Finances, endorsements show alignment in Germantown elections

By , Daily Memphian Updated: November 01, 2020 9:46 AM CT | Published: November 01, 2020 4:00 AM CT

Each election cycle, Germantown candidates like to brand themselves as independent thinkers, but recent endorsements and financial disclosures show some ideological alignment among candidates seeking alderman posts.

Coming Tuesday: The Daily Memphian will have comprehensive live coverage all day and night on Election Day. A live blog during the day will focus on voter turnout and any Election Day issues. When the polls close, we will have live results — updated every 60 seconds — from national, state and local races. Count on Memphis’ largest local news staff to bring you the best election coverage. 

Germantown races are non-partisan and at-large; voters get to select all of their aldermen. In 2018, John Barzizza, mayoral candidate, campaigned alongside Scott Sanders, who won the Position 1 seat, and unsuccessful candidate Jeff Brown in Position 2. Their signs were often grouped together as were those of Mayor Mike Palazzolo, Alderwoman Mary Anne Gibson and Position 1 candidate Brian White. While no alignment put three candidates in office in recent years, in 2020 the groupings have arisen again.

The three alderman seats on Tuesday’s ballot are open as incumbents are not seeking re-election, which could change the make up of the board.

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In Germantown, Sherrie Hicks, Brian Ueleke and Jon McCreery, seeking Positions 3, 4 and 5 respectively, have received substantial campaign contributions, endorsements and vocal support. 

Terri Johnson seeking Position 3, John Paul Miles. campaigning for Position 4, and Brandon Musso, a Position 5 hopeful, have not received the same amount of money or endorsements, but have the same election consultant, Todd Johnson — Terri’s husband. 

Here are the contributions listed based on the candidates’ pre-election Financial Disclosure filed last week.

Name Position Total contributions
Sherrie Hicks 3 $51,240.01
Terri Johnson 3 $18,221.32
John Paul Miles 4 $16,927.32
Rod Motley 4 $9,340
Brian Ueleke 4 $37,458
Jon McCreery 5 $81,675
Brandon Musso 5 $16,032.32

While the political signs occasionally are a mix of candidates, the groupings tend to lean toward Hicks, Ueleke and McCreery or Johnson, Miles and Musso. 

Memphis Area Association of Realtors endorsed Hicks, Ueleke and McCreery. Additionally, Alderwoman Mary Anne Gibson, Alderman Forrest Owens and Alderman Rocky Janda have posted on Facebook supporting the Hicks-Ueleke-McCreery group along with Scott Williams, a school board candidate.

Owens and Janda are incumbents who are not seeking reelection.

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“These candidates haven’t sought my endorsement nor are they running together as a slate of candidates,” Gibson said of Hicks, Ueleke and McCreery in a Facebook post.

However, residents sometimes gravitate to one set of candidates with similar ideas. In recent years, those who win are able to gain support of those who don’t vote for a “slate.”

The only similar support for Johnson, Miles and Musso came from departing Alderman Dean Massey, who stated his support on his Facebook page “Massey for Germantown.” A letter to former supporters of Barzizza also asked for consideration in supporting Johnson, Miles and Musso.

Mayor Mike Palazzolo and Position 1 Alderman Sanders did not widely share their support for candidates.

“In the end, I will be working closely with whomever wins this election, and I assure you I can and will work with any candidate who is successful in their bid for alderman,” Sanders said.

Palazzolo declined to comment on why he kept his stance mostly quiet.

Financial disclosures also show a divide. Candidates are required to report any campaign contributions more than $100.

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Rod Motley, who is seeking Position 4, received less than $6,000 in itemized contributions. Motley is involved with Teamsters locally. Teamsters and Motley’s relative made up the majority of those donors.

Hicks, who serves on the Planning Commission received money from each fellow commissioner, with the exception of Palazzolo. Commissioners Richard Marsh, and George Hernandez each gave $250 to Ueleke and McCreery as well. The two are among eight who gave more than $100 to those three. 

Hicks also received money from Friends of Forrest Owens and State Rep. Mark White. She and McCreery shared some financial supporters — notably, Spence Ray, vice-president of McNeill Commercial Real Estate and developer of Thornwood, a mixed-use development at Germantown Road and Exeter Road.

Ray also is a principal in the group that bought the former Germantown Country Club.

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Hicks and McCreery also received donations from executives at Tower Ventures.

Just one resident gave to only Ueleke and McCreery. The two are both using Kim Perry as a campaign consultant.

Ueleke’s donations came mostly from friends and family. He also received money from FedEx’s Political Action Committee and employees. McCreery focused on friends, and many of his supporters are in real estate, construction, engineering or development.

Hicks and Ueleke had some similar contributions. They both received $1,000 from the Tennessee Realtors Political Action Committee. Both received contributions from Sharon Goldsworthy, former Germantown mayor — $500 to Hicks and $250 to Ueleke.

Of Miles’ 18 itemized supporters, 11 gave to Johnson and Musso also. Friends of John Barzizza gave nearly $750 to the three seeking an alderman’s office. Barzizza’s wife, Wanda, gave $1,600 each to all three. Scott Sanders’ wife also contributed $500 to them.

All except three of Miles’ itemized donations were from Germantown residents. 

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Johnson received money from friends across the area, mostly from Germantown. Her Kentucky roots also showed as some friends and family donated from the Bluegrass State.

All except five of Musso’s itemized contributions were from Germantown residents. The rest were from Memphis and Collierville residents.

Election Day is Tuesday. Polls in Germantown are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. and voters must cast their ballot at their assigned precinct. 


Germantown Germantown Election 2020 Sherrie Hicks Terri Johnson John Paul Miles Rod Motley Brian Ueleke Brandon Musso Jon McCreery Germantown Board of Mayor and Aldermen Aldermanic Elections Alderman Position 3 Alderman Position 4 Alderman Position 5 Financial Disclosures 2020 municipal elections
Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a graduate of the University of Memphis. She has worked for several local publications and covers the suburbs for The Daily Memphian.


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