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Samuel Hardiman

Memphis Commercial Appeal

Memphis businessman J.W. Gibson II filed paperwork to run for Memphis mayor this week, joining the still-growing field for the 2023 mayoral election.

Gibson's entry into the race had been rumored for weeks. His filing of a form showing the appointment of former Greater Memphis Chamber President Beverly Robertson as treasurer — an essential step to raise money for a mayoral run — confirms his bid.

The businessman has three businesses under the umbrella of the Gibson Cos. They include the Premier Group; a medical, scientific and laboratory supply distributor; Southeast Regional Development Corporation, which develops affordable housing and sought to create a tax-increment-financing district in South Memphis; and Tec-Print, a digital publishing and printing company.

He declined to comment on his run when reached by phone Thursday. Gibson is married to Kathy Buckman Gibson, who is the former president of Buckman International.

Gibson's joining the mayoral field adds more confusion to what promises to be a crowded race. The other prominent candidates are Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr.; Judge Joe Brown, the former reality television star; State Rep. Karen Camper; Michelle McKissack, a Memphis-Shelby County Schools board member and former broadcaster; former Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner and Downtown Memphis Commission CEO Paul Young.

His entry also continues to raise the issue of vote-splitting — many Black politicos have expressed concern that a crowded field of Black candidates could cause a majority Black populace to split votes and open up the field for a white candidate to get into the mayor's office.

That issue came up at the first forum of the young race in October, which was attended by Young, Turner and Brown. Both Young and Turner said they would drop out of the race if they did not gain traction.

The election is set for Oct. 5, 2023, a Thursday. The first day a candidate can pick up a qualifying petition is May 22, and the deadline to return that petition is July 20.

Samuel Hardiman covers Memphis city government and politics for The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached by email at or followed on Twitter at @samhardiman.

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