Approaching a year to the day that marked the beginning of his tenure as mayor of the City of Memphis, Jim Strickland isn’t resting on his laurels. While happy with the upward trajectory the community is taking, there is still plenty of work to do. Looking around his office, it’s quite clear that the mayor has a love for both the city and local politics.
Despite being born in Indiana, Strickland is now very much a Memphian. He graduated from Christian Brothers High School before receiving his bachelor’s and J.D. from the University of Memphis. That kickstarted a career in law, during which he opened a firm with David Kustoff (newly elected congressman for TN District 8), clerked for Justice William H.D. Fones of the Tennessee Supreme Court, and held the position of adjunct law professor at the U of M.
Despite the rigors of a legal career, Strickland paid attention to politics. “I was always interested in politics,” he says. “I interned at the state legislature when I was in college, and ran some campaigns.”
Strickland served eight years on the Memphis City Council before taking the next step. “I thought Memphis needed to go in a new direction, and that’s why I ran last year.”
After his election on the back of a campaign focused on reducing crime and poverty rates, Strickland is looking to solve the problem by helping steer youth away from crime. “We’ve really picked up on our programming, community centers, and libraries to give kids something productive to do when they’re not in school.”
The common theme running through this directive is that these programs set a foundation for an improved Memphis community. While it will take time, the building blocks set in place reflect Strickland’s outlook for the city. “I do think we’re at the beginning of a renaissance; there’s positive momentum,” he says. “An example I like to give people is ServiceMaster. They objectively looked at all these other cities and said, ‘We think Memphis is the place to be.’”
While it’s easy to be cynical about politics these days, a quick look around the Mayor’s office should assuage any doubts. Strickland has been a part of our community for years and his photos, memorabilia, and assorted knick-knacks reinforce the passion and drive he feels to enact the positive change he sees on the horizon for Memphis.