Pamela Moses chose Good Friday to kick off her surprise mayoral run.
Despite the unseasonably cold drizzle and dipping temperatures, the afternoon launch event, originally scheduled as an open-air, live music event in Handy Park on Beale Street, the campaign kickoff was held inside Club Handy.
Friends and supporters offered an upbeat and enthusiastic vibe for their choice for mayor, though they were few in number. Moses feels she is uniquely qualified in a way that none of the other candidates are.
“You can’t help people if you can’t empathize with them,” she said. “I know what it is to go to jail and to stand in the food stamp line and be on Section 8. I know what it’s like to be impoverished and to feel trapped by your circumstances. I am running to represent all the people in Memphis who have had these experiences and who know what it feels like to not feel like they can get justice.”
Moses is the fifth candidate to challenge the re-election bid of Mayor Jim Strickland. She joins former Memphis Mayor Willie W. Herenton, Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer, businessman Lemichael Wilson, and activist Terrence Boyce.
Her campaign slogan, “Moving Memphis Forward,” focuses mainly on two platform issues she feels are stunting the city’s growth and keeping African Americans in an impoverished state.
“Mayor Strickland has this (Memphis) 3.0 plan, and I have had conversations with his staff,” said Moses. “This 30-year plan has no provision for a light rail system for mass transportation. To move the city forward, people need to be able to get to work, to get to the doctor’s office. Really, we need a tri-state rail system because people work in other places close by.
Moses said people need transportation and good healthcare to beat their impoverished state.
“When people are immobilized and they don’t have transportation, they get stuck. People are trapped in their neighborhoods. I’m thinking about the future. In 30 years, people are still going to be stuck. The system in Memphis is designed to keep people uneducated, ignorant, and in poverty. That’s because Mayor Strickland does not care if black people are still in poverty the next 30 years, the next 20 years, the next 10 years, or in five years. He’s indifferent because he doesn’t care.”
Moses said her other major issue is the money going to policing and prisons.
“I would take the money going to police and get it back to the people,” she said. “I would invest in people, not police. I would take the funding from jails and reverse what President Ronald Reagan did—closing down mental hospitals. Those kinds of issues in our community are not being adequately addressed.
“I’m not running for myself. My campaign is for all the people who have suffered injustice and often experience racism,” she said. “I know what the problems are. I will be honest, transparent, and direct. Leaders in this city are playing games with peoples’ lives. That must change.”
Moses was born in Kingsport, Tenn. She graduated from Memphis Central High School and earned a bachelors degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, in Political Science, with a minor in African-American Studies. Her masters degree from Union University in Jackson, TN, is in Intercultural Studies, with a minor in International Business.
Moses is no supporter of Trump, but says she would make it a priority to keep him true to his promise of repairing infrastructure—roads and bridges throughout the country. Political leaders must always think in terms of what is best for the people.
“We ought to be getting federal dollars to fix our roads and bridges,” said Moses. “Forget not liking him. Focus on getting those government dollars to rebuild our infrastructure and create jobs.”