Today, Rick Whitlow released a detailed 2009 mayoral campaign platform. "This is the platform from which I will work should I decide to run for the Office of Mayor in Jackson," he said in an e-mail to media. "There are still several matters I have to take into consideration before making a final decision on my candidacy. The decision will officially be announced the first week of March just prior to the filing deadline." The full platform and Whitlow's biography are below, verbatim.
Rick Whitlow Biography:
I have lived in Jackson for nearly 24 years arriving in the Capital City in August 1985.
I graduated from Illinois State University with degrees in Pre-Law, and Criminal Justice. I have always looked for opportunities to volunteer my time to public service. I currently serve on the Mississippi Baptist Medical Center Board of Directors. I have also served as a volunteer on the boards of Make-A-Wish, and Metro Jackson YMCA. In 2004 I served on the Jackson Public Schools Strategic Planning team, and I am also a proud alumni of Greater Leadership Jackson Class of 2004. ( The greatest class.) I went to college on a basketball scholarship, and was drafted by the Houston Rockets in the 1975 NBA player draft. Much of my working career has been in the broadcast journalism industry as a news, and sports anchor/reporter. In 2004 I served as Executive Director of the crime watchdog organization SafeCity Initiative. I worked in the Executive Directors office at the Mississippi Department of Human Services as Director of Media Relations. I also worked in the executive branch for the City of Jackson serving in the capacity of Director of Inter-Governmental Affairs. Currently I am a financial advisor, and life insurance agent for New York Life Insurance Company. I have two children, Eric 24, and Candace 17.
2009 Platform Issues:
1. Crime Reduction
2. Economic Development
3. Fiscal Responsibility
5. Disabled Citizens Initiative
6. Healthy Jackson Initiative
I will spend no time during this campaign pounding my chest pandering to citizen's fears, and pretending I have a magic wand to solve the crime crisis in the city of Jackson. There is no doubt, and no question that we have a serious crime problem. But we must not let the small percentage of career law breakers define us as a city. However, with that said we must do a better job of addressing the crime crisis. My administration believes in the various elements of community policing, and will implement policies reflecting that philosophy. Including, but not limited to officers developing relationships of substance with the people in the areas in which they serve. Also increase police presence in known troubled areas. My administration will accomplish increased police presence by hiring more qualified officers, and making the Jackson Police Department a desirable place to work. I believe officer morale can be improved by implementing new standards for what is required to become a Jackson Police officer. My administration will also develop a clear promotional structure so officers know what is required to advance within the department. This will allow officers to plan their careers, and take advantage of continuing education in their respective field, interests, and specialties.
I believe that as long as sensitive information of personnel, and investigations is not compromised. The police department, it's policies, and procedures should be transparent to the public, and my administration will insist that transparency prevails whenever possible. I believe that by becoming a safe, and business friendly city we will be able to pay for improved public safety, and infrastructure by expanding our tax base. Making sure we are always responsible with tax payer dollars. Also I believe we have to utilize, and manage properly available public safety grants, and other federal monies for which we may be eligible. Upon receiving said monies be accountable, transparent, and good stewards of how it is spent. My administration will also develop an aggressive plan to appeal to the state legislature to consider a concept called Payment In Lieu Of Taxes. (P.I.L.O.T.) This is not a new idea, but one that needs to be extensively explored. It would provide an income source for the city of Jackson that would allow us to hire more police officers, firefighters, and fund many street paving projects. It would also help us address some water, sewer, and other infrastructure issues. It is certainly an idea that's time has come, and my administration will fight for it. As far as the Chief-Sheriff situation is concerned. I will not be presumptuous enough to make personnel decisions of this importance during a campaign before I have all the information required to make such a decision. I have a lot of respect for all those working in high levels in the Jackson Police Department. However, the job of Police Chief like all other Mayoral appointed positions will be fairly evaluated. A decision about it will be made quickly, and in the best interests of the citizens of Jackson.
(Restoring Order Through Faith, Family, and Hard Work)
The City of Jackson is progressively on the move, and under my administration that pace will accelerate. I will work hard to make sure that we create a climate that is business friendly to both large, and small entrepreneurs. My administration will work to make Jackson an easy desirable place to do business. We have some wonderful projects going on in the downtown area. I want to make sure that if, and when the Pearl River gets angry again those projects will not be under water. Flood control is a major concern to me. I believe economic development follows shorelines. I will be a vocal advocate of business, and residential development along the Pearl River. My administration will take the lead on how to combine the levee system with the Two Lakes project which would alleviate our flood problems, and create new business, and residential opportunities. This can be accomplished by bringing together the entities involved, and negotiating a complicated, but fair deal which everyone including environmentalists could live with, and best serve the Metro Jackson area.
