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Financial contributions contrast candidates in Germantown alderman election

By , Daily Memphian Updated: October 24, 2022 10:48 AM CT | Published: October 24, 2022 4:00 AM CT

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Financial disclosures tend to shed light on who is invested in a campaign, especially in Germantown.

In previous years, there might be similarities among candidates based on those who financially backed multiple candidates, but the Nov. 8, 2022, ballot is different from those in recent memory. There is only one contested race on the suburb’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen, as Alderman Scott Sanders tries to retain his seat against challenger Manjit Kaur.

Germantown alderman Position 1 faces challenger

Mayor Mike Palazzolo and Mary Anne Gibson, who are also on the ballot, are running unopposed.

Four years ago, there was a divide among residents who wanted to keep Palazzolo and his administration and those who wanted to see the city head in a different direction. In 2018, much of the election chatter centered on development because the suburb was in the midst of a moratorium on apartments, allowing city staff to analyze the impact of multi-family housing on city services. 

But in 2020, three sitting aldermen did not seek reelection, and so it brought fresh perspective to the board with the election of Alderwoman Sherrie Hicks, Alderman Brian Ueleke and Alderman Jon McCreery. All three had the backing of most of the sitting aldermen and the Memphis Area Association of Realtors.

This year, no sitting board members have publicly backed Kaur or Sanders, but some notable community members have.

Kaur has the backing of a number of residents, including Forrest Owens, a former alderman, and Angie Blankenship, a retired captain of the Germantown Police Department. Patty Tormina, the Germantown Education Commission chairwoman, also endorsed Kaur.

Finances, endorsements show alignment in Germantown elections

Sanders, meanwhile, has the endorsement of Sharon Goldsworthy, who served as Germantown mayor from 1994 until 2014, and Mark Billingsley, a former Germantown alderman and Shelby County commissioner. Amy Weirich, former Shelby County District Attorney General, also expressed her formal support for Sanders. He also received endorsements from two former city department heads: Ralph Gabb, finance director, and Pat McConnell, Germantown’s former human resources director.

The race for alderman is a stark contrast from elections in years past. Although the moratorium on apartments expired in 2019, there is still some debate about development and growth, and both Kaur and Sanders say they are opposed to apartments.

Sanders is campaigning on his experience as a U.S. Marshall and his last four years as an alderman. Kaur believes her civic engagement experience qualify her to run for elected office.

Elections can cost candidates large sums of money, so they often will solicit donations to aid their campaigns. They must list anyone who contributes more than $100 and file reports regularly with the Shelby County Election Commission. The maximum donation one may give is $1,600. Kaur has received $48,957 in itemized contributions, in contrast with Sanders’ $8,550 itemized contributions, according to the Shelby County Election Campaign Finance Portal.

Kaur received $250 from Owens, the former alderman. Sanders received $1,600 from John Barzizza, a former alderman who unsuccessfully challenged Palazzolo in 2018.

Kaur started hosting fundraisers in March. Her donations are from in-state and out of state. Nearly $27,000 are from businesses and people in the greater Memphis area, but outside Germantown. Of that, $12,500 came from those living inside Memphis city limits. About $14,153 of her itemized contributions came from Germantown residents. The remainder are from out of state. Some are from Massachusetts, where Kaur’s family lived for 12 years before they moved to Germantown.

“(The) India Fest that we do, we bring people from out of state,” Kaur said. “People see how hard I’ve been working for the community. … Why would people give you money? If anybody gives you $100, there’s a reason because I have worked hard for every community, even out of state.”

Sanders received only one donation from outside Germantown, $500 from Kent Ritchey, president of Landers Auto Group. The rest of his itemized donations are from Germantown residents. He has not hosted a single fundraiser, although he has written some letters asking for financial support. Sanders said his campaign, mostly funded by Germantown residents, is “how the chips fell.”

“My campaign’s basically always been — my first time around (in 2018) and this time — a grassroots campaign,” Sanders said. “These are people that supported me in the past, most of them, but there are a lot of new supporters this time.”

Kroger wants to add fuel pumps at Germantown store

There is still one more financial filing period for donations in October. On Friday afternoon at the polls, Kaur and Sanders noted their contributors for the current month are primarily from Germantown.


Germantown Germantown Board of Mayor and Aldermen Manjit Kaur Scott Sanders analysis
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.