This open letter came late on runoff night. We are reposting it verbatim. Send other "open letter" submissions (up to 1,000 words with verifiable facts and respectful tone) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Mr. Lumumba,
We are a white couple in our early 30s that live in Ward Seven who did not vote for you. That said, congratulations on winning the Democratic primary for the Jackson mayoral election tonight. While many people in town are celebrating with you, there are many people who have many fears about the next four years.
• What is going to happen with the infrastructure issues of Jackson in all wards? (Will the large sinkhole on Old Canton Road ever get fixed?)
• Will you be fair towards advancing all wards of Jackson and uniting the city?
• Will the public schools in our area be the best (or even a good) educational option for our children?
• Will economic growth be encouraged in all wards?
• Will there be a continued (or even an increase) in wealth and opportunities leaving the city out of fear and uncertainty?
• Will crime increase in the city?
Should you be elected mayor, we—and many other Ward 1 and Ward 7 residents—would like to work with you to help achieve solution to these long-standing issues facing Jacksonians.
We have chosen to raise our family in Jackson and consciously make every effort to support local businesses and restaurants. We have been extremely saddened to hear of businesses moving out of Jackson city limits and into surrounding cities. Our hope is that others will make a similar commitment to support Jackson. However, on paper, we realize that it does not make sense for us to live in Jackson.
• Our property taxes and car tags are significantly higher than other cities in the metro area.
• With businesses moving out of Jackson, it is often difficult to not give sales tax money to other cities in the metro area. (Once Sam's Club leaves its current location, should we go to the new Madison store or the one in Pearl? We want to keep our sales tax money here, but these are the real decisions we face.)
• The crime rate and perception of Jackson intimidates many of our friends/family who don’t feel comfortable coming to our house at night.
• We don’t feel like we can send our kids to their assigned elementary school as it is a “failing” school with a level 2 rating without a multi-racial environment.
• Our roads and pipes are crumbling.
But we love it here. We love our neighbors. We love the local restaurants. We love the festivals/events. We love our church. We love the future that we believe Jackson can have.
We chose to live here to be part of a movement … moving Jackson forward. We don’t want to leave the city. So, how can we partner together, with you to help Jackson—all of Jackson?
Together, I hope we can make great strides in Jackson over the next four years.
Our main question to you, Mr. Lumumba, will you work with us?
We plead with you to reach out to the constituents of Ward 1 and Ward 7 with a message of inclusion. Please allay the fears that have been generated during this election process.
— Todd and Carley Dear
Note: Councilman Lumumba discusses some of these issues here in both his JFP Interview and in this audio of an interview with the JFP editorial board.