‘Good is not good enough for Jackson’
By Gail M. Brown
Longtime Jackson businessman Jonathan Lee kicked off his candidacy for Mayor of the City of Jackson Tuesday, July 31, in front of his late grandmother’s home: 1320 Perkins St. in the Georgetown neighborhood, a place where he spent his formative years.
“Whenever I am here I can’t help but remember my childhood,” said Lee, who is president of Mississippi Products, Inc., which was founded by his late father. Lee spent his after-school days with “Big Mama and Granddaddy.”
Lee’s campaign slogan is “Our Time for Greatness.” He told the crowd: “Our city’s leadership says that Jackson is good…I’m running for Mayor because if this is good; it’s not good enough.” His supporters applauded. “Not good enough for Georgetown or Shady Oaks. Not good enough for Alta Woods or Garden Park. It’s not good enough for Belhaven or the North End. Let’s be great!”
With the sun beaming down on him as his supporters stood on the porch of the home waving his campaign signs, Lee, who is 34, refuted those who might say that he is too young for the city’s top job. He said, “at age 30, Ida B. Wells was changing the conscience of the country. At age 34, Dr. [Martin Luther] King was organizing the march on Washington. At age 35, John F. Kennedy was in the U.S. Senate. At age 37, Medgar Evers had lived, served and died for the Movement. Now, I’m not likening myself to these people, but responsibility has no age.”
Longtime Jackson entreprenuer and a Lee supporter William “Bill” Cooley told The Mississippi Link that he thinks people often put “too much stock on a person’s age.” “I think Jonathan has the skill-set needed to bring this city together in a number of ways,” Cooley said. “I am supporting him because I believe he will advance the city of Jackson to a greater degree than any other candidate I know.” Cooley, who has known Lee for 10 years, describes him as a person of “high energy and mission driven.”
Lee described his mayoral campaign as being one in which he will share “A tale of two cities” – “the tale of the Jackson we know today versus the Jackson we can build tomorrow.”
Lee explained that today’s Jackson has lost businesses and tax base to surrounding communities. “Since 1998, we’ve lost over $300 Million dollars
in sales in the area around the Metro Center alone. Jobs have become increasingly harder to come by, and we have over 52,000 residents living in poverty,” he said.
Lee continued: “In the city of tomorrow, we will focus on a deliberate plan of action to maintain and attract businesses; not throwing ill-conceived ideas against the wall to see what sticks.”
During a series of questions from the media, Lee was asked his platform on crime and safety. He said there should be changes made to the “culture of our Police and Fire departments by stablizing work schedules and creating clear pathways for career advancement.”
In one aspect, he mentioned the city needs to have a chief that is more visible. He also talked about officer morale. “We’ve got a huge morale problem amongst our police officers,” Lee said. “I think a lot of their complaints are founded. If we expect people to come to work and give Jackson its best, we’re going to have to give those employees our best. That means addressing those overtime issues and those progression issues for job advancement.”
Lee would also like to see more police officers on bikes in the neighborhoods. He said this will help save the city on fuel and maintenance of the vehicle.
He told the citizens that the city of Jackson is at a crossroad and that he is ready to fight for Jackson, a fight that he admits will not be easy.
“Jackson is worth the fight, and I’m ready to fight for Perkins Street. I’m ready to fight for Georgetown, West Jackson, South Jackson, North Jackson. I am ready to fight for all of Jackson. This is our time for greatness!” he concluded.