Jim Strickland is running for re-election as mayor in the city of Memphis.
Strickland was sworn in as the 64th mayor of Memphis in January 2016. Strickland said he has taken many strides to improve the city.
Since his election, he said unemployment in Memphis is near a record low, and more than $15 billion in development is happening in the Greater Memphis area.
Strickland said he seeks improvement to the city’s early childhood education. He has launched city funding for pre-kindergarten, which allowed schools to provide a needs-based pre-k for the first time without a tax increase.
Strickland said he will continue his current plans for Memphis if re-elected.
“We will continue to build on things like paving streets and hiring police officers and doing more for young people, which we’ve already done,” Strickland said. “Then kind of expand on things like try to push some economic development and momentum we feel in certain parts of the city to places that have not seen investment, and that’s all guided by the Memphis 3.0 comprehensive plan. Also, really focus on cleaning up the litter that’s pretty prevalent in certain parts of the city.”
Strickland also said the size of Memphis makes campaigning more challenging.
“It takes a lot of effort and a lot of time to get to every part of the city,” Strickland said. “I’ve done a lot of campaigning one-on-one personally with people and with such a large city it’s a challenge trying to get to every single neighborhood.”
Strickland emphasized that the University of Memphis is very important to the city.
“The University of Memphis is a incredibly important institution for this city, mostly through the number of people it educates and prepares for the work force,” Strickland said. “Anything we can do here at the city of Memphis to partner with the University of Memphis to further their admission we will do. We’ve seen evidence of that from infrastructure improvements around the campus, to economic development along the Highland strip to the tennis center that we are going to build over there on campus. What I would say to the students and faculty is that I believe the University of Memphis is very important to our city’s future and that I will always try to partner with the university to support its mission because that helps Memphis grow.”
Otis Sanford, a journalism professor at the University of Memphis, commented on the differences between Mayor Strickland and the past mayor, AC Wharton.
“I’m not sure that there is any direct noticeable change other than, I think you can give Mayor Strickland some credit for doing some basic things better than what Mayor Wharton did,” Sanford said. “For example, he has done a better job of paving the streets. If you drive down Highland right now, you’re on a smooth ride, and that wasn’t always the case. I think that downtown has continued to grow, I think the economy is a little bit better in the city. I think the biggest change that he can point to is he has done a better job of providing economic opportunities for minority companies in Memphis by increasing the level of city contracts. As far as crime, there hasn’t really been a noticeable change — it hasn’t gotten any worse but it hasn’t gotten any better... If you look at polls, yes, I think you’d have to say right now that Mayor Strickland is the favorite.”
The Mayoral general election will take place on Oct. 3.