Jana Swearengen-Washington wins District 4 City Council seat, replaces sister

By , Daily Memphian Updated: November 08, 2022 11:38 PM CT | Published: November 08, 2022 11:37 PM CT
The Daily Memphian is making our election coverage free to all readers. Please consider supporting local journalism and this community by subscribing to this site or by donating to our organization. Thank you for your continued participation and support.

For the second time since August, the Memphis City Council District 4 seat has a new representative.

Jana Swearengen-Washington won Tuesday’s special election for the seat, beating the three other candidates that were up for the spot and securing her place in her family’s political history in Memphis.

Swearengen-Washington will now serve the rest of Jamita Swearengen’s term, the former councilwoman who stepped down from the seat in August after being elected as Shelby County Circuit Court clerk.

Ballot Basics: Election Day Nov. 8, 2022

Teri Dockery, who was appointed to the seat in September after Swearengen stepped down, did not run in the election.

Here are the results of the race:

Jana Swearengen-Washington: 6,259

LaTonia Blankenship: 3,240

Barry Ford: 1,719

Dewayne Jackson: 854

There were also 84 write-in votes.

The race included Blankenship, a Memphis-Shelby County Schools employee who works in its early childhood division; Ford, a navy veteran and current business systems analyst for Shelby County; Jackson, a business owner who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Shelby County Probate Court Clerk back in August; and Swearengen-Washington, an assistant principal at Forrest City Junior High in Forrest City, Arkansas, and Swearengen’s sister.

With her election, Swearengen-Washington also follows in the footsteps of two other family members that served as elected officials in Memphis.

She is the daughter of James Swearengen, the former circuit court judge and the niece of former city council member, Barbara Swearengen-Ware. 

All four candidates were mostly of one mind on what they wanted to focus on if elected. That included blight, crime and economic development in District 4, which includes Orange Mound, South Memphis and Cooper-Young.

Candidates also had other ideas unique to their campaigns. Blankenship said that she was interested in mental illness and affordable housing. For Swearengen-Washington, it was community policing. The two both mentioned education as something they wanted to focus on as well.

Voters to decide two special elections on November ballot

Jackson and Ford mentioned specific types of crime, with Ford saying he wanted to decrease youth crime by providing more opportunities for youth in the district and Jackson saying that he wanted to address speeding and reckless driving in the area.

Swearengen-Washington said Tuesday night that she was humbled to be elected.

“We are so excited and we are so thankful that the constituents believed in me enough to elect me,” she said.

City Council delays vote on Memphis in May damage deposit funding

Even though Swearengen-Washington now holds the seat, it could change hands again next year.

Swearengen only had about one year left in her term, so the seat will be up for election again on the October 2023 Memphis elections ballot.

Swearengen-Washington said that she will be running again next year.

The District 4 seat was one of two, local special elections that were on the ballot Tuesday. The other was a race for Memphis City Court Judge Division 2.


Memphis City Council Jana Swearengen-Washington Jamita Swearengen LaTonia Blankenship Barry Ford Dewayne Jackson District 4
Aarron Fleming

Aarron Fleming

Aarron Fleming covers Memphis and Shelby County’s court system and is a member of The Daily Memphian’s public safety reporting team. He formerly covered education and earned his B.A. in journalism from the University of Memphis.


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