Five compete for open City Council District 3 seat

By , Daily Memphian Published: September 08, 2023 4:00 AM CT

Memphis City Council District 3, a key district, has been represented for the past eight years by Patrice Robinson, a former Memphis City Schools board member and retired Memphis Light, Gas and Water employee. 

Robinson has been a swing vote on several key issues, casting the deciding vote against Memphians voting on whether police officers and firefighters should live in the city. She was also an outspoken advocate for MLGW, her former employer, and critical of the idea that MLGW should leave the Tennessee Valley Authority. 

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Now, she’s term-limited and there are five declared candidates trying to replace her in District 3, which contains Whitehaven, Oakhaven and parts of Hickory Hill. 

The declared candidates all would like to see crime go down and their community cleaner and freer of blight. Here’s what they had to say about why people should vote for them. One candidate, Kawanias McNeary, could not be reached. 

Ricky Dixon is a retired Memphis Police Department sergeant and retired U.S. Army major.

Dixon said voters should consider him because he’s a leader and when he was in the Army, the problems of his soldiers became his problems.

He said he’s running because the state of Memphis as a city compelled him to do so and that it is a “disaster” from a public safety standpoint. Residents need better services, he said. 

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“They deserve the services that should be provided,” he said. 

He also said the city needs to further invest in youth intervention programs and it needs to fix blight because it contributes to crime. 

The election, he said, is crucial because it will decide which direction the city will go. 

James Kirkwood is a retired MPD colonel, member of the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board and pastor of Ambassadors for Christ Fellowship Church.

Kirkwood said he’s running to help bring down crime and said his experience as a precinct commander bringing down crime several years in a row would be essential to understanding how the city should combat crime. 

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He said the city needs a whole community approach to solving crime, and if it is implemented, those perpetrating the crimes — mostly young men — would change their ways. 

“Whatever problems we have, we can solve them together. And we can get a lot of momentum quickly. I also know that when young men who are moving in the wrong direction ... see the community coming together to rally around them, to assist them, they begin to listen,” Kirkwood said. 

Towanna Murphy is an educator and talk show host of The Towanna Murphy Show.

Murphy said everything in Memphis comes back to crime and violence, including how the community looks. She, like several other candidates in District 3, sees how the community looks as an essential part of reducing crime. She wants the blight reduced. 

She said Shelby County Environmental Court needs to impose tougher fines on properties. 

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Murphy said she’s approachable and would work hard on the issues her constituents had. The violence she sees in the community compelled her to run, she said. 

“And I want to see our children grow and be prosperous. And I’m not seeing that because we’re not educating our kids and we’re not seeing to the crime and violence in the city. And with that being said, I’m running because I’m tired of seeing our kids die on the street,” Murphy said. 

Pearl Walker is a community advocate.

Walker, a longtime community advocate, said she brings a wealth of community experience to the race that would serve her potential constituents well. 

She said the biggest issue facing her community beyond crime is the information gap between residents and the city. She noted the city has a new website but many people she tries to help don’t know whom to call about blight. 

Walker said the key to fixing crime is further investment in youth intervention programs and the city’s office of youth services. She said she would use the $50 million debt cliff — money that the city won’t have to spend on debt in 2026 — to fund more youth programs. 

“Fund them so they can do more,” she said. 

Samuel Hardiman

Samuel Hardiman

Samuel Hardiman is an enterprise and investigative reporter who focuses on local government and politics. A native Rhode Islander who lives in Midtown, there’s a good chance he is Midtown Donuts' top customer.


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