Name: Cody Fletcher
Candidate for: City Council District 9, Position 3
Date of Birth: 12-01-1985
Occupation: University District Development Officer, The University of Memphis
- High School: Rosemark Academy
- College: The University of Memphis
- Masters/Ph.D (if applicable): B.A., Economics
Family: Married to Lydia since 2013. We have one son, Ellis, who is turning 5.
Community Involvement: Vice President, East Buntyn Historic District Neighborhood Association
Blight Elimination Steering Team
City of Memphis Youth Guidance Commission
HARC Angel Community Service Award Recipient
Mayor Strickland Transition Team
Official Campaign Website: https://www.fletcherformemphis.com/
1. What background/experience distinguishes you from the other candidates who want voters to elect them?
As an economic development professional and neighborhood advocate, I have extensive experience in improving Memphis neighborhoods, attracting new business and jobs, and cleaning up blight and litter. I serve as Executive Director of a neighborhood development corporation whose mission is to create a thriving community and better quality of life for the area surrounding The University of Memphis. I have fought negligent property owners in Environmental Court and forced them to clean up. I believe my experience in development and improving neighborhoods has prepared me to serve on our City Council.
2. What are the top three issues facing the City of Memphis?
The top three challenges facing District 9 are crime, blight and litter, and attracting better jobs. I’ve knocked on thousands of doors and Memphians are very concerned about getting crime under control. I believe having better job opportunities and workforce development is key to reducing our crime rate. As a Councilman, I will work hard to grow our local economy so that all citizens have a fair shot at getting a good job and providing for their families.
3. What do you propose to address the three issues you rank as top priorities?
To address crime, we must rebuild the Memphis Police Department to 2,400 officers, support the BLUE Crush program, and provide the proper tools and technology officers need to do their jobs. By increasing the number of officers, we can relieve some of the stress and pressure officers face so they will be better positioned to engage in community policing, getting to know the people they serve.
We must be strong on economic development by building up our workforce, strengthening our minority and women owned small businesses, and creating a business-friendly economy across Memphis. We must also continue to invest in Universal Pre-K.
Memphis must get serious about battling blight and litter. Some areas of our city are forced to deal with negligent property owners and chronic litter problems. Expanding programs like Hospitality Hub’s Work Local and continuing to put pressure on negligent property owners are keys to solving these issues. We must also enforce the laws we have in place through Code Enforcement and MPD. Memphians deserve to live in a city they’re proud of.
4. Do you favor the call for a half-cent sales tax increase to restore healthcare and retirement benefits for police officers and firefighters cut in 2014?
I will always support our police and firefighters. There are a number of unresolved issues with this referendum question. First and most importantly, is that any sales tax increase goes to the City of Memphis general fund. This may mean that while the referendum says the funds should go to healthcare and retirement benefits, the Council may choose to use the funds as they see fit. When the tax becomes operational, no member of Council will have been present when the changes to healthcare and retirement were made in 2014. It would seem appropriate that those promoting the increased taxes fully explain who will benefit and how the funds will be properly allocated. I support the opportunity for Memphians to have their say on whether or not to raise the sales tax. As a Council member, I will be extremely careful in budgeting those tax dollars and will expect them to be used appropriately.
5. Do you think the local PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program needs to be reformed? If so, why and how?
I believe we must continue to be strong on economic development in Memphis. We must continue to recruit great companies and high-paying jobs to our city. The issuance of PILOTs helps accomplish this while increasing our local tax base, which translates to more funding for city services like paving streets and summer youth programming. PILOTs for the most part, are awarded because companies meet or exceed criteria for numbers of jobs, wages, benefits, locations, and overall investment. Reforms to the process should include: criteria must be regularly updated to reflect current local market conditions, and second, there needs to be strict enforcement of the terms of the PILOTs. Failure to meet the criteria must be dealt with swiftly and taxes owed to the City of Memphis repaid. Otherwise, PILOTs are a vital tool needed by the City to attract business, create jobs, and improve the Memphis economy.
6. Do you see a risk of displacement and gentrification connected to the development boom in Memphis? If so, how would you address that risk from the position you seek?
I believe, so far, we have not seen a great deal of displacement or gentrification in Memphis development. Our city is geographically so large, contains an underutilized infrastructure system, and offers so many opportunities for redevelopment that we have plenty of room to grow without displacing our citizens. We must continue to seek new development to lift up our city, while always making sure affordable housing is preserved.
7. African-American-owned businesses have made up only 1 percent of all Memphis business receipts for several decades. If elected, do you see playing a role in changing that statistic? If so, what do you think that role would entail?
We must strive to increase the number of African-American-owned businesses in Memphis and also work hard to make sure these businesses receive a fair share of city business contracts. As a City Council member with city budget oversight, I will work hard to ensure the budget reflects an effort to increase these numbers. I will support the City of Memphis Office of Business Diversity & Compliance in helping minority owned businesses receive certification and increased capacity.