2023 BLDG Memphis Candidate Questionnaire - Mayoral Candidate Responses

Strong leaders support strong neighborhoods. BLDG Memphis along with our members will host a nonpartisan candidate forum in the lead up to the City of Memphis Mayoral election in October. The questions posed to the candidates during the forum will focus on issues of neighborhood investment. Prior to the event on July 27, candidates submitted a questionnaire responding to questions related to affordable housing, transit & mobility, parks and libraries,` and racial equity.

Here are the responses from candidates running for Memphis Mayor. Also check out our Memphis Mayor Voter Guide, which rates each Candidate Questionnaire response according to a Best Practices Rubric designed with our members' best practices in mind.

Neighborhood Equity and Social Justice

Low-income & Black and Brown neighborhoods are historically undervalued, under-resourced, and disinvested across America and in Memphis. Equitable community revitalization efforts must address systemic inequalities that hinder neighborhoods from thriving and center the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

How would your administration drive equitable investment in Memphis neighborhoods? What methods would be used and how would you engage Memphians in this process?

Mayoral Candidate Responses

Kendra Calico: Economic inclusion to organizations that have been restricted due to age, gender or any other discrimination factors.

Karen Camper: This is a complex problem that requires multi-faceted solutions. My first initiative would be providing a fund that would be dedicated to revitalizing dilapidated and abandoned properties as well as vacant lots in historically black and marginalized communities. Developers and community members alike could apply for funding under conditions that they would renovate the property or build on the vacant lots single family dwellings that would then be sold at affordable housing rates. This would be a start to revitalizing the neighborhoods as well as encouraging home ownership. The city will need to engage with government entities and private banking interests to work with community members that are sub prime applicants that are interested in home ownership to ensure that these homes become long term investments back into the communities and not just rental properties. I will work to ensure that property tax rates for current owners are capped at their current rate so that residents who currently own their properties are not burdened with higher rates which could force them out. A Camper administration will also work with the state and federal government to activate small business loans and grants for community members who want to start their own businesses that comprise the commercial corridors in these neighborhoods. These funds would allow for community members to establish small grocery stores, dry cleaning, restaurants, auto shops, or other endeavors that will provide access for residents to shopping and other commercial outlets.

George Flinn: My campaign is narrowly focused on Attacking Crime in Memphis. Solving the crime problem that we have will allow a natural and sustainable community revitalization. As the hypothetical administration, I would prioritize driving equitable investment in Memphis neighborhoods to address historical inequalities and promote social justice. Here are some methods and strategies that would be employed: Community Engagement and Empowerment: The first step would be to engage directly with the residents of low-income and Black and Brown neighborhoods to understand their needs, concerns, and aspirations. Town hall meetings, community forums, and surveys would be conducted to gather input and feedback from Memphians. The administration would actively listen to the voices of the community and involve them in decision-making processes. Equitable Funding Allocation: The administration would work to allocate funds and resources in a manner that prioritizes historically marginalized neighborhoods. Investment decisions would be made based on data-driven assessments of neighborhood needs, ensuring that areas with the greatest disparities receive adequate attention and funding. Collaboration with Community-Based Organizations: Partnering with local grassroots organizations and non-profits that have a strong presence and understanding of the community would be crucial. These organizations would serve as essential intermediaries between the administration and the residents, helping to implement programs and initiatives that align with the community's priorities. Affordable Housing and Homeownership Support: Addressing housing affordability and promoting homeownership among residents would be a central focus. Initiatives to increase access to affordable housing, provide financial literacy workshops, and create opportunities for low-income families to build generational wealth through homeownership would be implemented. Small Business Support: The administration would encourage entrepreneurship in underserved neighborhoods by offering resources and support to small businesses. This could include grants, low-interest loans, and business development programs to help boost local economies and create job opportunities. Education and Workforce Development: Investing in education and workforce development is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty. The administration would work to improve access to quality education, job training, and career development programs, particularly in underserved areas. Infrastructure Improvement: Upgrading and maintaining infrastructure in these neighborhoods is vital for residents' quality of life. Projects focusing on transportation, parks, community centers, and public spaces would be prioritized to enhance the overall living conditions. Transparency and Accountability: Throughout the process, the administration would maintain transparency, regularly communicate progress, and be accountable for the allocation and impact of funds. Regular assessments and evaluations would be conducted to ensure that the investments are having a positive effect on the targeted neighborhoods. Equitable Development Policies: The administration would work with city officials and stakeholders to review and update development policies to ensure that they promote equity and do not perpetuate historical injustices. Overall, the administration's approach would be centered on fostering collaboration, involving the community at every stage of the decision-making process, and continuously evaluating the effectiveness of investments to ensure they address systemic inequalities and empower the residents of Memphis neighborhoods.

JW Gibson: My administration will create a framework that defines the overall needs of our City, and will seek to address those across the community. I will also create a Neighborhood Input Council comprised of representatives from each state district. This Council will offer input on the needs of each represented neighborhood. We will work to identify organizations within those neighborhoods that the City Administration, as well as regional and national investors can partner with to provide needed investments. To the extent there are not sufficient organizations, we will support the creation of those that can do the work.

Reggie Hall: I’m going to push for Social Impact Funding and establish a bridge between wealth and sweat equity by providing opportunities for people to invest their time and resources into the community. While enabling underserved and financially vulnerable people to access strategies that help achieve financial independence. Strategic planning that connects low- income people with jobs and the skills necessary to succeed in a changing labor market, creating new opportunities for workers to succeed.

James Harvey: The Harvey Administration would source any and all federal & state funding, available to and for underserved communities. Our administration would perform a needs analysis and would develop a community engagement outreach plan in order to allow participation from and by the community affected. We would also rely on surveys from the community. Create a consortium of planners, investors, and developers, to determine the who, how, and when, regarding the equitable investment demand of a particular neighborhood in need for equitable change. The Harvey administration would focus highly on a Comprehensive Plan that would include an anchor business model that support the needs of the community, and the sustainability of the community for both businesses and residence. Examples include; public transportation, shopping, medical sites, community police, beautiful landscapes, ect...

