With Bartlett Mayor A. Keith McDonald retiring from office next fall, candidates interested in filling his seat are preparing to ramp up their campaigns for the Nov. 8 election.
Bartlett’s alderman positions 1, 2 and 3 are also on the November ballot. The other three alderman positions — 4, 5 and 6 — have another two years left for those four-year terms.
Aldermen David Parsons (Position 3) and Bobby Simmons (Position 4) along with Bartlett Police Department officer Brent Hammonds announced their candidacy for Bartlett mayor earlier this year.
Parsons already has McDonald’s endorsement to become the suburb’s elected leader.
“I think a newcomer would have a real challenge just to step into the political stratum when you’ve got someone like David Parsons running, who has owned a business and had to make decisions through all kinds of economic times,” McDonald said.
Parsons, owner of David Parsons Construction, has served as alderman since 2002 and also served as vice mayor. He was planning to run for mayor in 2020 until McDonald decided to run again for one more term.
“The reason I’m running is I want to lead Bartlett into a new era,” said Parsons, who plans to focus on economic growth and fiscal responsibility. “I grew up here in Bartlett, raised my kids here, and my business has always been based here, so I want to make sure the city is as good a place to raise my grandkids as I experienced when I was a kid growing up.”
Simmons, a former deputy sheriff with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, was elected alderman in 2004.
“(This) year, I’ll be out there knocking on doors and talking to the people,” Simmons said of his campaign strategy. “I enjoy being in a position where I can help people.”
He sees the Ford plant planned for Blue Oval City in Haywood County as hugely beneficial to Bartlett’s future, as a portion of the workforce there is expected to live in the suburb.
Simmons ran unopposed in his 2020 re-election campaign to win his fifth term as alderman. If he wins the mayoral race, he will vacate that seat. If he is unsuccessful, he will retain the alderman office until his current term ends in 2024.
Hammonds has spent nearly 25 years with the BPD protecting Bartlett.
“With Mayor McDonald stepping down and retiring, I’ve had a lot of my friends ask for younger leadership within the city,” said Hammonds. “Many of the same people have been in the same positions now for a long time.”He plans to focus on bringing new businesses to the city, helping retain the school system’s success, and maintaining the city’s high safety standards.
If elected, he would quit his job with the police department to assume the full-time mayoral duties.
With Bartlett’s Chief Administrative Officer Mark Brown also retiring next year, Vice Mayor Jack Young believes whoever takes over as mayor will have a tough job in front of them.
“The mayor’s job is really a full-time, difficult position that needs somebody who is fully qualified,” he said. “It’s going to be a big change for whoever steps in. It’s not just kissing the babies, shaking hands and doing ribbon cuttings. There’s a lot that goes into managing a city this size.”
W.C. “Bubba” Pleasant is retiring next year after 16 years as alderman in the Position 1 seat.
“I feel like at my age (76) we need to let some younger people get a chance to run,” said Pleasant, who worked for the Memphis Fire Department for 33 years and served 10 years as a state representative before becoming an alderman. “I’m pretty sure I could’ve run again and won, but it wouldn’t have been fair to the citizens.”
With Pleasant retiring and Parsons running for mayor, at least two of the three alderman seats are open for the November election. Alderwoman Emily Elliott in Position 2, said she plans to make her decision on re-election near the May filling deadline. She has held the office since 1998.
Christopher-Michael Barnes and Jimmy Norman plan to challenge for the Position 1 seat vacated by Pleasant.
Barnes is a vice president with Truist Bank and founder and lead pastor of Bartlett’s Growth Central Church.
“With Bartlett being as dynamic and diverse as it is, we need to become more open in diversity in leadership. There’s a lot to be done and a lot of bridges to be built, and I want to be a part of making Bartlett better,” Barnes said. “I’m looking forward to finding fresh ways of maybe bringing the tax level down while moving Bartlett forward.”
Norman, a longtime Bartlett realtor, has lived in the suburb since 2010, owned property in the city for more than four decades and is the founder of Norman Realtors.
“I’m running for alderman because I just thought it was time for me to give back to the community,” he said. “I’d like to see more businesses in Bartlett. We’ve got a lot of vacant buildings up and down Stage Road, and I would like to help us get some of them filled up.”