As I mentioned, I believe economic development follows shorelines. It is in that spirit I believe we could put Lake Hico to better use. It is a 635 acre near perfect square park, with a 400 plus acre lake located in the inner city currently being used as a cooling pond. It has been closed since 1967. I know there are liability, and environmental issues that need to be addressed, but I would be for addressing those issues, and exploring ways to have the lake better serve the community. I would encourage Entergy, and the Jackson Public School system to form a new partnership that can reach an agreement on how to better use this lake which I envision some day becoming a major tourist attraction.
For nearly 18 years I lived in south Jackson. I will work to make investing in that area a positive thing to do, especially along the seven mile stretch of Highway 80. Creating the right business environment that is favorable to large, and small entrepreneurs will revive this area, and help expand our tax base. I envision the Highway 80 corridor producing the same kind of tax dollars that Lakeland Drive produces in Flowood, and Rankin County. This is something we can do. In fact it is something we must do. When my children were young we shopped at stores, went to movies, and ate at restaurants in, and around the Metro Center. Those establishments no longer exist, I will work to bring them back so young families can enjoy the same safe, and fulfilling experiences my family enjoyed in south Jackson. The many projects that are happening in Jackson should compliment each other, not compete against each other. It all a part of the Whitlow plan to bring the city together. So that citizens dreams whether they be small, or big dreams can be realized. I think that if you give people an opportunity to succeed, and create an environment where they can do so, the growth of our city is unlimited. As we continue our progressive, and aggressive march into the future. We will only be limited by our imagination.
(Restoring Order Through Faith Family, and Hard Work)
NO WASTE, NO FRAUD, NO ABUSE.
Tranparency, and honesty is another way we will Restore Order Through Faith, Family, and Hard Work.
My administration will run the city like a well oiled public business machine. Transparent for all to see whenever they choose to look. We will do the people's business, and make sure they are aware of the business we are doing. For the past five years I have been a voting member on the Mississippi Baptist Health Systems Board of Directors. Working hand, and hand. Elbow to elbow with some of the most brilliant financial minds in the country. Not only have I worked with them, but I have listened, and learned about how high finance works, and how to be fiscally responsible, and get things done. I am a fiscal conservative, and will spend no time apologizing for believing in that philosophy. I am an independent businessman providing New York Life Insurance services. I know how to be financially responsible.
Under my administration there will be no stealth budgets. City Council members will be systematically and routinely kept well informed of the Mayor's Office financial goals, hopes, and dreams. My administration will be good stewards of tax payer money. We will be on time, responsible, and accountable for how money is spent. Citizens will be able to see their tax dollars at work with better infrastructure, improved public safety, and an overall better quality of life. This will be accomplished by having an open government. For the people by the people. Although Federal funding is necessary, and currently available I promise we will get, and manage properly those funds of which we are eligible. But I envision a day when we wisely use federal funds to fill in economic, transportation, and infrastructure gaps. Knowing we can do things on our own we will not be so dependent on the Federal government to help us get what we need. This is a profound change of direction from where we have been going, but together we can, and will accomplish this goal. Yes, we can. Yes we will.
(Restoring Order Through Faith, Family, and Hard Work)
Encouraging, and promoting a healthy safe environment in which students can learn, participate, and take pride. In 2004 I was honored to serve on the Jackson Public Schools Strategic Planning team. I learned students are capable of performing to the level of expectations set forth by parents, teachers, and administrators. We have to be careful not to fall into the trap of systematically, and unintentionally having low expectations. We must insist on a culture of academic success, excellence, and accomplishment.. As Mayor I will reach out and form new partnerships with public, and private school administrators. Also create new relationships connecting the school districts with organizations such as Dads Of Great Students (D.O.G.S.)
Also PTA, and other pro-education organizations. As Mayor I would spearhead a program sponsored by CellularSouth called GAMEPLAN. It is a program that is designed to help student-athletes qualify for NCAA scholarships, but it could also benefit students who are not athletes if they follow the same plan. I believe school districts should have a solid relationship with the GAMEPLAN program, and from the Mayor's office I will help develop the partnership that would be helpful to everyone involved.
