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Council District 7 race crowded with Easter-Thomas challengers

By , Daily Memphian Updated: September 12, 2023 3:38 PM CT | Published: September 12, 2023 4:00 AM CT

In the coming days, The Daily Memphian will be previewing each of the City Council races on the Oct. 5 ballot. The stories are being made available to all readers.

The race for Memphis City Council’s District 7 seat always draws a lot of contenders and, as a result, usually goes to a runoff election.

This year it has one of the two largest fields of council contenders with seven candidates. (The Super District 8 Position 3 race has also drawn a field of seven.)

Two challengers look to unseat incumbent in District 6 race

Here are the candidates for District 7, which covers parts of Frayser, North Memphis, Downtown, Uptown and Mud Island. 

Edward Douglas is the operations manager and student coach for the University of Memphis men’s basketball team, according to his LinkedIn page, and recently graduated with a degree in business economics. 

Douglas sought an appointment, which he did not receive, to one of the three open council seats in 2018 when three council members won county government offices. 

Michalyn Easter-Thomas is the incumbent District 7 council member. She is the education initiatives and strategic partnerships director of the Memphis River Parks Partnership and formerly worked as a teacher with Memphis-Shelby County Schools.

Jimmy Hassan owns Fashion Corner Men’s Store in the Hollywood-Chelsea area who ran for the seat four years ago on his experience as a small business owner.

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Hassan’s store has been in business for 30 years.

Jarrett “JP” Parks has been a Shelby County Sheriff’s Office deputy for 18 years. Parks is emphasizing his law enforcement background and says he wants to empower entrepreneurs.

Dee Reed works in the accounting department of Wesley Living and has interned in city government, specifically in the parks division. Reed has also worked in the city’s summer camp programs.

Austin Rowe is a real estate agent and president of the Mid-South LGBT Chamber. He is also Memphis chapter president of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals.

Larry Springfield is co-owner of Suga Shack restaurant on Beale Street and head of Springfield Enterprises. He’s also an entertainer who won the Star Search television talent competition in 1991 and recorded an album.

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Springfield has run for the council seat several times over the years including in 2019.

Police reform, park renaming, North Memphis grocery among Easter-Thomas’ council work

In 2019, Easter-Thomas and incumbent Berlin Boyd ended up in a November runoff following the 10-candidate election in October. Easter-Thomas defeated Boyd with a more than three-to-one vote margin.

Easter-Thomas’s term on the council has included backing and proposing police reform measures and establishing a renaming commission to review new names for city parks and other public spaces. 

As her four-year term nears an end, Easter-Thomas has gone from being an American history teacher, a teacher’s coach and coordinator of advanced academics at Overton High School to a new role with MRPP.

The job with the partnership means Easter-Thomas is recusing herself from all votes involving the partnership’s management of several city parks bordering the Mississippi River.

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The matter was referred to a city ethics counsel shortly after Easter-Thomas announced she had taken the job.

It was not the first time Easter-Thomas ran into ethics trouble as a council member. Her lack of recusal on votes appropriating grant dollars to her husband’s then-employer attracted scrutiny.

One of her primary goals on the council has been the creation of a grocery store with a health and financial resource center in the North Memphis part of her district.

The idea, using city incentives through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, now includes a site at Tunica Street and Chelsea Avenue and involves Promise Development Corp.

District 7 has recent runoff history

If no candidate in the race gets a majority of the votes in the Oct. 5 election, the top two vote-getters advance to a Nov. 16 runoff.

The runoff provision applies only to the seven single-member district council seats.

District 2 Council race has six candidates and one main issue — crime

District 7 has gone to a runoff in the last three city elections.

The 2015 race featured a field of nine with Boyd and Anthony Anderson going to a November runoff that Boyd won.

The 2011 race had a field of 14 contenders with Lee Harris and Kemba Ford at the top of the field separated by a four-vote margin.

Harris won the November runoff. He was later elected to the state Senate and is currently in his second term as Shelby County Mayor.


2023 Memphis elections Memphis City Council Michalyn Easter-Thomas

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Bill Dries

Bill Dries

Bill Dries covers city and county government and politics. He is a native Memphian and has been a reporter for more than 40 years.


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