I am an unapologetic child of the '80s. Raised in a pretty strict fundamentalist Christian home, I was not allowed to watch many movies. It was a big deal when I was able to watch "Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome" at my aunt's house. I think I sang "We Don't Need Another Hero" under my breath for a solid month.
Lately, I can't seem to get that song out of my head as I think about the Jackson race for mayor. In the past, Jackson has fallen for the candidate that campaigned on a platform of saving Jackson from itself, and it didn't work.
Frank Melton was allowed to sell himself as a hero who had a way to save Jackson pretty much all by himself. When I look back at some of the election coverage of that race, it's almost a campaign for a superhero, not a realistic vision for running a capital city. I was not surprised when his administration was a mess because he had issues coloring inside the lines. He had decided the city was out of control and needed extreme measures to save it. He did things the way he wanted, and we as a city suffered the consequences.
Now, as we are faced with the challenge of moving forward after the loss of Mayor Lumumba, I recognize the appeal of being told there is someone who can save us. Yet the truth is, Jackson, we don't need another hero. We need someone who will engage in listening to citizens and diverse voices and then take all that information, make the tough choices and move us forward.
Our next leader needs to use the strengths we have; to build on what is already working while also not being afraid to look at best practices and what is working beyond the city and state boundaries. The next mayor not only needs a realistic approach to crime that shouldn't make Jackson sound like some lawless Wild West den of death and vice. They should be able to balance new development with the needs for renters and average Jackson residents to not be priced out of their homes and business properties.
When it comes to infrastructure, one of our city's greatest challenges is that we need real plans, not simple claims to make service faster.
Jackson, you don't have to agree with me on who we need to lead our city, but I do challenge you to look closely to ensure that they aren't selling us a dream of being saved through their sheer awesomeness. We need the reality of hard work toward long-term goals that will set Jackson toward success. It takes all of us to improve Jackson, not just our city government. Tina Turner said it best. "We don't need another hero, we don't need to know the way home."