Michelle McKissack: Memphis is an incredible city with outstanding assets like our healthcare and life sciences industry, transportation, logistics and distribution industry, arts, music, and culture, and our civil rights legacy and the National Civil Rights Museum. However, many of the city’s assets have yet to be fully leveraged to generate more jobs and economic growth; grow small businesses and entrepreneurship; and attract new business and corporate headquarters. As Mayor, I will work with community CDCs, the Memphis Chamber of Commerce, Memphis Tomorrow, the Black Business Alliance, our university and colleges, and Memphis Shelby County Schools and other organizations to better align and coordinate our city’s assets with high-growth industries, job training, skills building, entrepreneurship development, monetization of research innovation, and private equity investments.

Brandy Price: You must address the problem at it source. The source of the problem is the land has been stolen. There needs to be a land back initiative. The land needs to be given directly to native and indigenous Memphians. Our nation has not yet atoned for of the sins of slavery, Red lining, and stolen wealth. All separate cases for reparations and restitution. The history of Memphis politics have laid the foundation for a global system of oppression. We need a council for reparations and restitutions, whose members are made of rotating citizens who sit on the board for at least a year. They are selected as you would jury duty and the qualifications are that they are black native and indigenous Memphians.

Justina Ragland: The three points I would look for in investors. First, I will need to see its ESG, Secondly, are you mid-cap company. Then, thirdly will you go with capital structure. I will make sure my team has the right sustainalytics and database. I will compare these analytical to other database and platform. I will make sure we are diversing into nationwide tradeshows. Now, I engaging Memphians with the style of the Infrastructure they want to see in the community.

Tekeva Shaw: My administration would drive equitable investments in Memphis neighborhoods by using current resources, gifts, and talents.

Derek Winn: Abolish zoning. I wouldn't, I would be Mayor and I would be exercising political power given to me by the people of the United States. If you don't like what we do, cool story, come down to the City Council meetings and let us know how you feel, there are 2 every month, you get two minutes.

Paul Young: As the mayor of Memphis, I am committed to driving equitable investment in our neighborhoods. To achieve this, my administration will employ a multifaceted approach. First and foremost, we will center the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and other diverse communities in the decision-making processes. We will actively engage Memphians through community meetings, town halls, and online platforms to ensure their perspectives are heard and integrated into our plans. We will also leverage public-private partnerships to attract investment in under-resourced neighborhoods. By collaborating with local businesses, philanthropic organizations, and community development financial institutions, we can create innovative funding mechanisms that support economic development, affordable housing initiatives, small business growth, and job creation in these communities. Furthermore, my administration will prioritize equitable access to essential services, such as quality education, healthcare, and transportation, in underserved neighborhoods. We will work closely with community organizations and service providers to identify gaps and implement targeted programs and initiatives that address the specific needs of each neighborhood. This will involve expanding affordable housing options, improving public transportation connectivity, increasing access to healthcare facilities, and supporting local businesses through incentives and capacity-building programs.


Research proves that access to healthy and affordable housing is key to thriving neighborhoods. However, in Memphis, properties in the urban core are historically devalued, owned by disinterested out of town investors, and there is a shortage of quality affordable housing units to meet the needs of homeowners and renters. While the City of Memphis has established the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to address housing needs and barriers of Memphis residents, it does not have a designated funding source.

What innovative strategies would you advocate for in order to increase resources for non-profit developers and Community Development Corporations (CDCs) for acquisition, development, and maintenance of quality affordable housing units across Memphis and Shelby County?

Mayoral Candidate Responses

Kendra Calico: Private Foundations and charities could be used as a sufficient source for community development for housing units.

Karen Camper: One possible avenue would be to engage with the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust. This HIT is a mutual fund which finances affordable development. HIT offers construction-to-permanent financing, forward commitments and tax credit equity bridge loans.Terms are typically 24 to 48 months (fixed or SOFR-based) for construction loans and up to 40 years for permanent loans, including partial interest-only. This also ensures that union contractors and union labor (meaning fair wages and benefits) will be utilized in the construction of these developments.Another opportunity are public private partnerships that provide funding and investment to development and redevelopment that includes residential services such as healthcare, digital access and wealth creation. Construction investment will be returned by the use of these services that will be easily accessible to residents in the neighborhoods.My last thought is to engage with ESG (Environmental, Social, Governmental) funds that are seeking opportunities to fund projects with a focus on developments that are sustainable and improve the social fabric of communities that have been left behind. By utilizing these funding opportunities we can not only create affordable housing but also communities that are cleaner, healthier and sustainable.

George Flinn: While I am narrowly focused on Attacking crime, the strategies for quality affordable housing would be addressed by increasing resources for non-profit developers and Community Development Corporations (CDCs) for the acquisition, development, and maintenance of quality affordable housing units across Memphis and Shelby County, the hypothetical administration would advocate for the following innovative strategies:Establish a Dedicated Funding Source: One of the primary steps would be to work with local legislators and stakeholders to establish a dedicated funding source for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. This could be achieved through a variety of means, such as a real estate transfer tax, impact fees, or a portion of property tax revenues. Having a stable and consistent funding source would allow non-profit developers and CDCs to plan and execute long-term projects effectively.Public-Private Partnerships: Foster partnerships between the public sector, private investors, and non-profit developers/CDCs. Encourage private companies and philanthropic organizations to contribute to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and participate in funding affordable housing projects. These partnerships could provide a significant boost to available resources.Tax Incentives for Affordable Housing Development: Introduce tax incentives for developers who invest in affordable housing projects. These incentives could include property tax abatements, reduced development fees, or tax credits for constructing or rehabilitating affordable housing units. Such incentives would encourage private developers to get involved in the development of affordable housing.Land Use and Zoning Policies: Implement land use and zoning policies that prioritize affordable housing development in the urban core and other underserved neighborhoods. This could involve designating certain areas for affordable housing projects and streamlining the approval process for developers seeking to build affordable units.Inclusionary Zoning: Consider adopting inclusionary zoning policies that require a certain percentage of new residential developments to include affordable housing units. This policy would create a steady supply of affordable housing options throughout the city.Low-Interest Loans and Grants: Offer low-interest loans and grants to non-profit developers and CDCs to support the acquisition and development of affordable housing projects. These financial resources would help reduce upfront costs and make it financially feasible for organizations to take on such initiatives.Housing Preservation Efforts: In addition to new construction, prioritize housing preservation efforts. This could involve providing financial assistance and incentives to help homeowners in distressed areas maintain and repair their homes, preventing further deterioration of the housing stock.Capacity Building and Technical Assistance: Provide capacity building and technical assistance to non-profit developers and CDCs to enhance their ability to undertake affordable housing projects successfully. This could include training on project management, financial planning, and navigating the development process.Community Land Trusts: Encourage the creation and expansion of community land trusts, where land is held collectively by a nonprofit organization to ensure it remains affordable and accessible for long-term community benefit.Data-Driven Decision Making: Utilize data to identify areas of high need for affordable housing and to evaluate the impact of implemented strategies. This data-driven approach would help allocate resources effectively and assess the success of initiatives over time.By employing these innovative strategies, the administration can create a more robust and sustainable framework for addressing the affordable housing crisis in Memphis, ultimately leading to increased access to healthy and affordable housing for all residents.

