Yarber, Lumumba Battle for South Jackson | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Yarber, Lumumba Battle for South Jackson

South Jackson may be the most important battleground in the April 22 runoff between Chokwe A. Lumumba (right) and Tony Yarber (left).

South Jackson may be the most important battleground in the April 22 runoff between Chokwe A. Lumumba (right) and Tony Yarber (left). Photo by Trip Burns.

Generally speaking, south Jackson covers a good chunk of real estate, stretching from about Interstate 20 toward the city of Byram. Its rough-and-tumble reputation is a source of both neighborhood pride and, if you watch local TV news, sometimes, embarrassment.

It may be the most important battleground in the April 22 runoff between Chokwe A. Lumumba and Tony Yarber, the popular councilman who has represented a good-size portion of south Jackson since 2009. Lumumba grew up clear on the other side of the city, in northwest Jackson, but believes his family's history of human-rights activism and legal advocacy appeals to working-class voters in south Jackson.

Over the weekend, each candidate devoted a good amount of time to campaigning in the neighborhood. On Sunday, Yarber's campaign hosted a crawfish boil in Forest Hill Park in Ward 6. Many of the attendees were people who had known him for a long time and are most impressed by his experience on the council, which includes a stint as council president and chairman of several standing and ad hoc committees.

Even though pieces of four city wards comprise south Jackson, Yarber said residents lay the blame for all of south Jackson's challenges at his feet (though he also concedes he enjoys receiving a lot of the credit for south Jackson's successes as well).

As he campaigns in his own ward, Yarber said voters want what Jackson voters want in every election—smoother roads, less crime—but he has noticed an uptick in complaints about approximately-35-percent water rate hikes that went into effect under the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba.

"I've heard that every day I've been out here for the last week. It's crazy. At our house, we just got $380-something water bill. And my mama had a $500-something water bill not long ago," Yarber said, adding that, if he becomes mayor, he could ask the council to reconsider the rate increases if adjustments can be made in the city's budget.

"I voted for that," Yarber said of the water rate hike, "but my reservation was, why couldn't we move it incrementally? We're here now. It's something that we're going to have to look at."

Chokwe A. Lumumba, Yarber's opponent, also spent part of the weekend canvassing in south Jackson. While walking door to door in Ward 6 on Friday afternoon, Lumumba heard similar complaints about the area's infrastructure problems and asserted how his administration would fix those problems by putting Jacksonians to work.

"We have to fix our infrastructure. We've done more to do that in the last seven months by getting this 1-percent sales tax passed. We also have to put people to work at the same time while we're doing that. We are the only campaign who is saying how that is going to happen," Lumumba told one south Jackson man, talking on the man's doorstep.

One resident in particular was concerned with some of the housing conditions in the neighborhood, saying that he has asked Ward 6 Councilman Yarber several times to take care of a few dilapidated homes, but that nothing has since been done.

Yarber points out that as one member of the city council, he can personally do little to have a street resurfaced or an abandoned home torn down. Another resident told Lumumba, 31, that she had gone before city council several times in the past when other mayors were in office to talk about the conditions in Ward 6, and it did not seem like anything was being done to remedy the problems, specifically the conditions around her street.

She added that she is pleased with Yarber and was considering voting for him, attributing some of the recent improvements to the neighborhood to him. Lumumba responded that the recent improvements were not done in part by city council but by his father.

"City councilmen cannot direct people to do anything," Lumumba said, seemingly turning Yarber's sentiment against him. "So the reason why things weren't getting done in the past is because city councilmen were making suggestions, and you did not have a mayor in office who was taking the time to do that."

The candidates will discuss infrastructure and other neighborhood concerns in several public events held over the next few days. Tonight, April 14, Tougaloo College hosts a conversation with the candidates at 7 p.m. at the Bennie G. Thompson Academic and Civil Rights Research Center.

