Fifteen Contenders Vying for Mississippi Mayoral Seat - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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As the poorest state capital in the country, Jackson, Mississippi is rich in mayoral candidates for the upcoming primary tomorrow. Fourteen people (nine Democrats, four Independents, and one Republican) will challenge Jackson’s incumbent mayor, Democrat Frank Melton, as he pursues a bid for re-election. Among his top challengers are the former mayor, Harvey Johnson; Crisler Marshand, a current city councilman; and current Mississippi State Sen. John Hohrn.

Reducing crime, rehabilitating housing, recruiting businesses to the city, and repairing Jackson’s infrastructure are the top concerns for Jackson residents, says Leslie B. McLemore, president of the Jackson City Council, and professor of political science at Jackson State University.

“If you drive the streets of Jackson there are so many potholes, if you avoid one, you hit another,” Hohrn says.

Melton agrees that after two hurricanes and a tornado within the last five years, the streets should have been resurfaced sooner, but the budget did not allocate enough money for it and the large equipment used to remove hurricane debris exacerbated the problem, he says. Now, with $26 million from a bonding program, he is planning to pave all seven wards at the same time.

After winning the mayor’s office on a crime-busters platform, many critics say that Melton, the former director of the bureau of narcotics, has neglected everything except policing neighborhoods with his bodyguards.

“He really wants to be the chief of police. He rides around the city of Jackson with a gangster mentality and that is not appropriate for the city,” says McLemore, who will not endorse any candidate.

In fact, Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin, who endorses Crisler, says he resigned in April from his dual post as Jackson Police Chief because he could no longer align himself politically with Melton, reports the Clarion Ledger. Crisler also received an endorsement from Nina Holbrook, another top city administrator who resigned rather than support Melton.

Melton, 60, has seen his share of court problems this year. First he won a case against The Jackson Municipal Democratic Executive Committee who voted unanimously to remove him from the Democratic Ballot. In a separate incident, he is currently awaiting a federal retrial scheduled to begin May 11 where he was accused of violating the civil rights of a homeowner and her tenant when he ordered the destruction of their private residence in 2006. Melton called his alleged sledgehammer demolition of the property– which he considered a “crack house”– an “administrative mistake.”

At the time Melton said he was in the process of removing 700 homes from the city that were abandoned and being used for illicit behavior. Melton said that he received permission from the Environmental Protection Agency. “Out of 700, I made a mistake on one,” Melton says. He says he has built some 700 single-family homes in the city.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.