Of all the Super Bowls Patrice Robinson has watched, the Green Packers’ win against the New England Patriots in 1996 for the franchise’s third world championship is the one she recalls the most.
Among the reasons is that Robinson and Hall of Fame linebacker Reggie White befriended each other when White was a member of the Memphis Showboats of the now-defunct United States Football League (USFL) in the mid-1980s.
At the time, Robinson was a job specialist at Mitchell High School during which a mutual friend introduced her to White, a former University of Tennessee All-American.
As Robinson recalls, meeting White was a memorable encounter, given she crossed paths with one of the greatest linebackers in pro football history. Not only that, what Robinson — who also met boxing great Muhammad Ali in Memphis in the early 1990s — deemed mostly intriguing is that White was a notable humanitarian with whom her students could easily identify.
A 13-time Pro Bowler, White played 14 NFL seasons before he died in December 2004 of an apparent cardiac dysrhythmia at the age of 43.
“He was part of an organization for Christian athletes,” Robinson told MemphiSport. “You know how you just hit it off with a person? Reggie is one of the most loving and carrying persons that I have met. He always wanted to help students and he ministered to them as well. He came to my classroom and talked to my kids about his career. I thought it was a great opportunity for African-American students to meet a successful African-American male. He was giving back to the community because of his love for God and people.”
Like White, Robinson, 58, has devoted virtually her entire life to enhancing the lives of youths, particularly those in inner city communities throughout Memphis. Her wealth of experience as an educator and school board member is among the reasons she is lobbying to fill the Shelby County Commission District 9 seat.
Early voting takes place April 16 through May 1 followed by the primary May 6. The general election is August 7.
After announcing that he would be endorsing Robinson, prominent judge Joe Brown told a crowd of supporters that Robinson “belonged downtown and is a conscientious and knowledgeable candidate.”
Having adopted the catchphrase, “Voice Of Reason,” Robinson is hopeful the 53,000-plus registered voters that make up District 9 will take into account her strong ties and steady contributions to Whitehaven and its neighboring communities. A 1972 graduate of Whitehaven High, Robinson is widely known for having served 12 years as commissioner of the Memphis and Shelby County school boards.
After the merger, she served on the unified board through August of last year.
In addition, Robinson, a longtime Whitehaven resident, is a retired supervisor for Memphis, Light, Gas, and Water Division.
She said the thought of running for County Commission’s District 9 post — which is comprised of Whitehaven, Westwood, Walker Holmes, Indian Hills, and Coro Lake and small portion of South Memphis — initially surfaced some time in 2012 during which the school districts had undergone a substantial reduction in revenue.
“The most important ingredient for a good, quality education is sustainable funding,” Robinson said. “As county commissioner, one of the most important responsibilities of that office is to approve the school district’s budget which is a third of the county’s budget.”
If elected, among Robinson’s immediate priorities is to do away with year-to-year budgeting that had become a difficult task for school officials in recent years.
“Budgeting year-to-year without a strategic plan is difficult for the school administrators,” Robinson said. “The county has to have a budget plan so the school district can plan. People think because of the merger, we lost jobs. We lost key positions because of lost revenue, flat funding for six years, students left the district to attend charter schools, and state-controlled schools. It was a roller coaster. People thought it was one thing. It was a number of issues. When your revenue is flat and your expenses go up, it creates a gap in your budget.”
Besides implementing fiscal policies and strategic planning, Robinson’s Platform For Progress Agenda includes: promoting quality vocational/technical job training, devise a balanced approach to educational funding, and educating the public on major issues.
“Your budget determines your tax rates,” Robinson said. “We’ve got to have a good handle on the budget. Our citizens are concerned about jobs. But at the same time, I want to encourage citizens to become more technically inclined. We’ve got some folks who are still scared to turn on a computer.”
Given she has what she describes as an effective plan in place, Robinson believes she is the frontrunner to assume the District 9 seat. Among the reasons is that like White, she quickly points out that her track record is such that she has a heart for people, a key attribute she hopes citizens will take into consideration when they cast their ballots.
“Yes, I am (the frontrunner),” Robinson said. “I have the professional background, experience, and a heart for people.”
Something that was easily discovered by one of the greatest linebackers in pro football history.