Now more than ever, it is critical to elect candidates that represent a vision for shifting away from the status quo toward valuing and investing in our people and communities. We need representatives in office that believe we can and must invest in our young people to achieve thriving lives through schools and community support. We can no longer tolerate leaders in the criminal justice system who continue to push the same failed policies that provide neither true justice nor public safety.

Stand for Children TN comes to these endorsements with our new mission in mind – to be a unique catalyst for education equity and racial justice, to create a brighter future for us all. For the Shelby County primary election on May 3rd, Stand considered endorsements in several races that we believe will have a lasting impact on the progress and prosperity of our communities in Shelby County. We also made a shift in our process to invite individuals from coalition partners to join us at the endorsement table to provide even more diverse interests and representation in our decision-making.  Many of these races are competitive in the primary election, and we hope that our endorsement will make a difference.

The candidates we endorsed in these races demonstrated – through past experience, current perspectives, and stated goals – that they aligned most closely with our values of improving public safety through non-punitive systemic approaches, supporting youth opportunity and success (both in and out of school), and investing in our communities.

  • Janika White for Shelby County District Attorney
  • Reginald Milton for Juvenile Court Clerk

Shelby County Mayor and Commissioner Endorsements

  • Mayor Lee Harris for Shelby County Mayor
  • District 4: Brandon Morrison
  • District 5: Quran Folsom
  • District 6: Charlie Caswell
  • District 7: Kathy Temple
  • District 10: Britney Thornton
  • District 12: Erika Sugarmon
  • District 13: Michael Whaley

Endorsement Process

Our endorsements come after a rigorous 10-week process that was led by a committee of individuals with diverse backgrounds, work and lived experiences, and perspectives. All of the committee members have supported the work of Stand and our affiliated coalitions and projects over the years. These dedicated leaders continue to take their role and responsibility in this process seriously.

The entire committee researched all candidates, and we followed these steps in making our endorsement decisions:  

  1. Committee members developed questions for a written survey based on Stand for Children’s principles and values, and we made an intentional effort to reach out to all candidates in the races we considered. All committee members had access to each candidate’s survey responses.
  2. Dates of follow-up interviews were scheduled with all interested candidates who responded to our survey by the deadline.
  3. The committee members developed interview questions for each candidate based on their survey responses and the office for which they were running. 
  4. The committee then conducted in-depth face-to-face interviews with each candidate, and recordings and notes were available for the rest of the committee members to view ahead of the deliberation process.
  5. Each candidate was then given careful and robust consideration, as we worked to achieve consensus in our final decisions, with final input and approval from Executive Director Cardell Orrin. 

I’m tremendously proud of the rigorous time and energy that the endorsement committee invested in this process. I want to thank those who worked so hard through candidate questionnaires, interviews, and vigorous deliberation to deliver these thoroughly vetted endorsements to you. These decisions were not made lightly, and we stand by these candidates as we continue our work to move Shelby County forward to create a brighter future for us all.

Today is Transit Equity Day in Memphis, rescheduled from early February due to inclement weather that hit our region at that time. Even though several events for the week were canceled or postponed either due to road conditions or internet connectivity issues during the storm, we continued working to collect the stories & experiences of transit riders. Even with extreme weather, people have places to be. 

When people can’t get to where they need to go because they depend on Memphis’ public transit system, we ought to recognize the reason why… For years, the Memphis City Council has underfunded and cut dollars for our public transit system, which means long waits and commutes, cuts to routes and service hours, missed appointments, and missed opportunities for hundreds of thousands of residents trying to make ends meet and get ahead. 

When City & County Leaders prioritize investments in essential services like public transportation, our communities are safer and healthier. Our City and County leaders need to know that Public Transit = Public Safety. Issues like funding public transit are revealing the necessity of implementing a participatory community-centered budgeting process in Shelby County. We will be facilitating this process via the Moral Budget Coalition in the coming weeks and months to ensure all of our voices are heard in setting priorities for how the budget is spent! 

When City Council Members don’t invest in people, our communities suffer. Stay tuned for more updates on the community-centered budgeting process, and meanwhile, if you or someone you know rides MATA, let us know how the underfunding of public transit has affected you!

No matter our color, background, or zip code, voters should pick their leaders, not the other way around. We marked this Martin Luther King Day by partnering with Civic TN to gather signatures for a petition that tells our legislators that we need a fair redistricting process that keeps communities together and strengthens our voting power.

Every decade, we the people are supposed to get the chance to draw new district lines that will move us closer to “one person, one vote” and give our communities equal access to the decision-making processes that determine resources for schools, hospitals, roads, and other essential services that our government is supposed to fund. 

But that’s not what happens. 

More than 50 years after Dr. King started calling for fair redistricting, we are still fighting the same fight. Right now, a small handful of Tennessee’s politicians are taking it into their own hands to redraw districts across the state behind closed doors. Without public input and accountability, these politicians are free to draw districts that serve their own needs, often splitting up communities of color and weakening their voting power. A fair redistricting process is directly connected to voting rights, racial justice, and economic justice, and we must speak up as loudly and as often as possible to change this undemocratic process.

The districts that get drawn this year will shape our lives and communities for the next decade, and these unconstitutional maps will be up for a vote in both the State House and Senate as soon as Thursday, January 20. We need as many of you as possible to tell our lawmakers that nobody knows our communities better than the people that live in them, and we the people need to have a say in how our districts are drawn. Please continue the work to honor Dr. King by taking action with this petition and contacting your legislators to call for a fair and transparent redistricting process!