JW Gibson: I will create a grant writing function in the City Administration that will seek local, state and federal dollars to leverage the City's Affordable Housing Trust Fund. We will engage local realtors to get involved with affordable housing development to create collaborative efforts with CDCs. We will create a format similar to the locally-owned small business program whereby local developers and CDCs can buy vacant City owned properties, Blight Authority of Memphis (BAM) properties and land banked properties. We will offer developer certification workshops for realtors and CDCs whereby upon successful completion, they will be qualified developers, again, encouraging collaborations between the two. The goals and objectives would be to limit out of state acquisitions, create a diverse base of organizations focused on affordable housing, and to raise property values as well as putting more properties on the tax roll without creating gentrification.

Reggie Hall: As mayor my focus would be on strategically revitalizing Memphis’ urban sector in partnership with the City, community leaders, and the corporate community.

James Harvey: The Harvey administration would ideally, hire the best HCD administrator for the Housing Community Development department, with a background in public housing and development, with the goal in mind of addressing all of the middle to lower income housing challenges in Memphis. Moreover, as Mayor i would support incentivizing Non-profit Developers, and Community Development Corporations to assist in revitalizing specific areas underserved. The Harvey administration would work diligently with the LandBank and the community residence to establish ownership incentives and optional homeownership opportunities. The Harvey administration would lobby to streamline and modify the rules for out of town investors whom take little interest in our city & neighborhoods. Finally, seek all federal and state funding sources for funding maintenance and other housing related cost to cure situations and circumstances.

Michelle McKissack: Everyone in Memphis deserves to have a roof over their head. This is fundamental to keeping our neighborhoods safe and strong. We need a united Memphis where all individuals and families live in sustainable, self-sufficient, and safe communities. All Memphis neighborhoods need to be connected to Greater Memphis while maintaining their distinct culture. Whitehaven, Midtown and Frayser are examples of thriving communities in our city. However, we must focus on equity, affordable housing, and environmentally safe neighborhoods. As Mayor, with my Whole City Memphis plan, I will directly address poverty, economic, racial and environmental injustice that creates dysfunction in far too many communities in Memphis by implementing the following: Create policies and incentives to encourage the construction of affordable homes and apartments, as well as the preservation of existing affordable housing units. Promote transit-oriented development (TOD) as a means to connect housing with transportation options. TOD encourages the construction of housing near public transit stations, allowing residents to have convenient access to public transportation and reducing reliance on cars. Drive Neighborhood Revitalization by improving housing conditions, attracting investment, and promoting community development. This involves rehabilitating existing housing stock, encouraging infill development, and creating vibrant and livable neighborhoods. Promote Equitable Housing Policies by addressing historical inequities in housing by promoting non-discriminatory practices, supporting inclusive housing policies, and providing resources for housing assistance programs. Support Housing Choice and Diversity by offering a range of housing choices to accommodate different household sizes and lifestyles including single-family homes, townhouses, apartments, and accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Reduce the cost to develop affordable housing by waiving fees for new affordable housing buildings, and fast-track zoning and building approvals so that affordable housing projects jump to the front of the queue. Form partnerships with community land trusts, non-profit and mission-driven developers, and small landlords in communities of color. Transfer vacant properties facing tax foreclosure to community-based non-profit developers who can preserve them as affordable housing. Require proactive building inspections once every five years. Landlords would then be required to fix any health or safety violations within a reasonable time frame, reducing tenant exposure to harmful chemicals like lead paint. Publish an online landlord registry, allowing tenants to see information about the building’s owner, contact information and outstanding violations at their building.

Brandy Price: Why are we assuming that the nonprofit industrial complex is key to fighting this problem? There were Solutions to the housing crisis in America but a lot of black, brown, and indigenous people got left out. When need to end discriminating housing policies.

Justina Ragland: I will Implement transponder or toll 1/4 of the funds will go to Infrastructure. Infrastructure will be split into two different ways . One, construction of community and two infrastructure of highway and roads.

Tekeva Shaw: One strategy would be forming committees and reenergizing neighborhood watch while being creative with civic engagement.

Derek Winn: The correct answer to this question is abolish zoning.

Paul Young: To increase resources for non-profit developers and Community Development Corporations in acquiring, developing, and maintaining quality affordable housing units, we must pursue innovative strategies. One approach is to advocate for a dedicated funding source for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which I was responsible for establishing during my time as Director of Memphis Housing & Community Development. By securing a reliable stream of funding, we can ensure that non-profit developers and CDCs have the necessary resources to address the housing needs of Memphis residents effectively.Furthermore, my administration will actively seek partnerships with private developers to promote mixed-income developments that include affordable housing components. By incentivizing developers to incorporate affordable units in their projects, we can create more opportunities for low-income individuals and families to access safe and affordable housing options. We will also explore creative financing mechanisms, such as tax credits and land trust models, to support the development and preservation of affordable housing units across Memphis and Shelby County.As the head of Community Development, this is precisely the work I facilitated that made me most proud. I have long been committed to the development of quality affordable housing, having led initiatives that have delivered hundreds of quality affordable units to the city of Memphis. I look forward to increasing and scaling that work to provide access to housing as Mayor.

Mobility and Pedestrian Safety

The Memphis region ranks as the one of the deadliest metros in the country for walking. Even since the Covid-19 pandemic, fatalities and serious injuries to pedestrians continue to rise. In 2022, a total of 86 people lost their lives while walking and biking in Memphis. As of June 26th, 2023, Memphis has seen 26 more cyclist and pedestrian fatalities.

