By Shanderia K. Posey
The city of Jackson’s mayoral race has officially begun now that Attorney Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham– District 1 have officially confirmed their candidacies
Along with about 100 supporters, Lumumba stood in front of city hall the afternoon of May 19 and announced he was running to become mayor of the capital city on a theme of “Restoring the Vision: One City, One Aim, One Destiny.”
Ebony Lumumba, wife of the mayoral candidate, introduced her husband at the press conference.
She described her husband using a scripture reference in Isaiah 1:17 saying, “He does right. He seeks justice. He defends the oppressed, and he takes up the cause for those who are unable to fight on their own.”
Chokwe A. Lumumba told supporters that since losing his last campaign for mayor two years ago, people have approached him about running again. Lumumba ran in a special election in 2014 following the Feb. 25, 2014 sudden death of his father – Chokwe Lumumba, who was Jackson’s mayor.
Chokwe A. Lumumba consistently told people he would only run again if it was necessary.
“It appears to be necessary,” Lumumba said.
He went on to mention “crumbling infrastructure, furloughed city employees, the potential of the regionalization of our water system, the illegal takeover of our city’s airports and a city budget that is completely out of whack” as major concerns of his campaign.
“I offer the people of Jackson not just a Lumumba administration but a people’s administration,” he said. To emphasize his plan for a transformative administration, he said, “ When I become mayor, you become mayor.”
He also mentioned a holistic approach to solving crime in the city. As a criminal defense attorney, Lumumba says he’s witnessed the limited approach to attacking the problem. “We are going to provide programs that we intend to place people in and give them the alternative to be a part of the development … as opposed to being something antagonistic to our development,” he said.
Rep. Kathy Sykes, District 70 of Hinds County attended the press conference to support Lumumba.
“I’m supporting Antar because I know that he’s ready to lead. I just believe he will bring fresh ideas to the office of mayor,” Sykes said. “Right now, it’s like the city is in a depressed state with our finances and with what’s going on at the Capitol. Antar will bring fresh vision, a new voice. I believe he will get the job done.”
Sykes also emphasized that Lumumba’s background as a community organizer and attorney would play a pivotal role in advocating for the city at the Legislature.
Graham cited his knowledge, experience and maturity to lead Jackson. He’s worked for five Jackson mayors and 23 police chiefs.
“A lot of the city government needs to be fixed,” Graham said, citing problems with infrastructure, water, crime and budget in Jackson.
Graham isn’t surprised the mayoral race has begun so early. The election will take place in 2017.
“It allows people to know they have an alternative,” he said.
Graham hasn’t officially announced his candidacy but has confirmed his plans to the media.
“I want to make sure I can develop a specific plan,” before an official announcement, he said.
This is Graham’s first time running for mayor of Jackson.
Shanderia K. Posey can be reached at email@example.com.