Candidate Justin Pearson

By Tony Jones

MEMPHIS, TN — D86 candidate Justin Pearson has scored a trifecta endorsement victory as 9th District Rep. Steve Cohen, City of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Super District 9-Position 3 City Councilman Dr. Jeff Warren have all endorsed his campaign to serve in the place of recently deceased and much beloved Rep. Barbara Cooper, whose 26 years servicing the district set a legendary standard for constituent concern.

The memory of Rep. Cooper is an obviously influential factor in the race, especially considering her daughter and longtime campaign manager Tanya Cooper is a viable candidate, but the advisory, fund raising and structural capacity of the city’s two most powerful elected officials and Councilman Warren could prove to become critical backing for Pearson, a political novice. His entry had long been a dominant back story of the race, even to the point that a write in candidacy seemed feasible.

 The grateful candidate says, “I am honored to receive these votes of confidence as this special election quickly approaches, These endorsements represent dedicated public servants who understand what it takes to lead and make a difference in our community. Their collective recognition of my passion and service record as evidence of my ability to honorably and effectively serve Memphis and the State of Tennessee as District 86 State Representative is truly humbling and inspiring.  

“I’ve known Congressman Cohen since I was interning in that office as a teenager, and but I got to know Mayor Strickland and Councilman Warren through the struggle to stop the Byhalia Connection Pipeline.” 

Via email, he further elaborated the trajectory that led to the endorsements. 

“Congressman Cohen, Mayor Strickland and Councilman Warren were all supportive of the Memphis Community Against the Pipeline and Memphis Community Against Pollution. Each were very excited about the announcement that I would seek to serve to continue Representative Cooper’s legacy and wanted to show their support by endorsing our campaign because they believe in our efforts to address social and justice issues that impact Memphis and Shelby County. Congressman Cohen had known about the protest against the pipeline but became much more engaged after MCAP’s first rally. He started assigning members of his team to work on environmental justice issues alongside us and used every power his office had to stop the pipeline. In tandem with our advocacy, legal, and community building efforts, he helped us to win. Congressman Cohen opened the door for us to directly address the United States Army Corps of Engineers to change their permitting practices for crude oil pipelines and other pipelines being constructed throughout the country. He’s continued to write letters to federal agencies and develop federal laws to advance the issues that matter to our community. ”

But as many a first timer like Pearson has learned, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” applies well to politics. Eleven candidates are still in it so far, the previously mentioned Tanya Cooper, Rod Blount, Julian T. Bolton, Juliette Eskridge, Dominique Frost, Clifford Lewis, Michael D. Porter, Will Richardson, Rebecca Robinson and Andrew “Rome” Withers. 

The election date will be Tuesday, Jan. 24th, 2023. First Day of Early Voting Wednesday, January 4, 2023; Last Day for Absentee Ballot Request Tuesday, January 17, 2023; Last Day of Early Voting Thursday, January 19; 2023 Election Day Tuesday, January 24, 2023.

The early voting locations are: Baker Community Center 7942 Church Road, Millington; Riverside Missionary Baptist Church, 3560 S. Third St. All will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14.

Availability at the Shelby County Election Commission, James Meredith Building-157 Poplar Ave. will 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan 7 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 14.