House District 91 Candidates Share Stage

By Bill Dries

For the first time in a shortened campaign season, all seven candidates in the Oct. 8 Democratic primary for state House District 91 shared the same stage.

Early voting in the state House District 91 Democratic primary continues through Thursday, Oct. 3. All seven candidates for the position shared the stage at a forum Monday night.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

Early voting in the primary continues through Thursday, Oct. 3.

Speaking at a forum at Magnolia First Baptist Church in South Memphis Monday, Sept. 30, the contenders for the seat held by the late Democrat Lois DeBerry for 41 years invoked her name and touted their own credentials. There are no Republican candidates, and so no Republican primary. The winner of the primary advances to the Nov. 21 special general election to face independent candidate Jim Tomasik.

“I have a direct line to someone who walks the walk and talks the talk,” said Kemba Ford, the daughter of former state Sen. John Ford. “John Ford and Harold Ford Sr. changed the game on constituent services.”

Terica Lamb – a Shelby County Trustee’s office employee who started her own third-party logistics firm, Total Control Logistics – emphasized her background as a mother of school-age children and her “critical thinking skills as an engineer.”

“I am not a politician,” she added. “I am simply a working mother.”

Attorney Raumesh Akbari talked of her background in a small, family-owned business as well as the lack of any black attorneys in the state House.

“I’m a product of small business,” she said. “I’m a fighter. I am educated.”

“This was a beautiful working-class community ... . There’s a whole different dynamic now.”

– Doris DeBerry Bradshaw

Doris DeBerry Bradshaw, a cousin of DeBerry’s and the sister of state Rep. John DeBerry, told the group of 30 assembled after weekly Bible studies that she has been “surrounded by politicians most of my life.”

“This was a beautiful working-class community at one time,” she said of the South Memphis district and the area around the church, near South Parkway and Lamar Avenue. “There’s a whole different dynamic now, and we must change it.”

Joshua Forbes is a political newcomer who came to Memphis to attend All Saints Bible College after seeing a picture of the city’s skyline on a website. What he saw in the inner city didn’t match the image.

“I was in a different Memphis,” Forbes said of his initial experience.

Forbes has worked in the Alcy-Ball community of South Memphis to keep Alcy Elementary School open, which earlier this year was included on another list of proposed school closings in the Shelby County Schools system.

“The fight is still ahead of us,” he said of the proposed closing, as he talked of “holistic community transformation.”

“Nothing ever trickles down to us,” he said, terming the Criminal Justice Center the “No. 1 moneymaker in Shelby County.”

“They tell criminals crime doesn’t pay. It sure does for Shelby County.”

Clifford Lewis has run for office before and runs a home rehab business with his son. Lewis grew up in the Boxtown area of South Memphis before it was annexed into the city of Memphis.

Lewis said he could work with the Republican supermajority in the House.

“I don’t think I have a problem getting along with the good ol’ boys,” he said. “My thing is to get in line.”

Kermit Moore, the regional director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, took the opposite approach.

“I will stand up to the supermajority in Nashville,” said Moore, who is one of the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging the 2011 redistricting of the state Senate and House.