In lieu of these statistics, what actions will your administration make to ensure less people die while walking and biking within the city of Memphis?

Mayoral Candidate Responses

Kendra Calico: Increase monitoring and video surveillance levels.

Karen Camper: This is both a public safety and built environment issue. I will work with Memphis City Council to put in place ordinances that have severe consequences for vehicle operators that are participating in street racing and reckless driving. As Mayor, I will convene a working group of stakeholders and experts from across the community on how to improve our built environment. This means creating more urban greenspace, creating road diets that shrink streets and slow traffic, incorporate dedicated bike lanes, and creating pedestrian friendly zones centered around commercial areas in neighborhoods that emphasize walking or cycling as the most viable transportation options. Not only will these measures create better safety outcomes but it has been proven that more walkable cities increase economic development and growth than ones that are focused on expanding car based transportation.

George Flinn: Reducing pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in Memphis would be a top priority (after Attacking Crime in Memphis) for the hypothetical administration. To achieve this, several actions would be taken to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety within the city:Comprehensive Safety Assessment: Conduct a comprehensive safety assessment of high-risk areas for pedestrians and cyclists. This would involve analyzing traffic patterns, accident data, and infrastructure deficiencies to identify the most dangerous locations.Invest in Infrastructure: Allocate funds for the development and improvement of pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure. This includes building and maintaining safe sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and pedestrian-friendly intersections. The goal would be to create a connected network that prioritizes the safety of non-motorized transportation.Traffic Calming Measures: Implement traffic calming measures in residential neighborhoods and busy streets. Techniques such as speed humps, traffic circles, and raised crosswalks can help reduce vehicle speeds and make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.Public Awareness Campaigns: Launch public awareness campaigns to educate both drivers and pedestrians about the importance of road safety and shared responsibilities. These campaigns would highlight the rules for safe walking and biking, as well as the need for attentive driving behavior.Law Enforcement and Traffic Enforcement: Collaborate with law enforcement agencies to increase enforcement efforts focused on traffic violations that endanger pedestrians and cyclists. Strict enforcement of traffic laws will help deter reckless driving and improve safety.Safer School Routes: Work with local schools to identify and improve safe routes for students walking or biking to school. Implementing crossing guards and improving infrastructure around schools can significantly enhance safety for young pedestrians.Community Engagement: Involve the community in identifying safety concerns and potential solutions. Engaging with local residents, community organizations, and advocacy groups will ensure that safety initiatives reflect the needs and perspectives of those who use the streets most.Data-Driven Decision Making: Utilize data on traffic accidents, fatalities, and near-miss incidents to inform decision-making and prioritize interventions. By analyzing trends and patterns, the administration can allocate resources effectively to address the most critical areas.Complete Streets Policy: Adopt a Complete Streets policy that ensures transportation planning and design consider the needs of all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation users. This approach would promote safer and more accessible streets for everyone.Safe Routes to Schools Program: Implement a Safe Routes to Schools program to encourage more children to walk or bike to school safely. This would involve improving infrastructure and promoting pedestrian safety around educational institutions.Data Collection and Reporting: Enhance data collection and reporting mechanisms for pedestrian and cyclist accidents. This would facilitate ongoing monitoring and evaluation of safety initiatives, allowing for timely adjustments if necessary.By implementing these actions, the administration would strive to make Memphis a safer and more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly city, significantly reducing the number of fatalities and serious injuries associated with walking and biking. Continuous monitoring and collaboration with stakeholders would ensure that safety improvements are effective and sustainable over time.

JW Gibson: I will expand pedestrian and cyclist lanes and protect those lanes with speed bump type barriers. I will also create PSAs and engage in marketing efforts to create greater awareness among the public of protecting the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

Reggie Hall: The optimal solution would be to have a new system that allows for more communities to have access to bike lanes and other infrastructure that would allow people to ride their bikes. Another solution would include new infrastructure that would allow us to build and/or upgrade current low traffic areas and turn them into car free zones, especially near parks, trails, and playgrounds. I would also implement barriers between cars and pedestrian sidewalks in the busiest areas of the city. Lastly, I would encourage our citizens to take advantage of speed bumps in their neighborhoods as well.

James Harvey: The Harvey administration would ensure that the city of Memphis public safety & signs department, have installed clear messaging signs in accordance with engineering. Signage, speed signs, street lanes, bike lanes, walk lanes, turning lanes, lights and traffic signals are all functional and operationally appropriate for our public safety. Stress through advertisement and marketing, by radio and or television, public announcements regarding public safety.

Michelle McKissack: Memphis is a sprawling metropolis and building up a more robust transit system with MATA is a step in the right direction to provide more transportation options. Also, residents here need to be educated on how to better understand the value of bike lanes. Many residents feel bike lanes were thrust upon them without their input and have resentment toward them being there. Education is a big part of making streets safer while also continuing to explore success models in other cities.

Brandy Price: Far too much of our infrastructure is built around cars. We need to reimagine how a city is designed and eventually phase out the car-centered model of how we design our roads. Our Infrastructure needs to be able accommodate the differently abled.

Justina Ragland: There are 2 sectors to our pedestrian and safety laws. The first section is our jaywalking laws . This is where the conflict comes in. The second sector is our our bicyclists and joggers laws. Memphis (Tennessee)bicyclists and joggers laws are the laws that need to be implicated . We will put out a city wide ordinance. Alerting the awarness and the seriousness of this offense. We will make it clear to all driver the repercussions are heavy. Both of these sector will need to go back to city council, as resolutions for legislation. We also need to re-examine what needs to be taught, in driver schools. The laws explicitly need to be explained. To each test taker. Not just Tennessee laws but Memphis laws, as well.

Tekeva Shaw: My administration will inform drivers of these statistics and encourage more citizens to be safer at driving near walkers and cyclists.

