Mayor's Race

Memphis Mayor’s Race 2023: Van Turner

By , Daily Memphian Updated: September 05, 2023 1:55 PM CT | Published: September 05, 2023 1:43 PM CT

When he returned to Memphis in 2002 after law school in Knoxville, Van Turner Jr. didn’t see much of a path to elected office.

“A C Wharton had just won county mayor, W.W. Herenton was city mayor, Harold Ford Jr. was Congressman,” said Turner, a former Shelby County commissioner who’s a candidate for Memphis mayor.

“They were there as long as they wanted to be,” he said.

Van Turner has had plenty of stops on path to mayor’s race

What changed for Turner and other Generation X politicos was term limits, which began for the Shelby County Commission and county mayor in 1998 and for the Memphis mayor and city council in 2011.

As Turner heads into the final weeks of the Memphis mayoral race, his campaign has been shaped by his time on the Shelby County Commission as well as his own journey from — and then back to — Memphis.

But it’s a campaign that’s also been shaped by criticism of his not living in the Memphis city limits until recently, along with criticism that he is not tough enough on crime. 

Read more about Turner here: Van Turner has had plenty of stops on path to mayor’s race

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

In his own words

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

Van Turner: Moving Memphis into the future starts with ensuring that our community is safe. We can prevent crime by getting to the root cause, which is poverty. That means investing in young people with expanded job opportunities, mentoring and community centers.

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

Ensuring public safety means investing in an additional 500 police officers. And I’ll look to cut down on waste, fraud and abuse.

Is the City of Memphis going in the right direction?

I’m a proud son of Memphis, and my roots run deep here. Honoring our past and moving ourselves into the future is my goal as mayor. I am the only candidate with both the experience to deliver on day one and the vision to move us forward.

Would you ever be in favor of increasing property taxes?

I am not planning on increasing property taxes.

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?

As a former Shelby County Commissioner, I worked hard to represent folks’ views. If you vote for me, I’ll continue that mindset and make the tough decisions as they arise.

What do you think are the keys to your success?

Education, church and community. Both my mother and wife are educators, so ensuring a strong education foundation is everything for me. Sitting in the pews and standing at the pulpit gave me moral grounding and confidence.

Neighbors and friends steered me in the right direction and put me on the path I’m on today.

What was the last book you read?

“The 1619 Project” created by Nikole Hannah-Jones.

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

A&R Bar-B-Que.

What talent or skill do you wish you had?

I wish I could play the piano and sing.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

Raising my beautiful talented children and traveling with my wife, Tamara.


Van Turner 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