Jackie Jackson is a Solutions Advisor at FedEx, where she helps its customers save time and money.
Of all the sports in which Jackie Jackson took part while growing up, none of those grasped her interest as much as cheerleading.
Take, for instance, how Jackson went about learning an assortment of stunts and fundamentals as a child long before she took her cheering prowess to nearby Tennessee State University.
“From early childhood, I remember wanting to cheer,” Jackson told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “I would practice somersaults, jumps and cheers with my friends regularly. I pushed myself to get stronger, jump higher, and slip faster. However, what I quickly learned is that like football, basketball and soccer, being a cheerleader is a team activity. It’s only when the squad collaborated and comprised that we were our best.”
Earlier this year, Jackson submitted her petition to run for the Shelby County Commission, District 4 seat.
Early voting takes place from July 18 through August 2. The general election is August 7.
Having adopted the catchphrase “The Time Is Now…It Does Matter,” Jackson, who lives in Southwind, will be vying to upend commissioner and Methodist Healthcare Foundation director Mark Billingsley, who in January was appointed to the Shelby County Board of Commissioners.
While defeating Billingsley would translate into a monumental upset, Jackson contends she is a viable candidate to topple the former Germantown Alderman and advocate for District 4, which is comprised of South Cordova, Germantown, and portions of Southeast Shelby County.
“I believe that Shelby County has the potential to be greater,” said Jackson, explaining why she chose to run for a political seat. “While sitting on the sidelines wishing for leaders with integrity, hoping for a trajectory of policies and programs to catapult our city to new levels, desiring role models in government that children can aspire to become, I grew tired and my friends grew tired too. With support and encouragement from my family, friends, colleagues and advisers, I decided to run for this seat.”
Add to the fact that Jackson essentially was provided with a worthy assist, or sorts, from the wife of arguably the most powerful political figure in the world, and it’s no wonder why she is decided to become a public servant.
In June 2012, Jackson was asked to introduce First Lady Michelle Obama during an Obama Victory Fund reception at the Memphis Cook Convention Center during the President’s run for a second term.
For Jackson, that she was afforded the opportunity to meet and interact with the First Lady of the United States is an experience she admittedly will relish for the rest of her life.
“I was staged at the end of a long receiving line of Memphis and Shelby County dignitaries and business leaders waiting for the opportunity to meet Mrs. Obama,” Jackson, a then-volunteer with the Cordova Neighborhood Obama For America (OFA) team, said of meeting Mrs. Obama. “We greeted one another, talked and she held my hand during the short walk to take our places behind stage before our turns to take the stage.”
Before going on stage, Jackson had the privilege of partaking in a personal dialogue with the President’s wife.
“She was warm and personable, while sharing that she and her staff had just arrived in town after attending an A.M.E. conference that same morning in Nashville, where many pastors prayed for her, the President and her family,” Jackson iterated. “Her belief in the power of God was obvious. There was an image of her surrounded by pastors that made its rounds of that prayer event back in 2012.
“I was proud to represent Memphis well, yet I was taken aback by this opportunity. Mrs. Obama made me feel as if we’d known each other for years,” Jackson continued. “She encouraged me by stating that there was no need to be nervous. She alluded to the challenges of the President winning and that the work and effort of the volunteers were appreciated. She was genuine and passionate about the work President Obama was doing and wanted to get done.”
As she continues to campaign for office, Jackson pledges to exhibit the same passion for District 4 residents that Mrs. Obama had demonstrated when they met.
“Government must return to the people,” Jackson said. “I will bring the voice and desires of the people back to the Commission. That starts with listening to my constituents.”
Not only that, Jackson emphasized the importance of women having a voice, particularly with regards to various issues and policies in Shelby County.
Additionally, among her key objectives if elected will be battling for affordable healthcare for Shelby County citizens as well as devising ways to ensure municipalities have the necessary funding to receive a quality education.
“I will work with city leaders to attract jobs and especially higher paying jobs to Shelby County,” Jackson said. “While there are plenty of opportunities and even more challenges in our county, I will bring diversity of thought and actions. I will be available for my constituents to voice their concerns and enact ordinances and policies that make sense and don’t burden taxpayers.
“Citizens will have elected an advocate that is concerned about the place all of us call home — Shelby County,” Jackson added. “There are many serious issues the commission must decide on. Far too often, small things distract from solving the bigger issues such as blight, access to healthcare for women, and funding for schools. I will keep the main thing the main thing, a government for the people, by the people.”
Spoken like a viable candidate who appears destined to mount an upset.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.