Thanks to All For Your Support

Ellyn, Frances and I Thank You

Its been a couple of days since the election, and I realized I hadn’t taken the time to publicly thank your for the faith and trust you put in me with your support and your vote.

I’ve been involved in campaigns for a long time, but having now seen it from the side of the candidate, I feel I’ve learned a lot, and gained a perspective that you just can’t get any other way.

Even though this effort didn’t turn out the way we wanted, I want you to know that I will continue writing, reporting and researching issues on my blog for the foreseeable future.

In addition, there may be other announcements there soon so stay tuned.

Thank you all once again for the support you showed my campaign over the past eight months. I couldn’t be more proud of our effort.


Steve Ross

Early Voting Locations and Times

Election Day is upon us. Early voting starts Friday, July 13th. Make sure you take the time to let your voice be heard at the ballot box.

If you’re voting early, the times and locations can be found below. If you’re voting on election day, be sure to check and make sure your voting location hasn’t changed by¬†clicking here.

Don’t forget to bring an approved photo ID: State issued Drivers License or ID, Military ID, Passport (College student ID’s are not accepted) Full list of approved ID.

Downtown Early Voting Location:
Shelby County Office Building, 157 Poplar Ave. 38103 Map
Beginning, Friday, July 13, 2012 through Saturday, July 28, 2012
Weekdays 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Saturday, July 14, 2012, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Saturdays, July 21 and July 28, 2012, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM


Early Voting Satellite Locations
Beginning, Monday, July 16, 2012 through Saturday, July 28,2012
Weekdays 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Saturdays, July 21 and July 28, 2012, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Click here to view Early Voting, August 2, 2012 in an interactive map.


Agri-Center International 7777 Walnut Grove Rd. 38120 Map
Anointed Temple of Praise 3939 Riverdale Rd. 38141 Map
Baker Community Center 7942 Church Rd. 38053 Map
Bethel Church 5586 Stage Rd. 38134 Map
Bellevue Baptist Church 2000 Appling Rd. 38016 Map
Berclair Church of Christ 4536 Summer Ave. 38122 Map
Bishop Byrne High School 1475 Shelby Dr. 38116 Map
Collierville Church of Christ 575 Shelton Dr. 38017 Map
Dave Wells Community Center 915 Chelsea Ave. 38107 Map
Glenview Community Center 1141 S. Barksdale St. 38114 Map
Greater Lewis Street Baptist Church 152 E. Parkway N., 38104 Map
Greater Middle Baptist Church 4982 Knight Arnold Rd. 38118 Map
Mississippi Blvd. Church-Family Life Center 70 N. Bellevue Blvd. 38106 Map
Mt. Zion Baptist Church 60 S. Parkway E., 38106 Map
New Bethel Baptist Church 7786 Poplar Pike 38138 Map
Raleigh U.M. Church 3295 Powers Rd. 38128 Map
Refuge Church 9817 Huff N Puff Rd., 38002 Map
Riverside Baptist Church 3560 S. Third St. 38109 Map
Shiloh Baptist Church 3121 Range Line Rd. 38127 Map
White Station Church of Christ 1106 Colonial Rd. 38117 Map

Defining Strength

Over the weekend I had time to talk to friends about politics in our community and the importance of policy positions and decisions. We touched on all kinds of issues from local to Federal, but it got me to thinking about a critical element that is often missing. Where you’re coming from and how that impacts your ability to govern.

See, anyone can copy and paste policy ideas from a think tank in Washington DC or Nashville. It doesn’t take much more than money to hire consultants to tell you what’s resonating with people in your target demo. But the one critical thing that no policy position tells you is where the candidate or elected official is coming from.

At the top of this page is an image with the words “Make Shelby County Stronger”. I didn’t choose this because I think Shelby County is weak. Actually, compared to a lot of places we’re doing pretty well. I chose this because of my personal philosophy about what strength really is.

Here’s an example.

Some people see strength as big, inflexible and unmoving. While that may represent a certain kind of strength, its not sustainable. We all have moments of weakness. We all bend from time to time. The problem with being inflexible is sometimes you stop whatever it is you’re against. But sometimes it breaks you leaving devastating consequences.

That’s not the kind of strength I’m talking about. For me, strength is not just physical, but a spiritual, emotional, and intellectual state of being that guides you. It is a series of beliefs grounded in gospels of the New Testament and the teachings of my family: Love people. Help people. Listen to people. Be understanding. Be an example.

It sounds simple but if you think about it, its a pretty tall order. Even though I’m not always as successful at this as I would like to be, these ideas frame both who I am, and why I decided to embark on this journey called candidacy.

We have a lot of people in need in this community. Many of those needs go ignored or worse, are only being addressed at token levels. I believe this is a structural weakness that we have a moral obligation to correct. That doesn’t mean handouts. Everyone understands that giving a fish only feeds you for a day. We have to do more to teach people to fish. Teaching to fish is far less expensive and ensures that the knowledge will spread, which helps all of us succeed.

Success isn’t a finite commodity and it cant survive in a vacuum. Success builds positive possibilities. True success demands to be shared. Sharing successes means more possibilities and more success throughout the community. The moment you decide to keep your success to yourself or deny your role in helping someone else succeed is the moment you extinguish a whole host of possibilities. It is a harm to yourself and your community that may seem silent, but has broad ranging effects.

There’s an old saying that goes, “Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan”. The truth is, the responsibility for both success and failure are shared throughout our community. We like to think that if we mind our own business we’re somehow immune, but we’re not. We can’t be. We engage in our community every day, and in doing so, share responsibility for everything that goes on.

And so it is from that point of view that I look at issues, especially the more vexing ones we face.

With all that in mind, I offer a video from TEDxAustin. The speaker is a Death Penalty attorney who is discussing intervention ideas to keep people out of the criminal justice system, but the interventions he is discussing could be about any topic from education to teen pregnancy.

(h/t Josh Spickler at the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office)

For much of human history we’ve decided to intervene at the point of no return for the safety of society. As the speaker notes, this is much more expensive than earlier interventions. It also means the human capital that we’ve invested in through education and other spending brings a lower rate of return than it would if we focused on prevention than punishment.

This is not a new idea.

Several days ago I was at a meeting where one of the speakers said (and I’m paraphrasing) “Don’t do what’s right for the community, do what’s right for yourself.” I understand the rationale behind this thought process, but it makes me sad that people feel they are so disconnected from each other that their individual liberty is separate from society.

Society is what protects individual liberty. Without it, we would all still be living in caves.

I believe we have a duty, to ourselves and our society to focus on building successes at all levels. That means recognizing that we are all connected, whether we like it or not. That’s what society is.

Through that connection, we flourish through our successes and suffer through our failures together, even if we don’t immediately see it.

So making Shelby County stronger means rallying around the idea that we have to do more to address the issues we’re facing as a community rather than looking at someone else and saying, “Pick yourself up by your bootstraps”. Even the characters in the old Horatio Alger stories had help in building their success. Why is it any different now?

It isn’t.

So, if we want to reduce crime and teen pregnancy, increase educational attainment, and make our community a place people not only like to live, but want to live, we have to seek policies that help people succeed rather than focusing solely on punishing them when they fail.

Building success is building strength. Building strength through early intervention comes at a much lower cost, both financially and in human capital, than after tragedy has struck. Sure, we’ll always have people that do wrong to others or themselves, but we can have far fewer if we choose to focus on stopping it before it starts.

That’s the way to build a strong Shelby County.