Based on an exclusive conversation with Dr. William Truly Jr. on We Believe Digital Podcast
By L. Socrates Garrett,
Host, We Believe Studios,
Canton, Mississippi has been in the news recently regarding the April 6 primary elections for mayor, board of aldermen and members of the Democratic Municipal Election Commission. Ballots for Cantonians to cast votes for the candidates of their choice have just been made available this week. State law requires that absentee ballots be available 45 days before an election.
Not so in Canton, Mississippi because of various maneuvers by the present Board of Aldermen which consist of Rodriquez Brown, Les Penn, Fred Esco, Daphne Sims, Timothy Taylor, Eric Gilkey and Lafayette Wales. This reporter examined court documents and the court documents indicate how Canton got to where we are today.
In 2017, the Canton, Mississippi Democratic Party held primary elections, in which the following individuals were elected to the Democratic Executive Committee:
John Scanlan, Natwassie Truly, Marion Freeman, Sr., Kathryn Irving and Nancy Wesley James.
Marion Freeman, Sr. said state law requires that there be 8 members on the committee.
Herein is where the problems begin. state law allows two ways to get to the 8 members. The existing members can appoint additional members or a convention can be held of qualified electors in the city to elect temporary members until the next city election.
A meeting was held as noticed on January 30, 2021 at 9 a.m., wherein, a duly convened membership of the Canton, Mississippi Democratic Party selected individuals as additional members to hold temporary positions on the Canton, Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee.
Meanwhile, two of the original elected members, Kathryn Irving and Nancy Wesley James resigned so two additional members had to be appointed to fill the vacancies. That was done. By letter dated February 5, 2021, and signed by Natwassie Truly, a member of the Municipal Democratic Executive Committee, names were submitted to Allison Majors, City Clerk of Canton, Mississippi, as comprising the Canton, Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee.
All individuals who qualified to run for any office was ultimately certified to run by the Democratic Party that sent Majors the February 5 letter.
Alderman Rodriquez Brown did not want an opponent. He challenged Colby Walker who is seeking the Ward 1 position by saying that Walker had not paid his qualifying fee. The City Attorney, Kim Banks, and all the aldermen, maintained this position even when a video showing Walker walking into City Hall on January 21, 2021 with the money order in hand was presented.
The City of Canton, Mississippi’s aldermen, all of whom were candidates for Democratic nomination for municipal office in the City of Canton, Mississippi, voted unanimously to usurp the right of the Canton Municipal Democratic Party to conduct its election for its party nominees when it had no legal authority to do so on February 2.
Mayor William Truly vetoed their illegal actions and the Board of Aldermen overrode his veto. Mayor Truly said that “The State of Mississippi nor any of its legislators ever intended or gave authority to governing authorities of a municipality to circumvent the statutory duties and responsibilities of a Municipal Democratic Executive Committee whose primary function is to govern and be in charge of primary elections. Primary elections throughout the state of Mississippi are governed by Democratic Executive Committees and/or Republican Executive Committees based on party affiliation. Governing Authorities of Municipalities in the state of Mississippi have no authority to choose who it wants to run its primaries by vote, ordinance, contract or agreements.”
According to court documents at a special called meeting of February 17, 2021 at 3:30 p.m. the Canton Board of Aldermen adopted a resolution proclaiming, in part, that “the City of Canton, Mississippi Temporary Executive Committee has failed to provide any proof that it was established pursuant to statute, the city has no legal authority to recognize the same.” The Board of Aldermen has nothing to do with primary elections.
The court documents show that in an act carried out by counsel for the City of Canton, Mississippi, which was without prior approval spread upon the minutes of the Board of Aldermen for the City of Canton, Mississippi, and without legal authority, by email dated February 8, 2021 to Allison Majors, the City Clerk of Canton, Mississippi, Attorney Kimberly Banks directed that a form letter prepared by her, be placed on the City of Canton’s letterhead with an attachment of qualifying papers and sent to Colby M. Walker, notifying him of his disqualification for party nomination. Banks is not a member of the Canton, Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee, nor does she represent the party.
Majors refused to sign the letter because the facts were not true. During the special called meeting, Majors was demoted from city clerk and Deborah Brown was elevated to city clerk.
Walker was summarily disqualified as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Alderman, Ward 1, without notice or an opportunity to be heard by Banks or the City of Canton, Mississippi. The disqualification letter simply stated that, “your Qualifying Statement of Intent does not comply with the statutory requirements, you have been disqualified as a candidate for party nomination of Alderman.”
Following this unauthorized act to disqualify Colby Walker, an email dated February 22, 2021 from Tyree Irving, chairman of the State Democratic Party, was sent to Attorney Banks, informing her of the following: “I am concerned about a couple of items that are on the agenda of a special virtual meeting of the City of Canton that is scheduled to be held this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. I am referring to items IV and V(a). I want you to know that the Mayor and Board of Aldermen have no authority to determine the qualifications or legality of the certification of any partisan candidate(s) for election as the nominee(s) of a political party. Under state law, that jurisdiction lies exclusively with the partisan municipal executive committee. While there is recourse available to any aggrieved candidate, it is not to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.”