Derek Winn: 1. Abolish zoning. 2. Interstate highway removal, we would get rid of the entirety of 69/40, starting in South Memphis and going all the way through Downtown and up into North Memphis. It would be turned into boulevards/biking and walking paths for pedestrians. The next project after that would be completely demolishing the MLK Jr Expressway over the Wolf River. And then redesigning the city to better suit other forms of transport a la Paris, France. I would also listen for grassroots movements from citizens on where they would like vehicle traffic either proscribed or just banned entirely. I have a vision of the area around the start of the green line, Rhodes and Overton Park. Short version, only residents would be allowed to drive and most streets would be one way going in cardinal directions, designed in such a way that residents are able to get out and do things in a car in other parts of the city, but making it relatively difficult to use a motor vehicle for transportation in the super block. This would also mean shutting down vehicle traffic on N Parkway somewhere around Watkins or Bellevue (emergency/service vehicles being the obvious exception in all of these "car banning" scenarios).

Paul Young: To address the high rate of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in Memphis, my administration will take swift and decisive action. We will prioritize investments in pedestrian infrastructure, including sidewalks, crosswalks, and well-lit pathways, to enhance safety and encourage active transportation. We will work closely with transportation experts and community stakeholders to identify high-risk areas and implement targeted improvements that prioritize pedestrian safety. In addition, we will examine where we have the best opportunities for adding bike lanes. Safe and usable bike lanes expand the transportation capabilities of our residents and help make Memphis a more attractive place to live. We will also launch public awareness campaigns to educate both drivers and pedestrians about responsible and safe behaviors on the road. This will involve partnerships with local schools, community organizations, and law enforcement agencies to promote traffic safety education and enforce traffic laws effectively. By fostering a culture of safety and accountability, we can reduce pedestrian fatalities and create a city that prioritizes the well-being of all its residents.


Today there are over 13,000 vacant or blighted properties within the limits of Memphis and Shelby County. An effective strategy to address this issue requires a collaborative approach incorporating the work of government agencies, neighborhood organizations, and especially CDCs. CDCs in Memphis and Shelby County have specialized knowledge, skills, and insight on how to activate parks and green space, convert vacant lots, and develop and manage properties.

How will you collaborate with CDCs, and neighborhood organizations in the design and delivery of programs to address issues of blight and illegal dumping?

Mayoral Candidate Responses

Kendra Calico: Bridge communication and accountability levels for responding in citizens concerns.

Karen Camper: In my experience in public service, I have found that collaboration and partnerships are the foundation of any successful enterprise. My administration will build strong working relationships with CDC’s and neighborhood organizations to create incubators for innovative strategies to address our city’s blight problem. I will work with these entities alongside public and private investment groups to begin the redevelopment and renewal of Memphis and its neighborhoods. On day one, I will put together a working group that will include CDC’s and neighborhood organizations with financial partners that will utilize the expertise of each group to arrive at tailor made solutions for each neighborhood.

George Flinn: Attacking Crime in Memphis would also help address the issue of blight in Memphis. Collaborating with CDCs and neighborhood organizations is essential to effectively address the issues of blight and illegal dumping in Memphis and Shelby County. The hypothetical administration would adopt a collaborative approach that values the expertise and insights of these organizations and actively involves them in the design and delivery of programs. Here's how this collaboration would be fostered:Engaging CDCs and Neighborhood Organizations: The administration would initiate regular meetings and forums with CDCs and neighborhood organizations to foster open communication and collaboration. These gatherings would provide a platform for sharing ideas, concerns, and best practices in blight and illegal dumping remediation.Shared Vision and Goals: Together with CDCs and neighborhood organizations, the administration would develop a shared vision and goals for addressing blight and illegal dumping. By involving these key stakeholders from the outset, the strategy would be more tailored to the unique needs of each community.Capacity Building and Training: The administration would offer capacity-building support and training to CDCs and neighborhood organizations. This could include workshops on property management, grant writing, community engagement, and best practices in sustainable redevelopment.Resource Allocation: To ensure that CDCs and neighborhood organizations can effectively implement blight and illegal dumping programs, the administration would allocate resources and funding to support their efforts. This might include grants, low-interest loans, or technical assistance to help these organizations carry out their initiatives.Data and Information Sharing: The administration would collaborate with CDCs and neighborhood organizations in data collection and information sharing. By sharing data on blighted properties, vacant lots, and dumping hotspots, all parties can make informed decisions and target interventions effectively.Co-Design of Programs: The administration would involve CDCs and neighborhood organizations in the co-design of blight and illegal dumping programs. These organizations have localized knowledge and understanding of community needs, which can greatly contribute to program effectiveness.Community-Led Initiatives: Empower CDCs and neighborhood organizations to take a leading role in community-led initiatives. This could involve giving them greater decision-making authority in designing and implementing programs that directly impact their neighborhoods.Pilot Projects: Work collaboratively with CDCs and neighborhood organizations on pilot projects to test and refine blight and illegal dumping interventions. Learning from these smaller-scale initiatives can inform broader, city-wide strategies.Public Awareness Campaigns: Engage CDCs and neighborhood organizations in public awareness campaigns against illegal dumping. These organizations can be influential advocates in mobilizing residents and fostering a sense of collective responsibility for maintaining clean and safe communities.Recognition and Celebration: Acknowledge the valuable contributions of CDCs and neighborhood organizations publicly. Recognizing their efforts and celebrating successful initiatives can motivate further engagement and inspire other communities to take action.By adopting a collaborative approach that actively involves CDCs and neighborhood organizations, the administration can tap into their specialized knowledge, build community ownership of blight and illegal dumping programs, and foster a sense of shared responsibility in revitalizing neighborhoods throughout Memphis and Shelby County.

JW Gibson: Please see my response to Question 3. I strongly believe that realtors who are essentially entrepreneurs can bring and gain value by collaborating with CDCs and together they can aggressively go after blight.

Reggie Hall: This goes back to my Social Impact plan to address urban decay by using civic and private funding to improve the lives of our residents by investing in small businesses, affordable housing, parks, and other infrastructure projects throughout the city.

James Harvey: The Harvey administration would heavily rely on the expertise of the CDC's. However, regarding the blight of vacant lots, my plan would be to charge the vacant property owners a fee for clean-up by city services or private businesses, approved by the city of Memphis LOSB (locally owned small business). After a reasonable period of no response by property owners, property would become city of Memphis property in which we would incentivize CDC's to acquire through their normal legal channels, and create redevelopment programs to put property back on the tax role. The Harvey administration would also encourage homeownership opportunities by the community residence whom would not otherwise be able to afford homeownership. Depending on the location of the property, the Harvey administration would install camera's and have local law enforcement to be on the watch for illegal dumping. Lastly, the Harvey administration could incentivize the community organizations to also participate in reporting observed illegal dumping.

