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Opinion | Memphis mayoral race to be about 'substance over style'

Political analyst Otis Sanford shares his thoughts on how Tyre Nichols' death has affected Memphis and what the city's next leader must have in mind moving forward.
Credit: driftwood - stock.adobe.com

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Otis Sanford reporting:

The race for Memphis mayor keeps growing seemingly by the week. Yesterday, city councilman Frank Colvett became the latest to announce a candidacy in the October municipal election. He becomes the first — and so far — only sitting council member to declare for the seat. 

Colvett, a Republican, also brings the specter of race into the campaign as the only white candidate among those considered to be serious contenders. 

Plus, social media chatter this week was teasing another possible run by former mayor Willie Herenton, including a not-so-subtle Facebook post by Herenton himself. It all has the makings of a wild, unpredictable campaign, but personalities aside, the race for mayor will come down who has the clearer and most convincing message — not just about fighting crime, but changing the culture in the police department in light of the police killing of Tyre Nichols. 

The brutal beating of Nichols touched a nerve across the country, but especially in Memphis like nothing we have experienced in decades.

Accountability for all officers involved — directly and indirectly — must occur, but there also must be a reckoning with the police department's longstanding systemic issue of abuse and dishonesty, no matter how small that element is.  

The candidates seeking to become mayor must address all that and put forth a plan to deal with it. In other words, this election will be about substance over style.

I'm Otis Sanford, and that's my point of view.  

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