Meanwhile the other Municipal Democratic Election Committee headed by John Scanlan, a republican, acting as the sole member of what he referred to as the “Legitimate Canton Municipal Democrat Election Commission,” submitted a slate of candidates to the Circuit Clerk of Madison County, Mississippi and the City Clerk of Canton, Mississippi for the 2021 Democratic Primary election. Scanlan, in his submission, disqualified William Truly, a candidate for Mayor, Rodriquez Brown, a candidate for Alderman Ward 1, Fred Esco, a candidate for Alderman Ward 2 and Monica Johnson Gilkey, a candidate for Alderman Ward 6.
Natwassie Truly and Marion Freeman, Sr., two of the three remaining elected members to the Canton, Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee elected in 2017, submitted under their signature to Deborah Brown, City Clerk of the City of Canton, Mississippi, a list of the “Candidates Qualified to stand for election.” There were no candidates disqualified to run for office in the submission by Freeman and Truly.
In a submission, dated February 19, 2021, bearing what purports to be the signature of Marion Freeman, Sr. to Deborah Brown, City Clerk of Canton, Mississippi, the submission left the name of Colby Walker off as a candidate for Ward 1, leaving Rodriquez Brown unopposed. No reason was given for the disqualification of Colby Walker.
The City of Canton, Mississippi, by resolution adopted February 22, 2021 by unanimous vote of all seven (7) of its Board of Aldermen, states in part, the following:
WHEREAS, due to the competing nature of three (3) submissions, and the apparent deficiencies in all three (3), in the interest of fairness, the City hereby directs that the ballot contain the names of all candidates who met the Mississippi statutory qualifying deadline to include those names attached as Exhibit “4,” with attached Qualifying Statements of Intent, and qualifying fees.
Mayor William Truly, Jr., vetoed the actions of the Board of Aldermen at its meeting of February 22, 2021. In his veto, Mayor Truly addressed Item V on the agenda regarding the qualifications of Colby Walker.
The court documents state that “In effect, likely for the first time ever in the annals of political elections in the state of Mississippi, the candidates voted to qualify themselves for a primary election, and to disqualify a non-incumbent candidate.”
Alderman Rodriquez Brown challenged Walker’s candidacy on the alleged grounds that Natwassie Truly, a member of the Canton, Mississippi Municipal Democratic Executive Committee, submitted his MoneyGram to the City Clerk on February 5, 2021, the last date for candidates to qualify to run in the April, 2021 Primary Election at 5:15 p.m. The MoneyGram was alleged to have been submitted 15 minutes after the qualifying deadline.
Alderman Brown’s challenge was heard by the Democratic Executive Committee, after which his challenge was denied, and Walker was deemed qualified to run in the Democratic Primary for Ward 1.
Notwithstanding the failed challenge to the qualifications of Walker, the City of Canton, Mississippi has engaged in a persistent heroic effort to have Walker removed from the ballot as a candidate for Ward 1. Colby Walker, and the citizens of Ward 1, have a constitutionally granted voice in electing the persons of their choice that should not be abridged by those sworn to represent their interests.
Judge Lamar Pickard ruled that all candidates’ names would be on the ballot after several hearings. Despite the judge’s ruling, the City Attorney, Kim Banks on March 22, 2021 sent a letter saying if Colby Walker’s name was on a ballot the City could not participate. Mayor William Truly then held a press conference informing the public that the City Attorney Kim Banks had no authority to do so. He indicated that she does not speak for the city unless authorized to do so and she had not. The mayor went on to say that the city has no authority to determine who gets on the ballot in a primary.
What is going on in Canton? The present aldermen have made themselves kings and do not wish to be evaluated by their subjects. There is an election April 6 and Canton, Mississippi you need to go and vote for anyone but these present aldermen.
It should be noted that Alderman Eric Gilkey did not seek reelection because he has a job with Canton Municipal Utilities. CMU prohibits employees from running for office. What did he do? He put his wife, Monica Johnson Gilkey, in the race.
Each one of the present aldermen, either got themselves a job at CMU or Canton Public Schools, or their children, uncles, sisters and friends jobs at the City, CMU or Canton Public Schools.
If you want to go back a few years in history, they stacked the school board to get rid of Superintendent Cassandra Williams because she was trying to run the schools professionally and not with cronyism.
This same Board of Aldermen tried to stack the CMU Board to give an engineer $6.2 million for work that a district court and the Fifth Circuit said he was not entitled to receive. Mayor William Truly fought for one and one-half years at every board meeting vetoing appointments to prevent the stacking of the CMU Board. In fact, the same engineer billed the City of Canton $1.5 million for 4 years. Mayor Truly discovered this when the citizens of Canton re-elected him in 2017. When he pointed it out to the aldermen, they fanged surprise.
Canton, Mississippi vote April 6.
To hear the conversation between Socrates Garrett and Dr. Truly go to webelievedigital.com and click on Socrates Garrett Live.