Breaking News
More () »

Did you miss our Memphis mayoral debate? Here are the highlights from 'Your Voice, Your Vote' 2023

Six candidates covered everything from crime, the arrival of BlueOval City, how the city's population has shifted and plans for the music and entertainment industry.

Six candidates set for the 2023 Memphis mayoral election took to the stage at Memphis Music Room on Monday, Sept. 11 to hash out what exactly is at stake for the future of the city based on who is chosen as it's next leader.

ABC24 partnered with the Tri-State Defender to bring a live 90-minute debate to the public with weeknight anchor Richard Ransom as host and moderator. ABC24 Political Analyst Otis Sanford and the Tri-State Defender’s Education Columnist Curtis Weathers joined Ransom for “Your Voice, Your Vote: 2023 Mayoral Debate.” 

Based on their polling and fundraising numbers, the following candidates (in alphabetical order) were both chosen and also decided to participate: Floyd Bonner, Karen Camper,  JW Gibson, Michelle McKissack, Van Turner and Paul Young.

Without commercial interruption, Memphis' public got to hear these six figures cover everything from crime, the arrival of BlueOval City, how the city's population has shifted over decades and goals for utilizing Memphis' music and greater entertainment industry.

Here are selections from questions asked to each of the six candidates:

Paul Young addresses why he voted in past Republican primaries 

Memphis mayoral candidate Paul Young stated "the people of Memphis need results, not partisanship" when asked about why, as a Democrat, he voted in two Republican primaries in the past. At a later point, candidate Van Turner referenced Nashville and lack of gun legislation as an example as to how the two different parties govern.

Van Turner on why voters should trust him despite him living outside of the city

Floyd Bonner and Van Turner were both the subject of a lawsuit from the Memphis City Council claiming their running went against the city's residency requirements. The council argued in May that this the five-year residency requirement was thrown out, and mayoral candidates are not subject to that rule.

Michelle McKissack addresses lack of results from superintendent search

Memphis-Shelby County Schools board commissioner Michelle McKissack stated her intentions for becoming Memphis' chief executive amidst criticisms that the school system has not accomplished replacing their superintendent yet. On the debate stage, McKissack answered how she believes she can lead the city and referenced making decisions through the COVID-19 pandemic for schools.

JW Gibson speaks on why he spent a decade away from political office

Memphis mayoral candidate JW Gibson hasn't held elected office since 2010 when he was on the Shelby County Commission. Gibson spoke to his time away from politics, stating he believes that that "not much has changed" in regards to the problems and constituents of Memphis.

Karen Camper argues her time at the Tennessee Legislature has been a success, not a failure

Karen Camper has been a Tennessee House Representative for 15 years. In throwing her hat in the ring for Memphis mayor, she referenced an expungement bill on the debate stage as well as a mental-health focused bill for Memphis that she worked on.

Floyd Bonner discusses inmate deaths at county jail, trust after Tyre Nichols case

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner spoke to criticisms regarding 44 deaths that have taken place in 201 Poplar since he became sheriff. He said that the jail is only one of 41 jails that report deaths within their facilities.

Here is what ABC24 would have asked Willie Herenton on the debate stage

Finally, former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton was invited to participate in the “Your Voice, Your Vote: 2023 Mayoral Debate” on ABC24, but he chose not to attend. Management at the station decided that declining to attend a public debate means anyone should avoid accountability in a debate setting, so the question specifically chosen for Herenton was shared.

You can watch the full debate with this YouTube link.

Before You Leave, Check This Out