Mayor's Race

Memphis Mayor’s Race 2023: Michelle McKissack

By , Daily Memphian Published: September 05, 2023 1:46 PM CT

Imagine a young girl, her sister and their neighborhood friends walking to a nearby Memphis public library on a summer’s day. They are not looking over their shoulders. Their parents are not afraid for them.

This was Michelle McKissack’s life growing up in Memphis’ Cherokee neighborhood. Her parents bought their house in 1970, and McKissack remembers “playing in the backyard, running through the sprinklers” and thinking about crime not at all.

Now 50 years later, the platform for McKissack’s mayoral campaign is simple: Whole City Memphis. Meaning, everyone deserves an opportunity. And it will take everyone to lift the city up.

For her, Memphis needs to be like one huge neighborhood.

“For us to move forward as a city, we have got to focus on how we help our young people,” McKissack says. “It’s the nucleus for safety in our community. Growth, in terms of having a very strong workforce. And that is my driving force for running for mayor – to put the emphasis back on young people.”

Read more here about McKissack here: The War for Peace: Mayoral candidate Michelle McKissack wants a safer Memphis for all

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

In her own words

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

Michelle McKissack: Wherever I go in Memphis, people are telling me that they are concerned about crime and safety. As mayor of Memphis, I will lead a holistic campaign to reclaim our safety, rebuild community trust and increase police morale. My Whole City Memphis Safety Plan takes a smart-on-crime approach to reclaim our safety through what I call the three P’s: partnering with police, providing justice and preventing crime.

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

We need more resources for our police department. I propose we hire more detectives who solve crimes rather than hiring more patrol officers who respond to crime. In this manner, we can move beyond just one in five crimes being solved. Also, there are far too many rape kits that have not been processed. We must invest in a crime laboratory to respond to the needs of Memphians, especially women.

The budget spending also drives economic development. The grants and subsidies that amount to more than $40 million often benefits just a few of our citizens rather than the whole city. Therefore, my focus is also scrutinizing the impacts of each budget “spend” to maximize benefit for the greater Memphis.

Is the City of Memphis going in the right direction?

Memphis is at a critical moment. The next administration will drastically affect whether our lives truly improve. We need a mayor who is experienced, always chooses Memphis and is willing to shake up the status quo for the benefit of everyone in Memphis.

Would you ever be in favor of increasing property taxes?

Before I consider raising taxes, I will first determine where we are not effectively using our current budget. I find it troublesome that whenever the budget becomes tight, leaders always look to make cuts from our everyday workers.

Rather, I would review the major contracts that the City of Memphis has given to large developers, corporations and outsourcers. Those contracts that are not hitting benchmarks and not providing the promised value to Memphians must be renegotiated.

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 believe that I should achieve the goals of Memphians. 

What do you think are the keys to your success?

I have worked across multiple sectors, from serving as a former local news anchor and reporter to leading on the Memphis-Shelby County Schools board and the MATA board. I know what it’s like living in Memphis, coming from humble beginnings. I was raised as one of five children who took the city bus growing up to school because we either had one car or no car the entire time growing up. That’s why I serve on the MATA board.

What was the last book you read?

“Memphis,” by Tara M. Stringfellow, a local Memphian author who was also my sons’ English teacher.

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

A six-bone plate from Cozy Corner with beans and coleslaw. I never get tired of it. 

What talent or skill do you wish you had?

If I could have one talent, it would be to do a perfect cartwheel. I cheered in high school and college, and my cartwheels were pristine. Now, I’m not sure if my skills would be good enough to get on the team.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

I love to travel to new exciting places. I have had a sense of wanderlust since I was a child. Growing up, I would go to my neighborhood library and read about far-off fantastical places. Now, as an adult, I get to travel to these places. I am living my childhood dream.


Michelle McKissack 2023 Memphis Mayor's race


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