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MSCS Chairwoman Michelle McKissack considers mayoral run

Memphis voters won't choose a new mayor until October of next year, but the field of candidates is growing.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — Another familiar name joins the list of candidates in the 2023 election for the next Mayor of Memphis.

This one stands out not just because you may know the name from local TV news or the Memphis-Shelby County School Board.

It's because Michelle McKissack is a woman and the first to jump into the race for Memphis mayor.

Having been a news anchor and chair of the school board may help her campaign, but she's kicking off her quest for the Mayor's office with the discussion of the city's crime and public safety problems.

While McKissack is the first woman to announce a possible run for Memphis Mayor in the upcoming election, she's certainly not the first.

Former Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer ran in the last election.

Then there was former state lawmaker Carol Chumney, who came pretty close to becoming the city's first woman mayor in 2007.

ABC24 Political Analyst and Commentator Otis Sanford said as a woman, McKissack brings perspective as a mother to this race, and public trust from local news consumers could even win over some voters, but Sanford said he sees one major challenge for the contender for mayor.

"I think her number one challenging issue she's going to have to face is her performance on the Memphis-Shelby County School Board, specifically how did you respond as chairperson of the school board at a very crucial time and that was with the investigation of Dr. Joris Ray," said Sanford.

As Chair of the Memphis-Shelby County School Board McKissack led and spoke for the body when an investigation was launched into the possible misconduct of then-Superintendent Ray. That outside investigation was concluded when Ray resigned several weeks into the probe that district attorneys said cost MSCS $11,000, but yielded no answers because the board said since Ray had resigned from the District there was no longer a need to hold him accountable.

Right now, 3 campaigns are underway including former Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner, President & CEO of the Downtown Memphis Commission; Paul Young, and once TV Judge Joe Brown.

Other names flirting with campaigns for Memphis mayor include another woman, Tennessee State representative Karen Camper and Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner.

None have declared candidacy and there could be others to join the field.

Election Day is next October and McKissack has a long campaign ahead.

"It's just going to be a matter of her appealing to voters and having a strong solid message that people can understand and get behind," said Sanford.


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