On Tuesday, April 15, a meet-and-greet with the candidates hosted by the Mississippi Minority Business Alliance will take place at Metrocenter at 6 p.m, and on Wednesday, April 16, WAPT and the Clarion-Ledger will host an hour-long debate at the Mississippi College School of Law at 7 p.m.

Comments

mscbo39 4 years, 7 months ago

JFP, please do a context story on how the 1% sales tax and increased water/sewer fees will be used . People are looking to better paved streets. But from what I heard at one of the neighborhood forums on the tax and fee, the vast majority of the funds will go to address EPA complaints about the sewer plant and overflows into public streams. Ordinary city streets and water breaks in neighborhoods are not going to be a priority. We've got to address the EPA complaints, but citizens need to understand the details and why the money must be spent this way. The worst thing would be to snip around the edges of the funding to address complaints and not solve the regulatory problem.

0

justjess 4 years, 7 months ago

"Lumumba responded that the recent improvements were not done in part by city council but by his father." He also stated, according to the articel, "So the reason why things weren't getting done in the past is because city councilmen were making suggestions, and you did not have a mayor in office who was taking the time to do that" .

This is a slap in the face for people who know the story about what Mayor did what for Jackson and when these things were done. Lumumba was only in office 7 months. City Hall operated like a part time entity during those 7 months. Maybe one could assume that the Mayor and his staff could get their work done in record time and could leave, almost daily, before 5.

Johnson lost the race, but, his legacy should not be lost by negative reports or lies for the sake of gaining political favor.

It was bad enough listening to so many voters say, "Johnson has not done ANYTHING" or that he "Just moved back to Jackson from Madison to run for office." This was the product of low informational voters being told anything negative and their running like a bunch of chickens whose hen house had been hit by a ton of bricks.

Of course there were others who should not have been politically visible,i., e. , the D.A. and a US Rep. This was unbelievable!

With Lumumba, this is a very different story and Johnson voters/supporters will not let him get away with lies about Johnson who worked tirelessly and whose planted seeds are being seen, but, whose credits are being given to someone who does not deserve them.

It ain't going to happen!

0

tripburns 4 years, 7 months ago

Justjess, will you back up your statements about city hall being like a "part-time entity?" Based on what? Compared to what?

Also, if it's a "slap in the face for people who know the story about what Mayor did what and when these things were done," then please go further as to what you mean.

0

sarahmina 4 years, 7 months ago

Harvey Johnson lost the race, not because of Mayor Lumumba, but because of his own record. No one disputes the contribution that Mr. Johnson made to the city, but MANY acknowledge his stubborness, unwillingness to LISTEN to other ideas, and rigidity. Eventually that will catch up with you - and it DID. The "Voters" of the city spoke twice on this issue. It is more than just selfish and petty for for Jestjess to encourage a no vote for Lumumba because of a comment that was made about how he viewed his father's admimnistration. It is shortsighted and economically, politically, and socially disastrous for the citizens of this city, particulary those who will benefit the least from the "Peoples Platform". Whatever Mr. Harvey has done is recorded in history and will not be forgotten or marginalized. That doesn't mean however, that it is not time for a Change.

For WAY too long we've continued to elect "POLITICIANS", people who say the "right" things to get what they want. No one in this campaign but Chokwe Antar Lumumba is talking innovation, inclusion of the "REAL' voice of the people least heard, a proposed 60% usage of Jacksonians to work on city contracts, the setting up of Peoples' Assemblies across the city to eduate the populace to make informed decisions that are in "THEIR INTEREST" - They have input on the decison that have heretofore been left to the politicians. A people's plan that is bringing in hundreds of people from outside Jackson to an economic development summit to explore how WE can become more economically self sufficient and have more of an economic presence in our own community. There are new and exciting ideas out there - Chokwe Antar Lumumba will push the new People's Agenda forward - WE WILL ALL RISE TOGETHER OR WE'LL ALL FALL TOGETHER BUT IT WONT BE FOR A LACK OF TRYING or because we never had a VISION THAT WE COULD BELIEVE WAS WORTH FIGHTING FOR!!!

