Jackson voters showed they wanted to take a chance on Chokwe Antar Lumumba during the primary when he avoided a runoff despite a crowded Democratic ticket.
Then in Tuesday's general election, Lumumba garnered 93 percent of the vote against five other challengers, with more than 23,000 votes cast in his favor.
Now in an exclusive interview with 3 On Your Side's C.J. LeMaster, Mayor-Elect Lumumba says he’s ready to hit the ground running with strategies, a new vision, and a promising future for the Capital City.
Thanks for joining us. I appreciate your time. We talked during the campaign about what you bring to the table, about the People's Platform that you've discussed. What items do you think you'll be able to get off the ground first?
We want to see that we end the furloughs as soon as possible. We think that it doesn't really show our city employees dignity and respect, but in addition to that, it doesn't make good financial sense. Jackson is not a city that has a problem creating wealth. It's a city that has a problem maintaining wealth. And so, if you put more money in the people's hands who live and work here, you stand a greater chance of receiving it back. We also need to secure somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 million of uncollected revenue in our city. There may be a need to restructure some departments so that they flow and function in a more sound fashion, and that it's more fiscally sound, the way we operate it.
We talked about infrastructure concerns last month. You said those are critical issues facing the city. The biggest of those is potholes, bad roads.
If our strategy is to wait for $13 million annually, by the time we receive the last dollar in the twentieth year, then the first road we repave in year one will be in a worse state than it was the year we repaved it. We can't continue to kick this perpetual can down the road. B y creating space for a comprehensive master plan that tackles more work up front, then we support and nurture the environment for more economic development.
But here's the concern, though. We have a master plan the commission established and approved.
Well, when I say that we'll put forth a master plan, that doesn't necessarily suggest that we will scrap everything from their master plan. I think that we take a look at it and see what seems to work for the benefit of the city, providing more information, more resources, more data in the analysis of what direction we move in, and identify something that we all can agree upon. I do also believe that we can do a better job in leveraging the funds so that we can secure the resources to do more work immediately in our city.
Let's talk crime. I think one of the biggest questions on people's minds is who you'll appoint to lead the police department going forward.
We're gonna have an objective process, that, you know, reviews all applications, including the application of the current police chief, and make certain that we choose the person best suited to take on the job. We will also encourage that we change, you know, some of the dynamics within the command staff. If you don't do anything to attack the conditions that lead to crime, you can't simply out-police it. I tell people I'm no friend of crime. My older brother was shot in the head when I was in fourth grade right here in Jackson, Mississippi, and so we're gonna make it clear that this is not a place for crime.
When you talk about economic development, what will you do to help revitalize these parts of the city that are ripe for development, like Lake Hico, Highway 18 and 80, I mean, those corridors there?
We have to make certain that we have a strategy of economic development, that it's not only exclusive to downtown. We want to develop our downtown. We will have a strong downtown. But we also have to make sure that we develop around town. We don't want an island of wealth surrounded by a sea of poverty.
What do you hope to have truly accomplished in your first 100 days?
We've talked about crime. We've talked about economic development. We've talked about infrastructure. Your crumbling infrastructure can literally set the stage to become an economic frontier in how you address it in creating jobs. By the creation of jobs, you go a lot further in terms of attacking the conditions which typically lead to crime. I do believe that there's a nexus between issues, and so, being able to right the ship with one problem will aid you in setting the stage to correct some other issues. We have to demonstrate that we love our city enough that we're going to work together to clean it up. As I speak of Jackson being a jewel, not only a jewel of Mississippi but it can be a model for the world. I like to say we have a Pearl across the river, Jackson can be the diamond.
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