VOL. 132 | NO. 213 | Thursday, October 26, 2017
Mickell Lowery Uses Lessons From Council Race in Commission Bid
By Bill Dries
Two years to the month after he conceded defeat in his first political outing, Mickell Lowery is returning to the local political arena – albeit a different part of the arena.
Lowery is running in the May Democratic primary for Shelby County Commission District 8, the seat held by Democrat Walter Bailey, who is term-limited and cannot seek re-election in 2018.
In 2015 the district sales manager at FedEx Services ran for the Super District City Council seat held by his father, Myron Lowery, but lost to Martavius Jones by 1,702 votes of 43,000 cast in a hard-fought, three-way race that included Jacqueline Camper.
Mickell Lowery announced his bid to a house full of supporters Tuesday, Oct. 24, at his father’s home in Harbor Town on Mud Island.
“I finally dusted myself off from that loss and looked at the numbers there and all of that good stuff,” he told the crowd. “We ran a good race and still have a good message.”
He will apply that message to a County Commission district that includes parts of South Memphis and North Memphis and all of Downtown.
“We’re running on the same basis,” he said. “I still believe a strong county starts with stronger neighborhoods.”
The former president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association and current chairman of the Memphis Housing Authority board, Lowery likes the commission’s system of allocating $150,000 in county government grant money to each of the 13 commissioners, who then award the money to nonprofit community groups with the full commission voting on each of the grants.
He said the grants can be used to strengthen neighborhood groups.
“These people are taking ownership of their own communities,” he said. “They just need the resources to be able to make changes.”
The commission approves the Shelby County Schools overall budget amount and even though that does not include line item control of the budget, Lowery said if elected he hopes to focus more attention on funding for special needs students like his daughter.
“My daughter is now in the second grade and she’s been to six different schools because this school didn’t have the resources and that private school didn’t have the resources,” he said.
Lowery said he and his wife were fortunate to have the help and assistance to follow the process. Other parents, he said, may have more trouble negotiating the system or even finding out what is available for their children.
And Lowery said he will push for the growth of minority and women-owned businesses as well as local businesses.
“If we help the businesses in these communities, they can employ more people,” he said. “And when they employ more people, then they may want to start their own business.”
Among those attending Lowery’s campaign event was Bank of Bartlett president and founder Harold Byrd. The former state representative said later he is considering a bid for Shelby County mayor in the May Democratic primary but has made no decision yet.
Byrd began a bid for county mayor in 2002 but dropped out of the race before the primaries that year.
State Sen. Lee Harris has declared his candidacy in the Democratic primary for county mayor and former Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism has also said he is running.
The Republican primary for county mayor includes Trustee David Lenoir, County Commissioner Terry Roland and Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliatos.
Lowery is among contenders for the 2018 ballot who are declaring their intentions before the holidays. Candidates for county offices on the ballot in May and August can’t pull qualifying petitions until next month.
Among those declaring their intentions ahead of the holidays is Alvin Crook, a leader of the local Young Democrats organization, who is running for the Shelby County Schools board District 9 position. That is the nonpartisan seat held by Mike Kernell.
Crook got more involved in the local Democratic Party after briefly considering a bid for the County Commission in 2014. Crook withdrew from the race and supported Van Turner, who claimed the commission seat and is seeking re-election to the commission in 2018.
Four of the nine SCS board seats are on the ballot in the August county general election. Under Tennessee law, school boards are required to stagger their terms of office. The remaining five seats are on the ballot in 2020.