It is a priority of The New Tri-State Defender to provide insight and leadership to its readers and the community-at-large in assessing key issues that impact the future of our city, county and region, including elections and the selection of candidates vying for elected office.
This election year is a critically important one. Voters are faced with the opportunity to vote for change or to continue to support current leadership and results. Depending on your plight and experiences over the past 4 to 6 years, your choice might be radically different from that of another.
The Aug. 7th ballot is the longest in the history of Shelby County elections and requires a bit of diligence, understanding and resilience to navigate and complete. Several weeks ago, the TSD published a Voter Education Guide, including the entire ballot, to allow voters an opportunity to do homework with a preview prior to going to the polls. Understanding the length of the ballot, the many contested races and the importance of this election we are weighing in on several select races and endorsing some candidates in critical roles.
We established a questionnaire/interview process in which we invited candidates in select races to participate as a way of gathering both objective and subjective information. In those instances where we did not solicit a questionnaire nor receive one, we used public information, candidate literature and research to evaluate candidates. The information was synthesized and used in the selection of the candidates we chose to endorse.
As a multi-media outlet with a primary focus on the perspective and issues of the African-American community, we established criterion by which we selected the candidates for endorsement. The process of setting the criterion began with a critical analysis of the current state of African Americans in Memphis and Shelby County. At a U.S. Census-counted 64.1
percent of the population of Memphis and nearly 55 percent in Shelby County, any policies, strategies or approaches that don’t address long existing disparities will ultimately fail this community.
Significant disparities exist in imprisonment rates, health care, crime and violence, education and economic prosperity and, more importantly, in the availability of resources and opportunities that would open the door for these circumstances to begin to dynamically – or even moderately – shift towards more positive trends. Unfortunately, many of these things have gotten worse since the Great Recession of 2007 and require bold, visionary leadership to improve.
From our point of view candidates must intrinsically understand these dynamics and how they impact the welfare of our entire city and county. We will endorse candidates – regardless of race or party affiliation – that represent the best vision, that can present solution-oriented plans of action, and exhibit the best ability to execute and deliver on those plans.
The New Tri-State Defender makes the following endorsements:
U.S. Congress 9th District: Ricky E. Wilkins
District Attorney: Judge Joe Brown
Shelby County Mayor: Deidre Malone
Juvenile Court Judge: Judge Tarik B. Sugarmon
Criminal Court Clerk: Wanda Halbert
Juvenile Court Clerk: Henri Brooks
Shelby County Sheriff: Bill Oldham
Shelby County Trustee: David Lenoir
Tenn. Supreme Court: Retain Judges Cornelia Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade
We will provide more analysis on each race and the endorsement decision over the next several days via our daily digital editions.