Re-Cap for November Community Meeting

Community members gathered at the CYCA office on Tuesday, November 10th, for a small forum with our District 4 run-off candidates, Dorris Deberry-Bradshaw and Jamita Swearengen. The meeting kicked off with a several announcements including a special thanks to our winners and participants in the Great Pumpkin Halloween Decorating Contest and information on the Suzzane Striker Memorial Food Drive to be held Saturday, November 21st. We then heard a short speech from each candidate before opening the floor to questions.

Deberry-Bradshaw spoke first and emphasized her history of activism and career in banking. She was born and raised in District 4 and spent many years working for a local bank as their system control clerk. She has also been an outspoken advocate for the community in regards to health and environmental justice issues. She is running for City Council because she feels the Council needs a better system for listening to their constituents. If elected, she will create a leadership board made up of representatives from throughout District 4 in an effort to stay informed and engaged with the community. She is also concerned with youth and economic issues.

Swearengen spoke second and came out with a strong focus on deterring crime and promoting youth advocacy. She, too, is a native of District 4 however her professional background is as a behavioral specialist with Shelby County Schools. She has also been active in her community as member of her local church board and has worked within the larger Memphis area on the Shelby County Democratic Committee. She is passionate about representing District 4 and working with constituents to improve the district for all of our diverse groups.

After these initial speeches, we had several questions from residents regarding important issues in our area. Here is a brief summary of these questions and the response from each candidate:

What is your position on the Fairgrounds development and the Tourism Development Zone?
Deberry-Bradshaw
  • Met with Colosseum Coalition and would like to see the Colosseum reopened as a venue for events too small for the Fedex Forum
  • Would like to see facilities for the community included in Fairgrounds development
  • In favor of retail in Fairgrounds development in order to provide jobs particularly for young people in District 4
Swearengen
  • Met with Colosseum Coalition and would like to see Colosseum reopened if possible to design venue that will not interfere with parking for the Memphis Children’s Museum
  • Would like the Fairgrounds to include functions for all different economic groups and believes the ultimate decision should come from nearby residents
  • In favor of retail to bring dollars back to the nearby neighborhoods and to the city at large
What specific environmental issues are you passionate about?
Deberry-Bradshaw
  • Very concerned with environmental factors like lead that can lead to health issues particularly in lower-income populations
  • Concerns with Memphis air quality
Swearengen
  • Has worked with Le Bonheur on how poor air quality impacts children
  • Issues with MLGW smart meters and has concerns about unhealthy emissions from meters as well as unreliability and negative impact on available jobs
How will you work with MLGW to improve service?
Deberry-Bradshaw
  • Reminded us that MLGWs budget goes through City Council
  • Proposed leadership board would help with this by giving her specific information about resident issues with MLGW
Swearengen
  • Would bring representatives from MLGW to community meetings to hear concerns directly
  • Would investigate mysterious additional fees on MLGW bills
What is your vision to mend the tension between City Council and MPD/MFD?
Deberry-Bradshaw
  • First and foremost, get pensions back to what they were
  • Called for diversity training for officers and transparency in city spending
Swearengen
  • Emphasized the importance of CLERB and neighborhood watch programs that get citizens working with law enforcement
  • Would investigate where the money for pensions went and work to change this system
How will you encourage community leadership and get neighborhoods to work together?
Deberry-Bradshaw
  • Leadership council of members from throughout District 4
  • Foster smaller scale inter-neighborhood events that focus on common issues
Swearengen
  • Continue to engage with organizations like local church, neighborhood watch, and others
  • Promote festivals and large scale events like the CY Festival and Southern Heritage Classic; also continue National Night Out
What are your thoughts about the issues with Memphis Animal Services?
Deberry-Bradshaw
  • Agreed that leadership needed to change and that all hires should be carefully checked out for past history of violence/abuse
  • Dislikes the current status as a kill shelter
Swearengen
  • Would be very careful and specific in hiring a new director as well as other personnel
  • Would keep a close and watchful eye on the new administration
How will you help improve the negative reputation that Memphis has outside of the city?
Deberry-Bradshaw
  • Push for transparency for government agencies
  • Work on helping young people with problematic pasts to get jobs or become entrepreneurs
Swearengen
  • It’s all about bringing more jobs to Memphis
  • Would like to reinstate a dual path (collegiate AND technical) in area schools; believes that better training and employment for young people will decrease crime
  • Hold parents accountable for delinquency to combat our high dropout rate
  • Work on remediating blight