

Yes.

What are your Top 5 priorities from the Memphis for All issues if elected?

Racial Equity, Healthcare, Reproductive Justice, Criminal Justice Reform, Democratic Rights

How are you already working on these issues for all Memphians?

Racial Equity/Criminal Justice Reform

As a practicing attorney, a large base of my clientele are immigrants and African Americans. Several of my clients are/were afraid to assert their rights in fear that they would be treated unfairly by the legal system. As such, most days, whether it is a client meeting or in a courtroom setting, I use my expertise to help my clients understand the law so that their lack of knowledge does not lead to further marginalization. By properly informing my clients on a day-to-day basis, they are able to confidently assert their rights in a civil courtroom setting, which usually leads to financial compensation and/or in the criminal setting defending alleged allegations of wrongdoing. Effectively representing the marginalized and disenfranchised populations, closes the gap of racial inequity.

In addition to my day-to-day practice, I serve as a volunteer for several legal clinics throughout the city and as a panelist in which I informed those in attendance of their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Healthcare/Reproductive Justice
An effective advocate is not only passionate but informed. In 2017, I began to research and review studies that were conducted in and around Memphis. A study by Shelby County Health Department in collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Health was more alarming than the others. It noted, people who live in 38106/38126 and the surrounding areas die, on average, 13 years sooner than people in wealthier neighborhoods. More specifically, the data illuminated the fact that residents in the combined 38106/38126 zip codes will die at 68.7 years of age on average, compared with those in Collierville's 38017 who will live to see 81.6 years on average. The study also discussed in-depth the causes for the disparity and at the forefront of the list was poverty and the lack of access to healthcare.

This study propelled me into action. As a result, I spearheaded the first annual Community Resource Fair at Gaston Community Center, which is located in the heart of 38106, where we made doctors, nurses, psychologists, and dentists available free of charge to anyone who walked through the doors of Gaston Community Center. Additionally, after learning that approximately 100% of the children born in 38126 in 2016 were to single-parent homes, we partnered with the Step Ahead Foundation, which aims to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing free long-acting reversible contraception, during the Community Resource Fair.

Democratic Rights
As a former member of the Grassroots Council for the Shelby County Democratic Party (DGC), my work as it relates to democratic rights and the democratic process is ongoing. As an active member of the DGC, I worked to organize my Commission District and bringing forth constituent issues to the executive committee. In addition to that, my commission district has one of the lowest voting turnouts in the entire county. As such, I have made it my mission to not only register new voters but be sure they turnout on election day. Also, as the Vice President of the Shelby County Young Democrats, we aim to recruit candidates, educate the voters, and be sure that the elected officials have an opportunity to engage their constituents. Our ultimate goal is to increase millennial engagement in the political process.

Tell us more about your campaign platform, and how you plan to achieve a vision for Memphis that is truly founded in equality, solidarity, liberty and justice for all.

Neighborhood Investment
For Super District 8, I will offer a comprehensive vision for community planning that leaves no neighborhood behind. We will continue the incredible revitalization that is happening in Downtown Memphis – but with greater transparency between the community and developers to further meet resident needs.
I will ensure that constituents in Whitehaven, Midtown, East, North and South Memphis feel the impact of revitalization in our parks, shopping centers, and throughout our blighted neighborhoods. Quality restaurants and vibrant entertainment districts attract small businesses, improve overall property values, and preserve resident pride.
Our community organizations throughout Super District 8 will be granted the necessary tools and support to fulfill missions that speak directly to the needs of the constituents.
Lastly, I’ll work relentlessly to ensure that no resident in Super District 8 is forced to travel more than one mile to access fresh, affordable, and healthy food to feed their families.

Criminal Justice/ Criminal Justice Reform
Our money bail system ignores that every person arrested is “innocent until proven guilty.” It also disenfranchises people of color and those from low-income areas. Still, in Memphis, we lock up thousands of individuals every year and hold them until they can pay multi-thousand dollar bails – only to later drop charges or label them “not guilty.” These individuals often lose jobs, fall behind on bills, and even lose their children while trapped behind bars and unable to pay high-dollar bails. As City Councilman, I will fight to use more appropriate tactics for having the accused show up for their day in court.

Additionally, a lot of resources are spent to identify the problems in Memphis but not enough resources are given to create the needed solutions. I will work with and support the experts in the field to develop and implement solutions.

Community-Focused Business Plan
I will work to recruit good corporate citizens throughout the City. I will fight for a livable wage and comprehensive benefits for the employees at every company that pursues a tax break in Memphis. I will also stand against negligent dumping, neighborhood pollutants, and wasteful use of natural resources. Current and future small businesses will discover a network of financial and professional support to help grow and maintain the businesses that are the foundation of our district.
Under my leadership, Super District 8 will see a network of businesses that are truly focused on being a complement to the families that live, work, and play in our city.

Youth Empowerment & Education
As children advance through the education system, I will fight to ensure that the Shelby County School system receives necessary financial support from the City of Memphis.
I will also fight to save (and expand) programs that teach technology, creative art, and life skills in traditional schools right in our neighborhoods so that parents don’t have to travel across town for a quality education.
Lastly, I will work hand-in-hand with the organizations that offer wrap-around support to families and after-hours opportunities to youth to instill a positive relationship with learning and critical thinking that will prepare our children for college and/or a career after graduation.

