Let’s make Shelby County a better, healthier place to live.
We can do this by focusing on 3E’s
A healthy Economy and job growth
A healthy Educational system
A healthy and safe Environment
We are caught in a vortex: Poor education and lack of educational opportunities lead to lower employability, which leads to poor economic and job growth, which leads to lower tax collection and insufficient funding for schools.
We can get out of this vicious cycle.
A HEALTHY ECONOMY AND JOB GROWTH
There are areas of excellence we have in Memphis: Distribution and logistics. Let’s leverage these to get economic growth.
For economic growth, we need to create employment and income opportunities for all Shelby County residents. We need to actively pursue employers, grow small businesses and stimulate interest in entrepreneurship. We need to build an educated and trained workforce. We need to provide best mix of incentives to grow and attract new businesses. Finally, we need to focus on international opportunities for generating employment and financial opportunities.
As a small-business owner, I know how important it is to support the business community, and I appreciate the role of county government in stimulating a thriving business community.
A HEALTHY EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
For educational progress, we need to achieve a higher graduation rate and increase the link between K-12 and higher education. We need to provide adequate financial support for pre-K, K-12 and higher education.
I mentor children at the Boys and Girls Club of America on Ross Road and know the problems first hand. I would help identify and bring pilot programs to Shelby County from communities across this nation and globally. Memphis is in competition with the rest of the world, and our students must be educated in a world-class school system.
A HEALTHY AND SAFE ENVIRONMENT
We need to improve the quality of health and health care in Shelby County. Good health is essential for a fiscally and physically healthy community. Access to quality health care aids a productive workforce, the fundamental development of children and overall reduction in the cost of care, which in turn affects individual success and overall economic well-being for the county.
As a doctor I have been doing this my entire career. I will work with the Tennessee Department of Health and the business community to bring innovative ideas from other communities to reduce childhood obesity and preventable chronic illnesses. We need to make our streets safer and expand the walkways.
All of this will bring quality to our life in Shelby County.
Let’s achieve this through: EAR
Efficiency, Accountability and Responsibility
Efficiency in government
Accountability for leaders
Responsibility of citizens
EFFICIENCY IN GOVERNMENT
We need to find greater efficiencies in government by reducing and eliminating waste. Efficiency can come by following business principles of process-improvement science. Quality and efficiency go hand in hand. Model programs like Baldrige and Lean and other strategies can help us achieve these goals. Local businesses with a reputation for operational excellence like FedEx can guide the government in its journey toward total quality improvement and efficiency. Other innovative communities such as Coral Springs, Florida, and Dakota County in Minnesota have already started this journey and are reaping great benefits.
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR LEADERS
Leaders need to be accountable for bringing economic growth, advancing education and creating a healthy and safe environment.
We can only manage and improve what we measure and we can only we accountable for what we measure. Often times it is difficult to hold one individual leader accountable for outcome measures such as: the economic growth of the entire county or the increase of the graduation rate. Instead we need to hold leaders accountable for process measures. “Doing the right things which will get the right outcome”
So as a commissioner: I will attend over 90 percent of the commission meetings, I will engage with four businesses in and outside the medical field to expand or grow in Shelby County and I will visit one school each month to understand the issues hands on from students, teachers, administrators and parents.
RESPONSIBILITY OF CITIZENS
If we are to make Shelby County a better place to live, our citizens must take greater responsibility: parents need to help kids with their homework, employers need to provide the best wages, workers need to retrain themselves and individuals need to exercise and eat right.
Citizens must not become complacent on government rather they must take the initiative to improve their lives and those of their children and other citizens.
Together we will make Memphis and Shelby County a healthier and better place to live.
See Responses to Questions by the Coalition for Better Memphis, Memphis Chamber, and Teacher’s Association Questionnaire:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Why do you believe you are qualified for this position?
I am a passionate community leader, a local doctor and a respected columnist for The Commercial Appeal.
Over the past 20 years in Memphis I have worked to help found Healthy Memphis Common Table, a health improvement collaborative and the Gandhi-King Conference, now in its 10th year. As a leader I want to address the challenges our county faces.
As a doctor, each and every day, I serve many patients: I listen to them, I analyze critical pieces of data, which help me make the right diagnosis, and then I sit and talk compassionately about the treatment plan with the best interests of my patients in mind and heart. Now, I want to serve the public at large.
As a columnist, I have written more than 200 articles in The Commercial Appeal, The Washington Post, and the Shelby Sun Times, which have helped me to gain insight into the problems and issues that trouble our county’s citizens. Also, my writings and public appearances have provided me with the skills to communicate clearly to a larger audience.
I also have been a senior leader in Tennessee’s Medicare Quality Improvement Organization for the last 15 years. And, I am a small-business owner with 19 years of experience in operating a business, managing people and overseeing a sound fiscal budget. My experience running a small business has also given me an appreciation for the need to make the Mid-South economy a favorable place for businesses and their employees.
What events or experiences caused you to decide to run for this office?
My parents immigrated to America when I was 10 years old. After I completed my medical education and training in Boston, my wife and I moved to Memphis 20 years ago because Memphis offered us an opportunity. Now, I want to give back to the community.
Each day as a doctor I see patients with diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer. Many of these diseases are preventable, if we work to reduce the problem “upstream.” Most often the problems relate to socioeconomic factors that can be addressed by the county commission.
As a commissioner, I will bring fresh, innovative and practical ideas to county government for economic growth, educational progress and quality health care.
I will base my decisions on proven, evidence-based policy. We need a business approach for process improvement strategies to bring a pragmatic “can-do” attitude to county government. I’m also passionate about the community where my family and I live. I feel a commitment to help Shelby County address its challenges in becoming the best place to live in America.
