JB Smiley


Name: JB Smiley, Jr.

Candidate for: City Council District 8, Position 1

Date of Birth: 09-08-1987

Occupation: Attorney

Educational Background:

    • High School: Bolton High School, 2005
    • College: Tennessee Technological University, 2005 -2007, University of Pikeville 2008 -2009
    • Masters/Ph.D (if applicable): Juris Doctor – University of Arkansas Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law

Family: I am a product of parents who grew up extremely poor. My father grew up on HM Haney’s Plantation in Jonestown, MS and relocated to South Memphis after the Vietnam War. My mother was reared in the Fowler Home Housing Projects in South Memphis.

Community Involvement: NAACP – Memphis Branch, Treasurer
STS Enterprise, Youth Coach
Urban Community Ministries, Board Member
Dress for Success- Memphis, Board Member
New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Member
South Memphis Toy Extravaganza, Organizer
Harmonic South String Orchestra, Board Member
Glenview Neighborhood Association, Member
Soulsville Neighborhood Association, Member
National Bar Association – Ben F. Jones Chapter, Member


Official Campaign Website: www.votejbsmiley.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/votejbsmiley/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sirsmileyjr/


1. What background/experience distinguishes you from the other candidates who want voters to elect them?

Smiley, Jr.’s response:

The culmination of my life experiences have prepared me to serve the city well as a city councilman. Currently, I am a practicing attorney. As an attorney, I am required to research and do my part to stay abreast of any changes or proposed changes in the legislation that could potentially effect the viability of cases I may have. Also, I am the outgoing Vice President of the Shelby County Young Democrats. That role has given me the opportunity to facilitate meetings, understand Robert’s Rules of Order, and work with concerned citizens in addition to elected officials. Additional to my professional background, I have been actively working to serve the citizens of Memphis in every facet of my life, whether it is the South Memphis Toy Extravaganza that I host yearly, cleaning up trash in the community, or advocating on behalf of small business owners and under-served communities.

2. What are the top three issues facing the City of Memphis?

Smiley, Jr.’s response:

Neighborhood Investment
Criminal Justice/ Criminal Justice Reform
Economic Development

3. What do you propose to address the three issues you rank as top priorities?

Smiley, Jr.’s response:

Neighborhood Investment
For Super District 8, I will offer a comprehensive vision for community planning that leaves no neighborhood behind. We will continue the incredible revitalization that is happening in Downtown Memphis – but with greater transparency between the community and developers to further meet resident needs.
I will ensure that constituents in Whitehaven, Midtown, East, North and South Memphis feel the impact of revitalization in our parks, shopping centers, and throughout our blighted neighborhoods. Quality restaurants and vibrant entertainment districts attract small businesses, improve overall property values, and preserve resident pride.
Our community organizations throughout Super District 8 will be granted the necessary tools and support to fulfill missions that speak directly to the needs of the constituents.
Lastly, I’ll work relentlessly to ensure that no resident in Super District 8 is forced to travel more than one mile to access fresh, affordable, and healthy food to feed their families.

Criminal Justice/ Criminal Justice Reform
Our money bail system ignores that every person arrested is “innocent until proven guilty.” It also disenfranchises people of color and those from low-income areas. Still, in Memphis, we lock up thousands of individuals every year and hold them until they can pay multi-thousand dollar bails – only to later drop charges or label them “not guilty.” These individuals often lose jobs, fall behind on bills, and even lose their children while trapped behind bars and unable to pay high-dollar bails. As City Councilman, I will fight to use more appropriate tactics for having the accused show up for their day in court.

Additionally, a lot of resources are spent to identify the problems in Memphis but not enough resources are given to create the needed solutions. I will work with and support the experts in the field to develop and implement solutions.

Economic Development
I will work to recruit good corporate citizens throughout the City. I will fight for a livable wage and comprehensive benefits for the employees at every company that pursues a tax break in Memphis. I will also stand against negligent dumping, neighborhood pollutants, and wasteful use of natural resources. Current and future small businesses will discover a network of financial and professional support to help grow and maintain the businesses that are the foundation of our district.
Under my leadership, Super District 8 will see a network of businesses that are truly focused on being a complement to the families that live, work, and play in our city.

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?

Smiley, Jr.’s response:

Yes. I believe every person that serves our great city deserves healthcare and retirement benefits.

5. Do you think the local PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program needs to be reformed? If so, why and how?

Smiley, Jr.’s response:

Yes. We need a paradigm shift as it relates to PILOT programs. We need to put an emphasis on supporting locally owned and minority businesses. This will give the backbone of our community the necessary support to scale up and hire individuals in our community. Also, the fear of the locally owned and minority businesses leaving would be minimal as each business is rooted and grounded in the community.

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?

Smiley, Jr.’s response:

Whenever there is development in an under-served community, displacement and gentrification is a real and apparent fear for those who live in the aforementioned communities. I would address this concern by being sure that displacement of the families in the areas are indeed temporary. I would advocate for true and affordable housing in each area and be sure that the mixed income housing created will adequately accommodate a number of families equal to those who were displaced.

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?

Smiley, Jr.’s response:

Yes. We must be intentional about increasing the rate in which our city contracts with black owned businesses. Currently, the black owned businesses have to fight over nickles, dimes, and pennies while there counter parts share a bulk of the wealth. We have to push for a number that closely reflects our population.