Mayor's race

Memphis Mayor’s Race 2023: Floyd Bonner Jr.

By , Daily Memphian Updated: September 05, 2023 4:31 PM CT | Published: September 05, 2023 4:31 PM CT

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. has made himself the law-and-order candidate in the current race for Memphis mayor but declined, in an interview, to offer his opinion on how his officers have used force in the field. The sheriff’s ads emphasize his 42 years in law enforcement, but Shelby County government has not released his personnel file almost two months after it was first requested. 

But Bonner has run on the promise of growing the Memphis Police Department, expanding its ranks and fighting for stricter criminal sentencing laws — policies that mimic those of the man he is trying to succeed, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

“Our number one issue is crime ... I love our community and I cannot stand by and watch what is going on in our city …” Bonner has said throughout his yearlong campaign. 

Bonner says he’s the answer to Memphis crime question

Bonner grew up loving science, but he didn’t choose it as a career path. Instead, after graduating from the University of Memphis, his father, a Memphis police officer, suggested he join law enforcement. 

That began Bonner’s 42-year-long career in law enforcement. The first five years of his career were spent at the Shelby County Jail, the same jail (in a different building) that he now oversees. 

Read more about Bonner: Bonner says he’s the answer to Memphis crime question

To learn more about all of the candidates, visit The Daily Memphian’s 2023 City of Memphis election landing page

Bonner is scheduled to appear on “Behind The Headlines” on Friday, Sept. 22. 

 In his own words 

The Daily Memphian: What is the most pressing issue facing the city today?

Floyd Bonner Jr.: Reducing crime will be the No. 1 priority of my administration, and it is by far the most critical challenge we face as a community. Crime continues to have an oversized impact on our city, and the negative news coming out of Memphis is costing us population, tourism, businesses and good-paying jobs.

What do you think the City of Memphis budget should spend more on? What do you think it should spend less on?

I believe the majority of the budget needs to go to the following: public safety (police and fire); infrastructure upgrades; cleaning up blight; trash and litter; community resources, including parks; libraries and community centers; youth services; and programs that help keep kids succeed and stay in school.

Is the City of Memphis going in the right direction?

No. I believe that Memphis is ripe with opportunity, but due to the high crime rates, we are unable to seize that opportunity. Once we get the crime rates under control, I believe that Memphis will become a prosperous city.

Would you ever be in favor of increasing property taxes?

We currently have the highest property and sales taxes in Tennessee, and I strongly oppose any tax increase. In 2019, the voters of Memphis voted to max out our sales tax under state law, and I am glad to see that increase is being used for police bonuses, retention and public safety.

While I do support increasing investments in transportation, youth programs and other city services, the next mayor of Memphis will have the benefit of an additional $50 million annually because of the debt cliff. That money can be used to invest in our city without burdening struggling families.

Do you believe that, as a representative of the public, your vote should reflect how your constituents would vote or are they electing you to use your own judgment?

I do believe the next mayor should lead by reflecting the will of the people of Memphis. That means listening to all the people of Memphis and not just those who are loudest on social media or those who get the most attention from the media.

What do you think are the keys to your success?

The ability to listen and learn and the courage to make tough decisions when they are in the best interest of the community.

What was the last book you read?

“The Hate You Give.” It was required reading for the book club at 201 for our youthful offenders. I had seen the movie but wanted to be familiar with what they were reading and found it a powerful book on the responsibility we all share for reporting injustice when it occurs.

If you got to choose a last meal, what would it be?

A Tomahawk steak, a loaded baked potato and asparagus.

What talent or skill do you wish you had?

I wish I could fix my own car.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

I enjoyed the 10 years I coached youth football and how rewarding it was to shape young men’s lives. I also enjoy golfing and being able relax outside. Spending time with my family and my grandchildren is what I enjoy most now.


Floyd Bonner Jr. 2023 Memphis Mayor's race


Want to comment on our stories or respond to others? Join the conversation by subscribing now. Only paid subscribers can add their thoughts or upvote/downvote comments. Our commenting policy can be viewed here