Early voting began Friday, September 13, and extends through Saturday, September 28, for the October 3 Memphis city election. Voters will be electing the mayor, all 13 seats on the city council, the city court clerk, and all three municipal court judges, as well as one local ballot measure.
Twelve candidates are on the ballot for the Memphis nonpartisan mayoral election, including incumbent Jim Strickland. Other notable candidates include former Mayor Willie Herenton and County Commissioner Tamara Sawyer.
The ballot measure would increase the city’s sales tax by an additional 0.5% (from 2.25% to 2.75%) in order to fund health benefits and pensions to the levels provided in 2014 and 2016, respectively, for fire and police public safety officers. The measure would also earmark additional revenue for roads and pre-kindergarten education. The Campaign for Public Safety, sponsored by the Memphis Police Association and the Memphis Fire Fighters Association, was the primary proponent behind the measure and backed the petition effort that qualified it for the ballot. The proposed sales tax rate is the same as five other cities in Shelby County.
In 2014, the Memphis City Council voted to cut city employee benefits in order to pay down the city’s unfunded pension liabilities. The changes increased health insurance premiums by 24%; excluded spouses who could receive healthcare from their employer; and moved all employees with less than seven and a half years of city employment to a Market Based Cash Balance 401(a) Retirement Plan. The revenue from the 2019 initiative was earmarked for increasing public safety employee benefits.
The schedule and a list of early voting locations can be found below. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Thursday, September 26. On election day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.