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Memphis Mayor Strickland touches on range of timely topics in monthly interview with ABC24

The mayor touched on criminal justice reform, the mayoral residency decision, and planned stadium/arena upgrades.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — In his monthly interview with ABC24, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland touched on a range of topics impacting the Bluff City, today and beyond.

Crime in the city

On the same day Memphis Police gave away free steering wheel locks at two MPD precincts, Mayor Strickland pointed to the more than 2,100 people have been arrested since the start of 2022 for auto theft.

The mayor argued the surge in such arrests for auto theft, which is a felony, require stiffer punishment from judges.

"Therefore we see this continuing at skyrocketing rates, auto thefts are really beyond belief, they are out of control because these criminals feel no consequences for their actions and that's with these low bonds, weak sentences and just the whole system. And I'm not just saying the DA - all of 201 Poplar and juvenile court because, you know, 30 or 40% of these are juveniles doing the work," Mayor Strickland said. "When there is no consequence to a serious action, the negative action is going to continue."

Gun Reform

Mayor Strickland also weighed in about a proposal from Memphis City Council members to put a voter referendum tied to gun reforms on the ballot in 2024. If passed, experts expect there will be a legal challenge from the state, since the referendum, if passed, would challenge existing state laws on gun rights.

"I think everyone needs to understand it cannot be enforced, but maybe it can play a galvanizing role in this state debate on regulations for guns, the special session we have coming up, the sessions we have every spring," Mayor Strickland added.

Mayoral race residency debate

The mayor also reacted to last week's ruling by a Shelby County Chancery Court Judge, who said the previous five-year residency requirement is no longer in effect. That ruling allows candidates Floyd Bonner and Van Turner the ability to run in the October mayoral election.

Mayor Strickland spoke on the new state of the race following the ruling.

"You can't underestimate the importance of broad-based support and financial support, and I think you are going to see some candidates over the next couple of months separate themselves from each other with that broad-based support and that financial support. But it's going to be a great race and I tell people all the time that there are really good quality people running," Mayor Strickland said.

Arena & stadium upgrades

The mayor said he also plans to use his final seven-plus months in office to tie up planned state funding to upgrade FedExForum and Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.

Mayor Strickland said he will present updated plans on how the money will be spent this summer, with the hopes construction can start at Liberty Stadium in January and after the NBA season at FedExForum. 

He said the upgrades at FedExForum are linked to extending the Memphis Grizzlies commitment to stay in Memphis beyond the current agreement, which expires in 2029.

"A long-range deal is absolutely a requirement, and the Grizzlies want to stay in Memphis and they are committed to staying here, so it has to got both be tied together," Mayor Strickland said.

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