By Edelia “Dr. Jay” Carthan,
Women for Progress of MS, Inc., along with sponsoring partners, hosted a 2021 City of Jackson Mayoral Debate, Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 7 p.m. virtually at Mississippi College School of Law. Only three of the eight candidates running for mayor participated in the debate.
D’Andra Orey, professor of political science at Jackson State University and Donna Ladd, publisher, Jackson Free Press served as moderators for the debate.
Incumbent Mayor of Jackson, Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Kenneth Wilson are the Democrats who participated in the debate along with Ponto “Ronnie” Downing, the only Republican that participated in the City of Jackson Mayoral Debate.
Other candidates running for mayor of Jackson, but were not present, are Patty Patterson (D), Jason Wells (R), Shefeqah Lodree (I), Charlotte Reeves (I), and Les Tannehill (I). They will appear on the general election ballot.
Sponsoring partners included the Jackson Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Beta Delta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Central MS Chapter, Jackson Free Press, Jackson Advocate, MS Black Women Roundtable, League of Women Voters Jackson, NAACP Jackson Chapter, and One Voice.
Each candidate was given three minutes to respond to each question with no rebuttals. If a candidate wanted to respond to another candidate, they had to use their three minutes when responding to a question.
Ponto Downing was the first to introduce himself. “Ponto R. Downing, the R stands for Ronnie not Republican. I guess the best way to describe me is a Jew by blood Jesus freak.” Mayor Lumumba introduced himself emphasizing his law background and his parents’ influence on his upbringing. Kenneth Wilson introduced himself as Ken Wilson and stated, “I am Jackson.”
The first question or issue asked of the candidates was regarding infrastructure and the water crisis and any comments regarding the governor and lt. governor.
Mayor Lumumba stated how the city supports certain state buildings and services and does not receive compensation in return from the state. “I hope we can demonstrate operational unity, and focus more on our common ends and objectives than our differences. What we have been able to do is leverage our one percentage sales tax in order to get 40 million dollars to go towards our infrastructure and water issue. It is important that whoever stands up here today knows the issue, knows the cost. I know the issue and I know the cost, and I have a history of being able to move beyond party lines and make things happen,” Mayor Lumumba responded.
Wilson talked about a letter he received three years ago saying the water wasn’t safe for pregnant women and here we are three years later and the water still is not safe. “We need a solution. People are suffering. In my administration, we will have a master plan and pursue all options such as the Stanford Act which is for disaster relief and emergency assistance. We will pursue all options so that the citizens of Jackson won’t have to go through this again,” Wilson said.
“As a Republican, I reflect the wishes and politics of two thirds of this state. I am not a Ronald Reagan Republican. I am not a Dwight Eisenhower Republican. I am not a Donald Trump Republican. I am a Tate Reeves Republican,” Ponto stated. “Because the last time I checked, he’s in charge so I am going to comply with him. I can get 470 million dollars. There’s a simple way to do that. Sell the airport.”
Some of the other issues discussed were police violence, crime and other municipal issues.
There were a lot of important issues mentioned during the Mayor’s debate. To watch the debate, go to the Women for Progress Facebook page.
All of the candidates were tested for the Coronavirus prior to the debate except Downing, the Republican candidate, who refused to be tested.
The partisan primary for mayor for the City of Jackson will be held April 6, 2021. The deadline for filing for this election was February 6. The top two candidates will square off April 26 in a runoff election if no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote in the primary election. The general election is June 8.