Michelle McKissack: Poverty is a feeder of crime. The impact of poverty plays an important role in the cycle of crime. One visible aspect of poverty is neighborhood blight. As Mayor, I will focus on blight remediation as a crime prevention strategy. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that blighted neighborhood environments are strongly tied to firearm violence. Blight remediation programs can be a cost-beneficial strategy that significantly and sustainably reduces gun violence. Every community deserves to be safe, feel hopeful, empowered, and a valued member of this city. As Mayor, I will fight blight with an extensive set of tools, data, technology, and resources combined with working with Memphis City Beautiful, CDCs, neighborhood associations, community leaders and government agencies on community engagement initiatives to remediate blight, repair, rehabilitate and reactivate properties in Memphis communities.

Brandy Price: Dumping fines need to be enforced. We need increased funding to the sanitation department of our city. Higher more full time workers to this department. When you realize that 60% of the budget goes to the police it’s easy to see where we can get the funding to do this.

Justina Ragland: My first step will be to make sure every four neighborhoods have a community association. These will be the citizens who live , in these neighborhoods. They will work closely to that District Representative. Meeting once a month. Now, you can retrieve order. My team and I can now produce funding from federal, for more sky cams, in these hot areas of dumping. The same technology of Telepoles (tolls) can now scan the license plates of these offenders. While neighborhood watch become more effect . Corporate companies will donate some of their contact security, into these target neighborhood. We can not solidify tactics that will making illegal dumping impossible to complete.

Tekeva Shaw: I will collaborate with the citizens of Memphis to inform them on environmental hazards and how blight devalues the community as a whole.

Derek Winn: #1. Abolish zoning. #2. I am not interested in working with any of these so-called "CDCs." My administration will be laser focused on deregulation, it will also be obscenely fiscally conservative, any and all contracts that previous governments have with non profits that are leeching on the taxpayers and providing inadequate services that the city of Memphis should be doing itself will be run through the wood chipper. 

Paul Young: Addressing the issue of blight requires a collaborative and sustainable approach, and my administration will actively engage CDCs and neighborhood organizations in the design and delivery of programs that tackle blight. We will establish a coordinated effort that leverages the specialized knowledge and insight of CDCs to activate parks and green spaces, convert vacant lots into community assets, and revitalize blighted properties. To facilitate collaboration, we will establish a dedicated task force comprising representatives from CDCs, local government agencies, and neighborhood organizations. This task force will work together to develop comprehensive strategies for blight remediation, including streamlined processes for property acquisition, rehabilitation, teardowns, and property management. By pooling our resources, expertise, and community engagement efforts, we can effectively address blight and create vibrant, thriving neighborhoods throughout Memphis and Shelby County.

Public Transit

The Memphis 3.0 Transit Vision Plan calls for increased investment in public transportation across the city to achieve a network of higher frequency bus routes serving more communities, at an estimated additional cost of approximately $38 million annually to achieve a network of higher frequency bus routes serving more communities that increase access to jobs and opportunities for Memphians. . A proposed tax increase – $0.29 for FY24 – aiming to secure more funding for MATA recently failed, though Memphis residents have long been dissatisfied with local transit.

What strategies would your administration employ to transform Memphis' public transit system into one which serves all residents of Memphis exceptionally instead of aiming for a baseline of adequate service?

Mayoral Candidate Responses

Kendra Calico: Bridge communication factors among those who are taking public transportation and mediate other funding areas to reduce potential added fees.

Karen Camper: It is clear that we need more funding and more ridership for MATA. The funding side should solve the second problem by creating more routes and greater access to public transportation for residents. This is going to become increasingly more imperative as Blue Oval City will be online in the near future and with that will come the need to transport a Memphis workforce to Lakeland and other ancillary industries that will be created because of the project. My administration will work with state government leaders and the Federal Department of Transportation to secure funding that will put MATA on a path to profitability and eventually be able to be self-sustaining.

George Flinn: After the Attack on Crime program, our public transportation would be an important issue to deal with. To transform Memphis' public transit system into one that serves all residents exceptionally rather than just providing baseline adequate service, the hypothetical administration would implement a multi-faceted approach to address the challenges and enhance the transit experience for Memphians. Here are the strategies that would be employed: Comprehensive Transit Master Plan: Develop a comprehensive transit master plan in collaboration with transit experts, community stakeholders, and transit agencies. This plan would set a clear vision for the future of public transportation in Memphis, identifying key objectives, service enhancements, and investment priorities.Equity-Centered Approach: Adopt an equity-centered approach to transit planning and service delivery. This would involve prioritizing the needs of underserved communities and areas with limited transportation options. The administration would work to bridge the transportation gaps, connecting residents to essential services, jobs, and opportunities.Data-Driven Decision Making: Utilize data analytics and ridership insights to make informed decisions on route planning, service frequency, and infrastructure improvements. Data-driven approaches can optimize transit operations and ensure that resources are allocated efficiently.Multi-Modal Integration: Promote multi-modal integration by enhancing connectivity between buses, light rail, bike-sharing, and other transportation options. Seamless transfers and coordinated schedules would encourage more Memphians to choose public transit for their daily commutes.Community Engagement: Involve the community in transit planning and decision-making processes. Conduct surveys, town halls, and focus groups to gather feedback and understand the specific needs and desires of riders. This community input would shape the design of transit services to better meet the demands of residents.Public-Private Partnerships: Seek partnerships with private companies and organizations to expand transit services and explore innovative transit solutions. Collaborating with the private sector could lead to more reliable and convenient transportation options for residents.Investment in Infrastructure: Increase investment in transit infrastructure, including dedicated bus lanes, modern transit stations, and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure around transit stops. These enhancements would improve the overall transit experience and encourage higher ridership.Affordability and Fare Policies: Review fare policies and explore options for making public transit more affordable for low-income residents. This could include discounted fares, fare capping, or income-based fare programs.Transit-Oriented Development: Encourage transit-oriented development around major transit hubs and corridors. This would create vibrant, walkable communities with easy access to public transit, further incentivizing its use.Performance-Based Contracting: Implement performance-based contracting with transit agencies, setting clear performance targets and holding them accountable for delivering high-quality service. Incentivizing better performance would drive improvements in transit operations.Public Awareness Campaigns: Launch public awareness campaigns to showcase the benefits of using public transit and challenge negative perceptions. Raising awareness about the positive impacts of an improved transit system can help garner public support.Long-Term Funding Solutions: Work with local legislators and stakeholders to explore long-term funding solutions for public transit. This may involve revisiting proposed tax increases or exploring alternative funding mechanisms to secure sustainable funding for the transit system.By combining these strategies, the administration aims to create a public transit system that not only provides essential service but also exceeds expectations, becoming a reliable, accessible, and inclusive mode of transportation for all residents of Memphis. Improving public transit would not only benefit individual riders but also contribute to a more sustainable, connected, and thriving city.