ECONOMY: Are you satisfied with the economic growth (jobs and income) of Shelby County today? If not, what should the county government do to improve economic development efforts? What incentives would you support or oppose be used to attract future economic development?
Over the past several years Shelby County has seen growth. In 1999, about $1.65 billion in new capital investment was made in our county, and over the past few years Shelby County has been a leader in economic growth in Tennessee. While we are recognized as America’s distribution center and are fast becoming North America’s logistics center, we have an opportunity to be a major manufacturing hub.
As an established commercial transportation center, with raw material coming in and finished products going out, we can reduce end-product cost by manufacturing products in Memphis. This will require a well-trained labor force that can manufacture products for 21st century consumers. A concerted effort with a pilot program in several manufacturing industries can be promising for the Memphis economy.
In Shelby County, we also have a strong medical industry with Regional One Health, Baptist, Methodist and St. Francis hospitals. This industry employs more than 30,000 persons. We have an opportunity to be the medical tourism place for the South, attracting patients for elective orthopedic and spinal surgeries. This would be attractive paired with our world-class Campbell Clinic and Semmes-Murphy Clinic doctors in Memphis.
Memphis is a premier port on the Mississippi River. The power of the river is not just a transportation asset, but also a tourist attraction, which cannot be forgotten. Downtown Memphis as the front door to Tennessee and the Greater Memphis community must be maintained and promoted. The Bass Pro/Pyramid site, FedEx Forum, St. Jude, Mud Island, Beale Street, Civil Rights Museum, South Memphis food and entertainment district, and many other assets should be promoted to make a thriving downtown Memphis the signature entrance to the Mid-South and Delta region.
ECONOMY: How would you utilize the knowledge and expertise of the business community in the decision-making process?
The Memphis business community can offer tremendous support to the decision-making and support of the Shelby County Commission.
I am a proponent of evidence-based policy. This means that we use existing business and social science research to bring knowledge and success ideas to our county. In other words, proven best practices. Business leaders consider an enormous amount of information to make decisions. The county commissioners need to take on similar practices and adopt business-like decision-making processes.
As a commissioner, my decision-making process will follow the principle of the three P’s.
People: We need to know what the people need and want – we must address these issues.
Policy: We need to have evidence-based data to guide our policy.
Pragmatism: We need to understand that politics often requires compromise and we must be pragmatic about the speed of changes, costs, and effort it takes to accomplish a goal.
ECONOMY: Do you favor programs for local, small and minority-owned businesses?
I am a local, minority small-business owner. I am grateful for the opportunity the county has provided. With this opportunity I have grown from a single-person medical practice to a seven-person organization. Small businesses create the vast majority of employment opportunities in the nation and in Shelby County. They can be assisted by providing state-of-the-art security services, health care services, and better trained and educated employees.
Yet, there are many others in our community who need assistance in developing or growing their businesses. The county must work actively to encourage and offer incentives to such individuals.
As noted before, we need to be sure that the incentives are working not just for the small businesses but also for the community at large, whether in new jobs, additional tax revenue or in adding economic strength to a certain community within the county.
EDUCATION: What is your recent experience with public schools and/or public school students?
On Friday afternoons, I mentor youth at the Boys and Girls Club of America on Ross Road. I see the challenges we face with elementary school children, who are unable to do simple math or read a passage from a book. I volunteered at Kirby Middle School to bring online video tutorial as supplements and tutored students at Gestalt Community School. These experiences reinforce one basic fact: All of our children have the potential to be smart, college-ready graduates, but it is up to us to provide them the opportunities to achieve this goal.
EDUCATION: How do you think Shelby County Schools could be improved?
Shelby County Schools need to begin a journey towards excellence. Some of the best businesses, such as FedEx and healthcare institutions in Memphis, have adopted a quality improvement approach, such as the Lean Strategy, or the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program for Excellence. These programs have a well designed process in place to identify problems, empower a team (which includes all tiers of employees), develop an aim, decide on measures, take action for short (3-6 months) periods of time, study intervention impacts, and then recalibrate as to what will work better. Such a continuous journey of quality improvement can greatly benefit our schools and utilize the maximum knowledge and experience of classroom teachers.
We also need to instill confidence in parents and the community that tax dollars are being put to best use. We need to better communicate to parents and the general population about the challenges facing the county school system and processes that are being implemented to achieve success. As a regular writer for the Commercial Appeal, I would use my skills to engage and inform the public.
Also, the absence of adequate financial support for Pre-K, K-12, and higher education is a problem for the community. These issues have a long history and can’t be resolved quickly. We need to make greater strides in order to achieve a higher graduation rate and increase the transition between K-12 and higher education.
As a commissioner, I would sponsor a campaign where at a minimum every child by the 4th grade would learn their timetables up to 10, and every child by the 6th grade would to be able to read the book, Charlotte’s Web. This would not solely be the responsibility of the teachers, but rather parents, civic organizations, churches, senior citizens, political leaders, and the businesses. They would all help provide the support structure for the most disadvantaged students. For the non-college bound students, we need to impress upon vocational training in high school that involves community-based training programs. For students pursuing college, we need to make sure they are sufficiently encouraged and counseled in order to excel in standardized scores and college essay preparation. After they complete college, we want to have our children come back to (or stay in) Memphis, and we would encourage this through local internships and fellowship programs, similar to those provided by Temple Israel
What is the greatest strength and greatest weakness of Shelby County Schools?
Our greatest strength is our passion among the teachers, students, parents, and administrators to strive for excellence and dedication towards a quality education. This passion has been evident over the past several years with the gradual change towards unification and a consolidation of resources.
Our weaknesses are the culture of uncertainty and fear, which has been created by the changes to the school systems. To solve this, leaders must be reassuring and need to bring security and certainty by communicating a clear vision for success.