Council Makes History, Three Appointees’ Priorities Vary

Published on: January 9, 2019

By Maya Smith, Memphis Flyer

Back at full strength with 13 members, the Memphis City Council saw many historical firsts Tuesday night with the appointments of Gerre Currie, Sherman Greer, and Cheyenne Johnson.

This is the first time in council history:

•Eight African-American members make up the majority of the body.

•Four African-American women will serve together on the council.

•Three appointed members will serve at the same time.

•A member of the Ford family has not held the District 6 seat (since 1972).

City Council chair Kemp Conrad anticipates working with the group, collaborating, executing, and “getting stuff done.”

“I was thrilled and privileged to lead the meeting last night,” Conrad said. “I think we have a great group down there. It’s amazing what can happen when you bring people together with different backgrounds and experience for a common purpose. It’s powerful.”

The three newly-appointed members will serve through 2019, with the option of running in October for a full four-year term.

In the meantime, some of the priorities of the trio include economic development, housing, and retiree benefits.

Representing District 1, Greer is the executive director of government relations at Southwest Tennessee Community College. In the past, Greer has worked with U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen and Harold Ford Jr.

Greer said he wants to focus on engaging youth through programs in his district.

“I was one of those kids with a single parent, at home with nothing to do at times,” Greer said. “I don’t think one council member can change that, but we have to find some way to get young males engaged and employed.”

Greer also said he’d like to see Frayser, which sits in his district, to “flourish more.”

“Frayser is one of the best communities in the whole city,” Greer said. “I lived in Frayser and grew up in Frayser. It’s situated in a perfect spot for growth.”

Additionally, Greer said he plans to address city retiree benefits down the road.

“I’ll probably take a hit for this, but it’s something we have to go back to and address down the road,” Greer said. “I think that’s something we have to look at and really come to a consensus.

“Like I said, it’s all about compromising and doing what’s right by people who have served."

Johnson, who now represents Super District 8-2, is a former Shelby County Assessor of Property. She said her main goal is to promote economic growth in the district and throughout the city.

“What can we actually do to bring resources to the city?” Johnson said. “How can we encourage people to understand what economics is all about?”

Gerre Currie, representing District 6, is a community development officer at Financial Federal Bank. During her time on the council, she said her main priority will be improving Memphis’ housing stock, as well as commercial development.

“Housing is always needed,” Currie said. “It’s important and it’s critical. My focus will not only be on housing, but the development that the city is experiencing now.”

Currie said she’s also looking to make sure minority businesses get their “fair share of the pie in anything that goes on in this city.”

“I’m interested in fairness across the board,” Currie said.