Mayor's race

Memphis Mayor’s Race 2023: Paul Young

By , Daily Memphian Updated: September 05, 2023 4:44 PM CT | Published: September 05, 2023 4:44 PM CT

Paul Young’s political and public career began because his mother had a dream when he was in college. Dianne Young, a longtime pastor in Oakhaven, had a dream that her quiet son, then studying electrical engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, would be in politics. 

At first, she thought it was fulfilled when Young began his career in government, first working for Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell. Then, she said, he started telling her late husband that he wanted to run for Memphis mayor. 

It is with that dream in the background that Young has tread his slow, steady rise through local governments. After he left Shelby County, he led the city’s Division of Housing and Community Development and then became Downtown Memphis Commission CEO. Along the way, he accumulated the experience that he says makes him unique among the mayoral candidates. 

In bid for mayor, Paul Young is out to change the city’s reality

No new mayor in Memphis history, he said, would be as prepared for the mayor’s office as he is now. 

Throughout the past year, Young has worked to make his statement more than the bold proclamation of an inexperienced politician. He’s tried to speak, fund-raise and handshake it into existence.

Along the way, he’s faced questions about his past votes for Republican candidates in a heavily Democratic city, and notable incidents of crime Downtown have forced the Downtown Memphis Commission chief executive to answer questions about the business district’s safety. 

Read more about Young here: In bid for mayor, Paul Young is out to change the city’s reality

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?

Paul Young: Public safety and reducing the level of crime is the most pressing issue in Memphis today.

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

I think administrative and professional service costs should be audited and potentially represent less of our budget. Community centers, parks and mental health services all deserve a greater piece of the pie, in my opinion.

Is the City of Memphis going in the right direction?

I think right now, given the crisis we’re experiencing of crime, we can’t honestly say we’re going in the right direction.

Would you ever be in favor of increasing property taxes?

My answer is yes, but it would have to be the absolute last resort if it was required to fund the needs of our community.

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 think, at the end of the day, they’re electing you for mayor for your experience, your character and your track record, so I think they’re asking for your own judgment.

What do you think are the keys to your success?

My passion for the work I do, being a good listener. My family gives me a lot of strength and purpose.

What was the last book you read?

“Find Your Why: A practical guide for discovering purpose for you and your team,” by Simon Sinek. I thought it was a great book to remind you of the importance of articulating your purpose in everything you do.

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

Chicken and dressing with macaroni and cheese and green beans sounds like a great last meal.

What talent or skill do you wish you had?

I would love to be able to sing. It’s a way to connect with people, and I’m not gifted in that category.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

Watching basketball, playing sports with my kids and listening to music.


Paul Young 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