Nicole Cleaborn


Name: Nicole Cleaborn

Candidate for: City Council District 8, Position 1

Date of Birth: 02-24-1971

Occupation: Educator

Educational Background:

    • High School: Central High School, 1990
    • College: South West-Memphis, 2007; University of Memphis, 2008
    • Masters/Ph.D (if applicable):

Family: I am part of the Cleaborn Family. My father is Milton Cleaborn, who had Cleaborn’s Drive In off S. Parkway in the ‘50s and ‘60s. He is married to my mother Beverly Cleaborn, who was a model in the ‘60s and ‘70s and has been a member of Bountiful Blessings my entire life time. Cleaborn Homes, now Cleaborn Pointe, was named after my uncle Edward O. Cleaborn in the ‘50s. My sister Marcia Jones retired from FedEx and brother Dana Cleaborn does photography throughout Memphis. LaTonya Cleaborn-Stewart is my niece and does catering.

Community Involvement: Fought to preserve the “Cleaborn” name from Cleaborn Homes to Cleaborn Pointe
Part of Vance Avenue Collaborate, which did “The Green Machine” bus
Part of the Initial Coliseum Coalition to “Save the Mid-South Coliseum”
Currently volunteers for “Saving Lost Kids”


Official Campaign Website:





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

Cleaborn’s response:

I’ve have been battling with different entities in Memphis publicly and privately long before I decided to run for City Council Super District 8-1. These issues had me at tables with people who told me no, the only way was their way, it will go the way it has always gone, and listening to me wasn’t an option. So, fighting for issues and against what has always been done is not new to me. I don’t speak in theory or hypothetical situations because I’ve actually fought fights and won. I welcome the opportunity to fight for the people in my district and move Memphis in a more progressive direction for those who have been repeatedly overlooked and undervalued. I’ve even had to fight to be present at forums in this campaign, when there were attempts to belittle and humiliate me. Certain host didn’t want people to hear me, see me, what I represent, or what I had to say because I’m not bought or backed by certain interest groups.

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

Cleaborn’s response:

The top three issues I wish to present are Poverty/Crime, Education, and Economic Development.

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

Cleaborn’s response:

I propose accountability and transparency. As a City Council person for 8-1, I would not vote to allow companies and developers in the area that did not benefit the community and the people in it. Crime and Poverty would decrease because jobs that allow people to support their families would be a requirement, not just the promise of jobs or low paying jobs. As an educator, I believe education is also key to reducing crime and poverty. For me to agree with any funds for education, I would have to see the plan that shows how students will benefit and teachers, who are actually in the classroom. So many times, money is released and once that happens the council members have no control over how it is dispersed. It never makes it to who needs it the most. I advocate for all youth to be able to receive a quality education in public schools. Gentrification is a huge issue in almost every area of Memphis. Neighborhoods should be improved and developed, but not at the cost of the people who currently live there. The people in the neighborhoods should be given the same access to funds, not just outside developers who wish to take over these areas. Minorities have not received their fair share of contracts in Memphis. The contracts given are hugely disproportionate to the population. Women must also be given their fair share! All of these things will generate and grow areas economically because decisions will be made that benefit more than the same select few.

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?

Cleaborn’s response:

Yes, I do believe benefits should be restored to police officers and firefighters.

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

Cleaborn’s response:

Yes, it needs to be reformed because too much is being given away by Memphis and little is being given in return. For Memphis property taxes are a primary source of revenue and unless there is something substantial brought to the community, the property taxes are needed.

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?

Cleaborn’s response:

Yes, I do see a risk of displacement. Gentrification is a huge issue in almost every area of Memphis. Neighborhoods should be improved and developed, but not at the cost of the people who currently live there. The people in the neighborhoods should be given the same access to funds, not just outside developers who wish to take over these areas. As a City Council person, I would not approve the development of areas by developers, in which the community and people in it didn’t benefit from. I would also have to see in writing what the people who already live in the area want, from developers meeting with the community. So many people are bought out of their homes and areas for a little of nothing which causes displacement.

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?

Cleaborn’s response:

Yes, I see myself playing a role in changing that statistic. There would be accountability for all contracts to be sure they are given out in proportion to the population. It would have to be proven that African-American owned businesses were given their fair share of contracts. I would advocate for a team to be in place to monitor contracts.