Voters go to the polls in five days to select a new Jackson mayor of Jackson. We talked with incumbent city councilman and lawyer, Melvin Priester, Jr. about his vision for the capital city.
The Harvard and Stanford educated attorney hopes to bring new life to a city with serious challenges.
"I think the people of Jackson understand that we have to have some fresh new energy and bring some new technology to Jackson," said Priester.
Thirty-five year old Priester serves as President of the Jackson City Council. He says it's time for a new approach.
"I'm trying to bring some common sense to the capitol city," said Priester. "If my business was run like the city of Jackson's business is run, I'd be out of business. That's a unique thing I bring, also we've got to think for the future."
Priester says he is tired of Jackson trying to keep up with others cities adding, it's time for Jackson to get ahead.
"We've got this 1 % sales tax that's going to generate between 12-15 million dollars but we've got hundreds of millions of dollars worth of problems," said Priester. "If we don't have detailed oriented leadership, we won't get through the gate and we will miss this great moment and this great opportunity we have right now."
Priester uses terms like fresh approach, make Jackson green and save money, right size the public works department, demand improvement from the school board, priority based budgeting. And step away from old school ways of doing things.
"I think the Farish Street project is an example of how an old school leadership style thought about how to change Jackson," said Priester. "My school of leaderships believes that we have to build Jackson with the people that are already here."
Priester says Jackson's woes are personally frustrating, but can be addressed and have to be addressed in the next 4 years.
He says a project management office is needed.
"Because we are about to embark on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of infrastructure improvements," Priester added. "Right now we do not have the staff in house to make sure we are building those projects building them right; to spec, and we are getting the most of taxpayer dollars."
Priester was recently endorsed by longtime congressman Bennie Thompson and vows to bring together all parties from all parts of Jackson to lead the city forward into the future.
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