MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Many seats in the Tennessee House of Representatives are up for grabs in Shelby County in November. That includes Tennessee House district 96, which includes Cordova and parts of Germantown.
Democratic State Representative Dwayne Thompson has held the seat for four years. And despite a Republican supermajority in Nashville, he said Democrats hold some bargaining power.
“Those of us who are moderates work with moderate Republicans more. We have a sort of shadow caucus you might say. And we actually have a lot more influence,” he said.
Thompson said he’s shepherded road projects in his district focused on Germantown Parkway and I-40.
He said he did not support the 2019 legislative approval of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s voucher program, which targets schools in only Davidson and Shelby Counties. Two courts have ruled the program unconstitutional, and its implementation is stalled.
“I believe that state dollars and taxpayer dollars should go to support education and support public education, and not to support private schools,” he said.
His challenger in this November’s election is Republican Patricia Possel.
“My reputation is not only as being an effective leader, it’s someone who does their homework to find out what is best for the people,” Possel said.
Possel is known for her vocal community advocacy on issues like de-annexation as well as unreliable city trash pickup that plagued the Cordova area this summer.
“As a state representative, it is your job to make sure your community is being maintained. So it would be my job to make sure that the city does its job,” she said.
Possel runs a photography business and has a background in education. She said she supports the approval of Governor Bill Lee’s voucher plan, citing the low performance of some Shelby County Schools.
“We have to think holistically on Shelby County and making sure that we have our children educated, so they have prosperous futures so they have hope,” she said.
Thompson said given he stays in office and the 2019 voucher plan remains unconstitutional, he will vote against any other voucher proposal Republicans try to push through in Nashville.
“I’ll be voting against that as well. I just think it’s wrong, and we need to support our public schools,” he said.
Early voting is ongoing in Shelby County until Oct. 29. Election Day is Nov. 3rd.