0

justjess 4 years, 7 months ago

@The Gentleman/Gentle Woman (Tripburns) "Justjess, will you back up your statements about city hall being like a "part-time entity?" Based on what? Compared to what?

This charge can be verified by anyone who worked for the past Administration to include members of the Council who are willing to tell the truth. Also, I along with other citizens from my Ward, have tried to make contact on many occassions, on the phone and in person, wherein the only person present was the janitor. Perhaps the janitor will bear witness to the number of times he has tried to answer in the absence of others.

You asked that I "please go further as to what you mean" referring to the accomplishments of Mayor Johnson and when these things were done.

You have asked me to produce the "Herculean" list of accomplishments by former Mayor Harvey Johnson during his 3 terms in office. To be fair, my suggestion to you is to utilize your intellectual prowess to secure your request through the Freedom of Information. It would be easier for you to list, for voters, the accomplishments of Chokwe Lumumba since there were only two: The vote for the 1% tax increase which was drafted by former Mayor Harvey Johnson, but, not put on the ballot for a vote because of the 10 member Comission Board. Remember, Jackson 's Mayor and Council will only have 3 votes. This is known as "Taxation without Representation." In other words, WE PAY:THEY SAY.

We are left at the mercy of Tate Reeves, Gov. Phyl Bryant , The Speaker of the House and the Chamber of Commerce. No Fair! The only other thing that could possible be included is the 108% kick in the behind water and sewer increase. Johnson had a 17 year plan but the Lumumba Administration said, "We can't keep kicking the can down the road. " Sometimes we must have a payment plan!

Now, members of the Jackson community are carrying cans of warter from their neighbor's house because their services have been interrupted. We could not afford this severe increase.

0

tripburns 4 years, 7 months ago

@justjess: Asking me to verify what I asked you to back up is hardly an answer. And I don't know who you are referring to when you say "members of the Council who are willing to tell the truth." Who would that be?

I never once asked you to list any accomplishments, must less of a "Herculean" nature. I also never mentioned Mayor Harvey Johnson.

Why are you defending Mayor Johnson so viciously? From all accounts, he seems to be a thought of in good terms for all the years he served.

Let me tell you this. It may be true that Mayor Johnson was the original "drafter" of the 1% sales tax. I will not dispute this because I have no proof either way. It's my understanding that many ideas are not singular and require collaboration with other people, even former leaders. I do not know if this collaboration happened between Lumumba or Johnson.

However, it was Mayor Lumumba who was in the town hall meetings (alone, I might add), calmly explaining and answering any kind of question there was about it. That was, to me, the essence of his leadership. The dude would just lay it all out in terms everyone could understand. And he didn't depend on surrogates to do his work. That was him up there just talking.

I once saw him in a town hall meeting in a church, explaining the 1% sales tax. He illustrated many problems with the water, the pipes, and infrastructure. I'm paraphrasing, but he said we can't just pray to have the water fixed, it's going to take some work. He said this in a church full of voters.

So I personally saw Lumumba do the leg work to get that thing approved by the voters -- which it was, much to the surprise of a lot of people, maybe even Lumumba himself.

0

justjess 4 years, 7 months ago

It is my opinion that the "leg work" for the 1% sales tax increase should have been done with Phyl Bryant, Tate Reeves, The Speaker of the House and the Chamber of Commerce. These were the power brokers: The ones who held and continue to hold the purse string and with the voting power to say what, when and where. Mayor Lumumba accepted these conditions without any kind of written agreement.

The tax vote was an easy one to sell. Just as it was easy for you to address this issue rather than focus on the severe increase in water/sewer bills resulting in so many people having their services interrupted. I attended two of the town meetings. Lumumba was not "{alone, I might add)". There were people there from Public Works. One employee actually brought a piece of pipe to show the condition of our 100+ year old pipes. The JFP did a story on one of the meeting where citizens on fixed incomes registered concerns about not being able to pay any additional fees. They were told that a certain sum would be set aside to assist with bills for the indigent. Legal would be forced to give the truth of the matter because I can not use your tax dollars to pay my bills.