JW Gibson: I believe we have to get serious about public transportation by putting everything on the table from grants like the $38 million we just received from the federal government to leverage commitments from City and County government. We must create a system that can pay a significant portion of its own operating costs by getting more of the general public to use it.

Reggie Hall: I have plans to turn Memphis into a smart city for the future, using connected sensors, lights, and meters. MATA and our citizens will benefit greatly from new technology and new bus lanes that will enable traffic lights to connect with the buses in their respective locations. New bus lanes and traffic light sensors will also provide more efficient use, reduce congestion, and improve the quality of service for the passengers who want to get to their destinations faster.

James Harvey: The Harvey administration realizes in an election year, increasing taxes can be challenging. My team would seek State & Federal funding as first option. I would resubmit in my budget request $38 million dollars for public transportation; however, I would insist on budget cuts in other parts of our budget line items to prevent the $0.29 increase cost to the taxpayers. The Harvey administration would rely on best judgement and professional leadership by my office in order to meet the increased investment necessity, for public transportation.

Michelle McKissack: We need to expand beyond just looking at MATA as a local area transit authority but expand to a regional transit authority to pool the funds of investment for a transit authority that transports area residents from West Memphis to the Blue Oval development region. If Memphis is to grow as a capital of the South, we have has to invest a modern transit system tapping into not only local funding but also more federal transit funding.

Brandy Price: The funding to improve transit is there but it’s going to administration costs. That funding needs to be diverted to add more buses and strategically adding another bus station to fill out the schedule gaps. As of right now the buses schedule only cater to the four hospital employee shifts. We need the buses to be able to run through colleges and the entertainment district more frequently and a lot later on the weekends. We need to start giving people an incentive to ride the bus especially when intoxicated by making the fare free on some days.

Justina Ragland: First, I realize the safety of the bus driver are important . Now, I can formulate the plans properly. The busses need to be equipped with a door on the leftside of driver. The rightside of the driver need to be shelled completely. Now, safety is in place. Secondly, the bus routes can go longer through out the night maybe ( 24/7) as our city grows. * Addition I'm also thinking about Blue Oval too. This will be a longer route pick-up will be from both Downtown and American Way. This will be a little more expensive price and only those with special badges or tag can ride these. This is definitely for in the future. Busses in the meantime can run the routes around the distribution areas. I will say yes to the FY24 but my team and I will need to look at numbers for how long this tax will be implemented. We will find avenues to either subsidize or find the money. But if FY24 passes we will make sure to set a complete date of ending, this percentage.

Tekeva Shaw: My administration will give incentives for bus cards that will encourage more engagement and more routes.

Derek Winn: #1 Abolish zoning. #2 Interstate highway removal #3 The ultra liberals are absolutely convinced, without any evidence, that just shoving money into public transit increases ridership. We will, in no uncertain terms, not be "investing" (increasing taxes) and spending any more taxpayer dollars on MATA until ridership increases. To be clear, this Memphis Transit 3.0 nonsense is a dead letter when I take office, again, the wood chipper will be busy. The first step is to make public transportation in Memphis an attractive option, increases in investment from the overriding authority, in this case the city government, should come after ridership goes up, not the other way around. The way to make public transit an attractive option for citizens is going to take a complete renovation on how this city is constructed. 

Paul Young: Transforming Memphis' public transit system into one that serves all residents exceptionally requires us to be bold and do things differently. My administration will prioritize increasing investment in public transportation to enhance access and connectivity. We will explore funding options that go beyond tax increases, such as partnerships with private companies and philanthropic organizations, to secure additional resources for the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA). We will explore opportunities to expand rideshare programs like Groove on Demand in other parts of the community as well. To improve the quality of service, we will work closely with MATA to assess and optimize routes, frequency, and reliability based on community needs. This will involve conducting comprehensive transit studies and actively soliciting feedback from residents, especially those who heavily rely on public transportation. By engaging the community, we can ensure that the transit system aligns with their needs and provides efficient, reliable, and affordable transportation options.

Cultivating Parks and Libraries

In 2021, the City of Memphis allocated $250 million to Accelerate Memphis with goals to improve parks and public spaces, revitalize city assets, and activate the Memphis 3.0 Plan. While some of the short-term projects have reached their construction phases, many are still being planned and adjusted with estimated 10 year spans and potential future funding.

In light of this large investment, how would your leadership maintain the momentum of these projects and lead to positive and sustainable activation of those spaces?

Mayoral Candidate Responses

Kendra Calico: Develop specific and sustainable support to secure projects have the workforce development team needed to complete construction phase project.

Karen Camper: Interest rates and inflation have increased in the last couple of years which are creating challenges for construction completion at initial costs for these projects. My administration will review the progress of the Accelerate Memphis plan and seek to find ways to jump start projects that will have the greatest impact on our city and for our residents and enable progress on the plan to continue as rapidly as possible. Outside of that, I will continue to champion the project and look for other revenue streams to help reinforce the initial investment to complete as many of the projects as possible within a 5 year span and ensure that they can be maintained and enjoyed by all of our residents.

