As I said earlier, I believe there is much that is good in our city, despite the difficult challenges that we face. But by coming together, focusing on what unites us rather than divides us, listening to the voice of the citizens and striving to meet their needs and support their goals, we can make this city great once again.
I believe in Right-Sizing Memphis. What do I mean by that? Well, first, I believe that people’s property should not be annexed by a city without their consent, and because I believe this, I was involved at the local and state levels in getting forced annexation outlawed by the Tennessee General Assembly last year.
Additionally, those areas previously annexed without property owners’ consent should have the ability to de-annex themselves from that entity. How can they do this? Well, if 10% of residents wish to de-annex, they will be able to get a referendum placed on the ballot and then the residents of that community could vote to stay a part of Memphis or to become their own municipality, similar to Bartlett or Collierville. They could also petition one of those municipalities to see if the respective administration was interested in expanding to incorporate their area.
However, because I am firmly a Memphian and proud of it – I also believe in de-annexation in order to Right-size Memphis. If we let those residents who do not wish to be a part of Memphis repay their bond debt to the City for the improvements of their annexed area, and leave, we can then use that money to focus on growing Memphis vertically, redeveloping existing neighborhoods, instead of horizontally, which is increasing suburban sprawl and puts a strain on resources. Something we should have been doing in the first place.
Next, Memphis is losing many of our police officers to other cities because of the actions of the City Council in regard to city employee benefits. For future employees, changes are absolutely required in order to keep the city fiscally secure, but reneging on the promise of benefits to current and past employees is not acceptable. Fighting crime requires a strong police force and our Men and Women in Blue deserve the wholehearted support of all Memphians. In the same vein, dropping health care subsidies from retirees, especially the 800 men and women who retired before they turned 65, and forcing spouses off the insurance plan entirely, is just wrong.
How could city administrators even begin to think about funding another pet project, such as another shopping mall redevelopment or granting money to private businesses when our first responders, employees, and residents are suffering like this??? It’s beyond me. I urge everyone to look up the viral video of Dave Booker outside the City Council Committee meeting on July 7th so that you can see this for yourself. It’s hard to watch and utterly heart-wrenching. I showed it to my Communications class and there was not a dry eye in the room.
Likewise, I believe it is wrong to drop employees from a pension plan that they have been paying into for up to 7 ½ years, which is what City Council voted to do in 2016. I want to restore these benefits to existing employees and mandate that changes in compensation and benefits be made for new employees only. That being said – I believe in government transparency and accountability, and will work to ensure that in every action by the City Council.
I believe in strengthening neighborhoods and communities through citizen involvement, opportunities for youth recreation and education, and support for small businesses.
We must address blight, provide core services, and create safe environments where we live, work, and play. I will vote NO to Smart Meters – they are NOT the way to go and they should NOT be mandated by MLGW, and I will vote YES to saving and reopening the Coliseum.
I believe the city must provide high quality services to both animals and people through Memphis Animal Services, serving both with compassion and professionalism and currently, we are lacking both.
I believe learning does not stop when a student steps out of the classroom and there is much Memphis can do to provide education and job training for youth and adults. We have a responsibility to build a skilled work force and provide economic development opportunities for people and businesses. We should reopen the community centers and offer life-skills classes, such as creating and balancing a household budget, gardening, cooking, sewing, woodworking, reading, computer literacy, and much more. Additionally, I think that providing open community swimming pools with lifeguards, and offering swimming classes for children and adults would provide much needed recreation and health benefits.
The City of Memphis must also address the fiscal cliff it is nearing. We must put an end to unnecessary spending and get to a “back to basics” mindset, dealing only with the services required by governments to provide. Red tape and regulations on business should be minimized. Memphians are proud, intelligent, and industrious and should be encouraged to start businesses that will provide jobs instead of being hindered by a bureaucratic maze of rules and hoops to jump through.
I do not expect to accomplish these things alone. We need fresh faces and fresh ideas on our City Council. We need a mayor who operates with the citizens’ interest foremost in mind. We need city leaders committed to honesty, integrity, and accountability.
We need to work together to meet the needs of ALL our citizens, realizing that we have more in common than superficial differences like the part of town we live in or our economic status would indicate. We all want safe neighborhoods, reliable services, activities and education for our children, job security and fair compensation for our work, a government we trust, and pride in our city. We can make those priorities our new reality by working together.