Wednesday, June 28, 2017
It's an exciting time to be a Jacksonian. In the midst of what continues to be a turbulent federal administrative transition out of Washington, D.C., local government can provide citizens a much more direct, engaging and, perhaps, less exhausting political process. Mayor-elect Chokwe Antar Lumumba is set to be inaugurated next week, on July 3, and while his messages of radical change and community-first politics are encouraging, we urge the mayor-elect to hit the ground sprinting.
While excitement for a fresh start is natural, the city really can't wait long after the dust clears to move forward. New council members will need to get quickly acquainted to the countless lawsuits that will linger regardless of who is mayor. The new administration must jump into discussions with state officials immediately to have a role in implementing the Capitol Complex District plans.
Leadership will be critical to the success of a new city administration—particularly in areas like the police and public works departments as well as the Jackson Public Schools board of trustees. JPS faces deadlines for the rest of the summer to meet requirements in its Corrective Action Plan—or else there's a strong possibility that the state could take over the district. Lumumba must move quickly to appoint three new school-board members with the energy, tenacity and ability to hold district officials accountable as well as maintain a sense of creative urgency in order to keep our schools afloat and in our hands.
Similarly, the police department, still in the midst of litigation alleging discriminatory personnel issues, has a lot of work to do. JPD responds to calls about shootings almost nightly, and the city reeled over the murder of 6-year-old Kingston Frazier. Now is the time to lean in to evidence-based policing strategies that go far beyond more cops.
The city's streets and water-system problems are also no secret to any Jacksonian, and we will be watching how the new administration attempts to fix infrastructure, maintain what we've got and look ahead to new development. Maintaining a steady focus on Jackson's people, who make the city the great place it is, instead of offering contracts or jobs to friends and donors is crucial. As Mississippi's capital, we cannot afford more mistakes, lawsuits or political games. The budget is tight—as is the state's, and every economic-development move should be an ethical one, with the people in mind.
We're excited to see the work, progress, ideas, energy and journey of the Lumumba administration unfold, and we plan to hold them accountable and suggest solutions every step of the way.