For the sake of terminating this exchance, you have made my case. I earlier stated that Mayor Lumumba did two things while in office. So, your saying that he got the vote approved for the 1% sales tax increase was certainly one of them. Add the water/sewer increase and you will have the sum total of his accomplishments.

I supported Lumumba after Johnson was defeated. My comments here are not designed to do anything but to tell the truth.

0

justjess 4 years, 7 months ago

It is my opinion that the "leg work" for the 1% sales tax increase should have been done with Phyl Bryant, Tate Reeves, The Speaker of the House and the Chamber of Commerce. These were the power brokers: The ones who held and continue to hold the purse string and with the voting power to say what, when and where. Mayor Lumumba accepted these conditions without any kind of written agreement.

The tax vote was an easy one to sell. Just as it was easy for you to address this issue rather than focus on the severe increase in water/sewer bills resulting in so many people having their services interrupted. I attended two of the town meetings. Lumumba was not "{alone, I might add)". There were people there from Public Works. One employee actually brought a piece of pipe to show the condition of our 100+ year old pipes. The JFP did a story on one of the meeting where citizens on fixed incomes registered concerns about not being able to pay any additional fees. They were told that a certain sum would be set aside to assist with bills for the indigent. Legal would be forced to give the truth of the matter because I can not use your tax dollars to pay my bills.

For the sake of terminating this exchance, you have made my case. I earlier stated that Mayor Lumumba did two things while in office. So, your saying that he got the vote approved for the 1% sales tax increase was certainly one of them. Add the water/sewer increase and you will have the sum total of his accomplishments.

I supported Lumumba after Johnson was defeated. My comments here are not designed to do anything but to tell the truth.

0

sarahmina 4 years, 7 months ago

Mayor Lumumba did a LOT more than pass the sales tax. He gave HOPE to a populace that things could get better for THEM!!! He brought a "PEOPLE'S PLAN" TO THE PEOPLE OF JACKSON - If you take the time to read it you will see how empowering it is. When people are involved in the decisions that directly affect their lives, they take ownership and accountability is not just another word.

HOPE is more powerful than any other emotion. We are talking about creating a NEW Jackson based on old and NEW ideas - creating a template that can be used in other urban cities across the country. A true government of and for the people. It is an exciting time. We can either have courage and hope and go forward OR we can fall back and embrace the status quo. Believe in yourself and your power as a people to create a new day in Jackson that benefits ALL of the people, not just a few.

1

justjess 4 years, 7 months ago

@sarahmina

Good luck with the "PEOPLE'S PLAN; however, the pople who will need cultivating are the 7 members of the council who control budgetary spending. The "PEOPLE" elected them to speak for them.

I have read the "People's Plan". Malcolm X died 49 years ago and the germ of his plan is what your delivery of ideas is based on. Had Malcolm lived, there would have been many political adjustments.

Hope is a powerful emotion; however, HOPE without SUBSTANCE to back it up is like TELLING a horse the word "OATS" and expecting him to be FULL.

0

Milagros 4 years, 7 months ago

*Jacksonians pick up the mantle left by your former mayor and move FORWARD! it is time that the state and the city as well as its res be looked upon as a power to be reckoned with

0

ericbrown 4 years, 7 months ago

First sentence of the article already has an incorrect fact:

Byram is an incorporated city - not a "town"

0

tstauffer 4 years, 7 months ago

@ericbrown: Thanks for the correction; you're right that Byram, while a "town" in many people's estimation, is technically an incorporated city. We'll correct that.

That said, since you've expressed an interest in parsing the language carefully, I'm obligated to point out the error in your comment -- there's technically no such thing as an "incorrect fact." :)

0
comments powered by Disqus