 

Candidate for endorsement

Frank W. Johnson

Office Sought?
Have you taken the Memphis For All pledge?

City Council Super District 8 Position 2

Yes.

What are your Top 5 priorities from the Memphis for All issues if elected?

Racial Equity, Women's Rights, LGBTQ Rights, Sanctuary for Immigrants, Living Wage, Unions & Workers' Rights, Reliable Public Transit, Affordable Housing, Healthcare, Quality Public Schools, Clean Water, Reproductive Justice, Fair Voting, Criminal Justice Reform, Big Money Out of Politics, Democratic Rights

How are you already working on these issues for all Memphians?

I am working for environmental justice. Memphis has a history of contamination that has lead to generations of Memphians suffering from health issues and behavioral disorders that dont get diagnosed. They have gone through school being labelled as "problem children" when in reality, their minds and body have been harm and they have no real control. They get older and come into contact with the criminal justice system and lose there rights as citizens. They get left behind by our system that has never cared for their well being.

Tell us more about your campaign platform, and how you plan to achieve a vision for Memphis that is truly founded in equality, solidarity, liberty and justice for all.

My campaign is catered to addressing the real problems of Memphis. Poverty still the biggest issue and it lead to so many other problems. I am looking to do reinvestments in communities by acknowledging the history of contamination in Memphis and allowing people to get help. This will include lead testing and updating out infrastructure to remove lead pipes and remodel old homes to remove lead paint, asbestos and other contaminates so we don't have to worry about people being forced out of their homes and communities.I will also invest in block grants to allow people inside of the city to upgrades homes making them eco friendly while making the community environmentally safe. On education, i will seek funding to shrink class sizes back down so our students don't have to suffer in old over crowed building. Invest in teachers aides, counselors for mental and psychological as well fight the state in regards to exessful testing and oppressive laws that punish our teachers. I will also revisit the PILOT and TIFF programs. Instead of giving all these tax incentives to businesses from the outside to come in, we allow small minority business to take advantage of these incentives so they can expand and hire more people.

 
 
Candidate for endorsement

Erika Sugarmon

Office Sought?
Have you taken the Memphis For All pledge?

City Council, Super District 9, 1

Yes.

What are your Top 5 priorities from the Memphis for All issues if elected?

Unions & Workers' Rights, Reliable Public Transit, Affordable Housing, Healthcare, Criminal Justice Reform

How are you already working on these issues for all Memphians?

I'm going out into the community meeting with various groups to discern their needs. For example, I have found that there are many non profits who are doing the work but the people are not aware of their services. I have also found there is a need for more vocational programs. As a result, I have reached out to state legislators to make them aware of the issue to garner support and additional funding. I constantly assessing the needs of the people so that I can advocate for the various communities when I'm on the council.

Tell us more about your campaign platform, and how you plan to achieve a vision for Memphis that is truly founded in equality, solidarity, liberty and justice for all.

I see, in District 9, a shortage of good paying jobs, ineffective public transportation, and the limited access and lack of equity for small businesses as major hindrances in our current economic climate in Memphis.
I will push for increased funding for the proven programs in our vocational schools that provide the necessary skill sets needed in today's economy.
I will champion for improved public transportation throughout our city to ensure fair access to jobs & educational opportunities for the citizens in District 9.
I will also expand incentives to small businesses and simplify access to established city programs to help them grow AND thrive; so they can be a source of job creation for an economically stronger Memphis.

Candidate for endorsement

Mauricio Calvo

Office Sought?
Have you taken the Memphis For All pledge?

City Council, Super District 9

Yes.

What are your Top 5 priorities from the Memphis for All issues if elected?

Racial Equity, Reliable Public Transit, Affordable Housing, Quality Public Schools, Fair Voting

How are you already working on these issues for all Memphians?

I personally, and therefore my campaign, align with all the values listed above. As the leader of Latino Memphis, I have worked in initiatives that support the progress of this agenda. All items are important, some will take longer than others to achieve, particularly because State law often preemptive us from certain actions (i.e. living wage, sanctuary cities). As a member of the City Council I would act in support of policies that ultimately positively impact the majority of Memphians, always keeping in mind those most vulnerable. As an elected official, I would use the my position to be a voice at the State level to advocate for change.

Tell us more about your campaign platform, and how you plan to achieve a vision for Memphis that is truly founded in equality, solidarity, liberty and justice for all.

We are calling it the UPportunity campaign. Our City needs fresh and bold leadership that can bring people together and have a vision for prosperity and opportunity for all its residents. Every Memphian, regardless of race, zip code, orientation, economic status or documentation should have the opportunity to upward mobility. This will be a long term process and one where we will often have to compromise and experiment. We are making progress, but much more needs to be done. It is unacceptable that 1 in 4 Memphians live in poverty.

 

Contact: 

Phone: 901-209-1025

Email: info@memphisforall.com