JB Smiley Jr. is a native Memphian, lawyer, author, and member of the Memphis City Council, representing Super District 8 Position 1 since January 1, 2020. Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Smiley attended Bolton High School, where he excelled both academically and athletically, particularly in basketball. After high school, he attended Tennessee Technological University and the University of Pikeville, where he continued to play basketball. Smiley later earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Will H. Bowen School of Law.
Smiley's professional career includes owning the Smiley & Associates law firm and working as a lawyer with the Munson, Rowlett, Moore, & Boone civil defense law firm. He has also served as a policy advisor to the Shelby County Clerk. In addition to his legal career, Smiley is an author with several books available on Amazon.
In 2019, Smiley was elected to the Memphis City Council, where he currently serves as Vice Chair and holds key roles as Chair of the Public Works, Solid Waste & General Services Committee, Vice Chair of the Planning & Zoning Committee, and council liaison for the Urban Art Commission and the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission.
Smiley has been active in the Democratic Party, running for Governor of Tennessee in 2022. His policy platform focused on education, women's rights, healthcare, economic development, and transportation. He has been endorsed by several elected officials, including Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris.
Currently, Smiley is running for re-election to the Memphis City Council to represent Super District 8 Position 1 in Tennessee. The general election is scheduled for October 5, 2023.
JB Smiley Jr. has made notable contributions to his community through his involvement in local politics and community engagement. As a member of the Memphis City Council, Smiley has focused on issues such as education, women's rights, healthcare, economic development, and transportation. He has also hosted events like "Community Conversations" to discuss local issues, including the 2023 Comprehensive Justice in Policing Ordinance. Furthermore, Smiley has participated in podcasts discussing the importance of community involvement and the Memphis Academy of Civic Engagement. These efforts demonstrate Smiley's commitment to addressing the needs of his community and fostering positive change.
During his political career, JB Smiley Jr. has focused on key issues such as education, women's rights, healthcare, economic development, and transportation. As a member of the Memphis City Council and during his run for Governor of Tennessee, Smiley has been committed to addressing these issues to improve the lives of his constituents and create a better future for the state.
JB Smiley Jr. has worked with other politicians to advance his political agenda by building relationships and garnering endorsements from elected officials across Tennessee. During his run for Governor of Tennessee, Smiley received endorsements from over 20 current and former elected officials, including Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. These endorsements indicate that Smiley has been able to collaborate with politicians from different regions and levels of government to promote his policy platform and gain support for his campaign.
As a member of the Memphis City Council, Smiley has also demonstrated his ability to work with colleagues on legislation. He has been described as a dealmaker, working to save pieces of colleagues' legislation through amendments that made the bills more palatable to other council members. This shows his willingness to collaborate and compromise with fellow council members to advance his political agenda and address the needs of his community.
In December 2021, there was a disagreement between JB Smiley Jr. and other members of the Memphis City Council during a discussion about renaming a street in honor of slain rapper Young Dolph. Smiley sponsored legislation to rename a city street in honor of Young Dolph as a symbolic gesture that would not alter existing street names or addresses. However, some council members, including Councilwoman Rhonda Logan, expressed concerns about praising the rapper due to the sometimes incendiary lyrics of his music. Smiley responded by saying, "Shame on you for not wanting to recognize your own. Shame on you for casting stones when your skeletons are not out." This disagreement highlights the differing opinions and potential conflicts that can arise between politicians while advocating for their political agendas.
During his time in office, JB Smiley Jr. has faced several major political issues, including reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and education. As a member of the Memphis City Council, Smiley sponsored a resolution labeling reproductive autonomy a necessity. He has also portrayed himself as a more tolerant alternative to the incumbent governor, focusing on support for abortion access and LGBTQ rights. Additionally, Smiley has been outspoken against the school voucher program, which allows parents to use public funds toward private school tuitions, and called the policy an attempt to privatize public education. These issues represent some of the major political challenges Smiley has faced during his time in office.
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