Short version: Impressive lady who is the rarest of all political animals — a genuine black female Republican.
Long version: Mary Ann McNeil is running in a special election for the Tennessee House for the seat left open by the resignation of Roscoe Dixon. She is in a field of three other candidates, including my previous favorite, Jason Hernandez.
I have to say that Mary Ann McNeil is the Patriot Pick for this race. I not only liked her better than Jason (which is saying a lot), but to be brutally honest she has a much better chance of retaining this seat than Jason. The district is primarily black with very few Hispanics, particularly legal Hispanics that can vote.
I heard Mary Ann when she spoke to the members of the Shelby County chapter of the Tennessee Firearms Association last night. She was “down home” yet eloquent. She appeared to be both sincere and capable. She is not a politician yet is informed and has the connections (more on that later), probably due to her heavy involvement in the Republican Women of Purpose and Collierville Republican Club.
Mary Ann lives in the district and is concerned about people moving out of the county. A professional educator, she believes that in a large part it is the schools that keep people or run them away.
She started off her presentation with two issues.
First, she wants to work with Senator Norris to keep the number of students in schools low and supports special school districts. She also said that she is against consolidation of the city and county school systems — “bigger is not always better”. Second, she wants to fight for the Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption Act to help senior citizens who need assistance to be able to hold on to their homes (which Norris is also heavily pushing).
She showed the lines of Senate District 33 which was recently redrawn to go across the entire southern border of the county. While the majority of the district is primarily black (and hence, Democrat), she believes that the new lines lines will allow Republicans to take the seat in a special election. It includes a large section of Collierville and 2 precincts in Germantown for a total of 12,000 mostly-Republican voters. While these voters can be mobilized to some extent, records show that the people in the rest of the district don’t go out to vote, particularly in a special election.
Mary Ann stated that she is against the income tax. She said that she lived in areas where they had it and said that it did nothing to stem the tide of taxes.
She is a proponent of 2nd Amendment, which you would expect someone addresses a group of armed citizens to say. But she has gone so far as to put it on the hand bills that her campaign is passing out — literature she created long before she knew she was coming to address a handful of gun owners. She mentioned both hunting and self protection (I don’t expect too many candidates to mention fighting tyranny).
Mary Ann talked about her experience as the principle of a school near Shelby Forest and how honored she felt to have been selected to open Crosswind Elementary in Collierville. In 2003 she received Outstanding PTA Principle for the state of TN.
She was proud of the fact that she had her picture taken with VP Dick Cheney and two with Lamar Alexander. In addition, she was on the stage with the president when he spoke in Memphis last Friday. She joked that she has been cleared by the feds twice now.
Speaking of the Bush visit, Memphis mayor Herenton (aka “King Willie”) made quite a stink about not having “been invited” to meet Bush. Mary Ann said that Herenton should have welcomed Bush but instead he whined and carried on. I agree.
Mary Ann talked about the lack of parental involvement, telling a story about three kids that broke into a school and vandalized it three times in a period of a few weeks. Each time, the Juvenile Court let them out.
She is a Republican because of her value system is Republican. Furthermore, her mother’s value system is Republican. Mary Ann wants to show blacks that a Republican will return their calls, will come to their churches and talk to them, and will actively represent their interests.
Mary Ann has already racked up an impressive list of endorsements:

[Note: Mark Norris has my sincere respect as a man of his word and a concerned legislator. He is one of the “good guys”.]
When I asked Mary Ann about her opinion of vouchers and charter schools, I expected the usual public teacher rhetoric. Instead, I received the best answer to that question that I’ve ever heard. She supports charter schools and vouchers just as she does public, private and Catholic schools. Mary Ann believes that the parent has to decide the proper setting for their children. Paraphrasing, she said, “All children may not do well in a public setting, all may not do well in religious setting, all may not do well in a private school. But it is the parent’s decision to determine what is best for their children.” She also said that parents have the right to homeschool. She said, “I can’t knock that. I really can’t.” She went on to say that she believes charter school teachers should be certified by the state and homeschoolers should follow the programs laid out for them.
As a child, Mary Ann attended both public and Catholic school.
The following is taken directly from the handbill that the McNeil campaign is distributing:
Defending Our Children

  • Supports Special School Districts
  • Opposes Consolidation

Supporting Our Values

  • Opposes Memphis Payroll Tax
  • Opposes Income Tax
  • Supports Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption
  • Supports Tenn-Care Reform
  • Pro-Life
  • Supports Second Amendment Rights

Educator and Proven Administrator

  • M.Ed. University of Memphis
  • Tennessee PTA Outstanding Principal
  • Life Achievement Award, National PTA
  • 40 Yr. Career as Professional Educator in Shelby County and Memphis City Schools including 10 years as Principal of Crosswind Elementary School, Collierville
  • Currently Serves as School Improvement Consultant with the Tennessee Department of Education

Dedicated Leader

  • Collierville Chamber of Commerce (2001 — 03)
  • President, Shelby County Education Association (1986 — 87)
  • Leadership Collierville (1989 — present)
  • Main Street Collierville (1995 — 97)
  • Shelby County PTA Legislative Chair (1989)
  • Brooks Museum League Member
  • Member, Republican Women of Purpose
  • Member, Collierville Republican Club