George Flinn: The future of Memphis being a safe city in which to enjoy parks and public spaces is one of the most important goals of the Attack on Crime program. Maintaining the momentum of projects under the Accelerate Memphis initiative and ensuring positive and sustainable activation of public spaces requires strong leadership and a well-coordinated approach. As the hypothetical administration, here's how I would lead to achieve these goals: Transparency and Accountability: Foster a culture of transparency and accountability in project management. Regularly communicate progress to the public, stakeholders, and City Council. Provide updates on the status of each project, any adjustments made, and the reasons behind them.Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration: Engage with various stakeholders, including community groups, neighborhood organizations, business associations, and experts in urban planning and public space activation. By involving diverse perspectives, we can create spaces that truly meet the needs and desires of the community.Streamlined Decision-Making: Facilitate a streamlined decision-making process to avoid unnecessary delays. Identify potential bottlenecks in the project pipeline and work with relevant departments to expedite approvals and permit processes. Long-Term Planning and Budgeting: Develop a clear and realistic long-term plan for each project, including estimated timelines and funding requirements. Ensure that adequate resources are allocated to sustain the momentum of the projects over the next 10 years and beyond. Public Engagement and Input: Continue to actively engage the public throughout the project lifecycle. Seek input on design choices, amenities, and programming to create spaces that resonate with the community. Public involvement fosters a sense of ownership and pride in these public spaces. Adaptive Management: Embrace adaptive management principles, allowing for adjustments based on feedback, changing needs, or unforeseen challenges. Flexibility in project implementation will lead to more successful outcomes. Activation and Programming: Ensure that completed spaces are activated with vibrant programming that attracts residents and visitors alike. Collaborate with local artists, organizations, and event planners to curate activities that make the spaces lively and inviting. Sustainability and Resilience: Integrate sustainability and resilience principles into the design and maintenance of public spaces. This includes using eco-friendly materials, water-efficient landscaping, and creating spaces that can adapt to changing environmental conditions. Regular Evaluations and Assessments: Establish a system for regular evaluations and assessments of the impact and usage of these spaces. Use data to measure the effectiveness of the projects and make data-driven decisions for further improvements. Community Partnerships: Forge strong partnerships with community organizations, non-profits, and local businesses to support ongoing activation and maintenance efforts. These partnerships can provide additional resources and volunteer support. Marketing and Promotion: Implement marketing and promotional campaigns to create awareness about the new and improved public spaces. Effective marketing can attract more visitors and residents to these areas, making them more vibrant and economically viable.By incorporating these strategies, my leadership would strive to maintain the momentum of Accelerate Memphis projects and ensure that they result in positive, sustainable, and well-activated public spaces that enrich the quality of life for all residents of Memphis for years to come.

JW Gibson: I fully support the investment in our parks and public spaces and would enhance that investment by building public-private partnerships that can provide additional financial resources. Additionally, we should seek regional and federal grant dollars to support these investments. I will also ensure that we have sufficient staffing within the Parks Division to support the full utilization of these spaces.

Reggie Hall: I would get more people from the disenfranchised communities to invest in the projects by creating more small businesses that are able to provide services to the 3.0 plan. This will motivate the people who would not otherwise have been involved with the plan. It’s an all hands on deck approach and we can all agree that it would work better.

James Harvey: The Harvey administration would continue to support the 10 year plan. Our office would take as active role in promoting and supporting the project as it has been approved. The sustainability of this project would be based on positive, supportive, and strong leadership from the Mayors office. Complimenting the reimaging of this development is paramount to how the citizens decide to respect and accept the development as proud Memphians.

Michelle McKissack: Memphis is at a major turning point. We want to see our city become the Capital of the South. With my plan Whole City Memphis, I explain in detail how we can make that happen. To make monumental change that I outline in Whole City Memphis, we must create plans, collaborate, and hold each other accountable. My administration will reach out to Memphians from all across the city to ensure they are included in the planning process and to learn what they are asking for not only for our parks but all long term investments. Once we the plan and vision are clear, we need to collaborate with all sectors of our community from businesses to non-profits to community organizations and the like. The whole city must be involved to maximize the output and realize these large projects. Finally, we come to accountability. For each plan, we must set realistic benchmarks that we must hit along the way. These benchmarks will let us know in real time if we are on track or not. These benchmarks should be made publicly available so that not only the administration but all community members are aware of where we are and we can hold each other accountable to what needs to be accomplished.

Brandy Price: Definitely need to make sure to review the Memphis 3.0 plan and make sure that there are people not being left out or made disenfranchised.

Justina Ragland: First, I really would need to see the contracts. There should be a clauses in these contracts, where the construction companies would need to refresh new employees, every two years. I would make sure that, check points are set up with Department of Labor. Once this process is identified. Second phase come in.

Tekeva Shaw: My leadership will encourage these projects to be completed before the projected completion date of 10 years while raising money for funding.

Derek Winn: Cancel all of them. The Memphis 3.0 nonsense goes in the wood chipper. We are going to completely start over. I will cut everything I can, down to the bone, it is time to clean house. Our overarching priority will be completely abolishing exclusionary zoning in the city of Memphis, until that happens, nothing happens.

Paul Young: During my time as Director of Housing & Community Development, I was one of the architects of Memphis 3.0 and helped to identify the projects that are a part of Accelerate Memphis. Maintaining the momentum of projects funded by Accelerate Memphis and activating public spaces requires ongoing leadership and engagement. My administration will prioritize the long-term sustainability and maintenance of these projects to ensure they continue to benefit the community. We will establish partnerships with community organizations, local businesses, and nonprofit entities to develop stewardship programs for parks and public spaces. This will involve engaging volunteers, organizing community clean-up events, and implementing maintenance plans to preserve the beauty and functionality of these spaces. Additionally, we will promote programming and community events in parks and libraries to encourage use of the parks and foster a sense of ownership among residents. By working closely with community organizations, we can ensure that these spaces become vibrant hubs for cultural exchange, recreation, and community engagement.

This is a nonpartisan questionnaire and all candidates running for Memphis Mayor are invited to submit their answers. All candidates are also invited to attend the Forum on July 27.

The following candidates have received the questionnaire:

Mayoral Candidates

Jennings Bernard

Floyd Bonner

Joe Brown

Kendra Calico

Karen Camper

Frank Colvett

George Flinn

JW Gibson

Reggie Hall

James Harvey

Willie Herenton

Michelle McKissack

Brandy Price

Justina Ragland

Tekeva Shaw

Van Turner

Derek Winn

Paul Young

Candidates in Bold have submitted their Questionnaire Responses.

Read the responses from candidates running for City Council District Races here.

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  • Bailey Myers
    published this page in Blog 2023-07-14 12:29:47 -0500