Incumbent Jim Strickland defeated former Mayor Willie Herenton, Shelby County Commissioner Tamara Sawyer, and nine other candidates to win election to a second four-year term as mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, October 3. As of 9:00 p.m. Central Time, Strickland had received 63% of the vote to Herenton’s 29% and Sawyer’s 6% with 52% of precincts reporting.
Strickland was first elected in 2015, defeating incumbent A.C. Wharton with 41.3% of the vote. He said he was running to continue his first term policies, which he said included expanding the city’s police force and school system while maintaining a balanced budget and avoiding tax increases.
Herenton, who was first elected mayor in 1991 and won re-election to four subsequent terms before resigning in 2009, said that his plan to combat poverty had fallen off track after he left office. He said that he would prioritize reducing poverty using his experience from his previous term as mayor.
Sawyer was first elected to the county commission in 2018. She said that in recent years city leaders had emphasized the needs of businesses over residents and had not addressed Memphis’ long-term challenges. Sawyer pointed to her city council campaign as well as her experience with a movement calling for the removal of statues associated with the Confederacy as evidence that she could make policy.
Although the election was officially nonpartisan, Strickland, Herenton, and Sawyer are all members of the Democratic Party.