As Mayor I will develop a youth summer jobs program. One that works closely with the school districts. My administration will develop guidelines, criteria and requirements which would include, but not be limited to a student's attendance, performance in class, character, and overall behavior. It would give students something to work toward during the school year. School administrators will play a major role in the Mayors Summer Youth Job Initiative by making recommendations, and helping to oversee the program. Having a job with the City of Jackson will quickly become of privilege, not a right, and it would become something a student work to achieve, not something simply given to them. Also my administration will encourage, and promote partnerships between public, and private schools. Also encourage students to consider public service as a career.
Disabled Citizens Initiative:
This is not a new issue with me. I addressed disabled citizens during my 2005 campaign. I believe it to be very important the voices of disabled citizens be heard in City government. In a city with so few sidewalks, or accommodations for the disabled it is important to me that the disabled have safe access to our city, and it's services. As Mayor I will appoint, and work with a coordinator of Americans with Disabilities to make sure we are sensitive to, and comply with Federal laws, and guidelines. Also I will work with the appointed coordinator to improve services for the disabled including safe, and more reliable access to public transportation.
Healthy Jackson Initiative:
As a voting member of the Mississippi Baptist Health System Board of Directors. Health care is a very important issue for me. The healthcare industry along with education, and Nissan are three key economic engines driving the Metro area financial boom. As Mayor of Jackson I will spearhead new relationships with the healthcare industry. I will do this by becoming directly, and in some case personally involved in promoting a healthy Jackson. I have personal interest in prostate, and breast cancer issues. I will participate in healthy lifestyle events such as blood drives, health screenings, walk-a-thons, marathons, and 5K races. I want to raise awareness about obesity, especially among children, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health problems. As Mayor I will be involved in promoting more sporting, and physical fitness events in our city, which will improve not only the quality of our lives in Jackson, but also enhance our city's image. (Restoring Order Through Faith, Family, and Hard Work.)
There is no magic formula for improving this area of our lives. No magic wand to wave, to create a harmonious blending of the races, but we need to try harder to understand each other and different points of view. I would like to set a tone from the Mayors office that raises the level of understanding, cooperation, unity, and trust. There are several existing organizations in the Metro area that have worked very hard for many years to improve the racial climate in Mississippi. My administration will be a very good friend to those organizations. When I get elected, organizers of Mission Mississippi, Transformation Jackson, and Jackson 2000 will have not only a friend, but an ally in the Mayors office. I look forward to helping them coordinate their efforts, and compliment, each other. Together we will be a stronger, and better city.
(Restoring Order Through Faith, Family, and Hard Work.)
To The Voters, and Supporters:
When I came to Jackson In August of 1985 it was a vibrant Capital City of over 200,000 citizens. In fewer than 25 years we have lost nearly one thousand people a year. I want to change that pattern, and create an environment where people will move back to the City of Jackson. Feel proud, and safe about doing so. I want people to move back and become a part of the growth of a fast growing progressive city which eventually will be second to none. A Capital City that we can all be proud to live, work, and raise our families. I will send a message that Jackson is alive, safe, and open for business both large, and small. As Mayor I will honor, encourage, and respect your dreams to be successful. Whether it's opening a large business complex downtown, or a hotdog stand in south Jackson. As Mayor, I will be on your side. Your hopes, and dreams are a part of our re-urbanization. We must not let a small percentage of career criminals define who we are. We will work every day to address the crime problem that we all know exists. Some of those efforts you will see, some you will not, but I assure you when I am elected Mayor we will work to reduce crime every day. It will be an ongoing priority. Am I qualified to pull this city together, and lead it into the future? ABSOLUTELY QUALIFIED. I bring to the table a life time of experience of integrity, dignity, honesty, maturity, and the ability to bring people together by making non- ego driven decisions, and being fair to everyone. Will there be a learning curve? I am sure there will be, because I can't think of any previous life experience that can adequately prepare anyone for the challenges that will face the next Mayor of our city. However, I do know that we are at a cross roads. This next election will be the most important in the history of this city. That is why it is so important that we get it right. I believe I am the right person at the right time to move the city in the right direction. Calm the chaos, restore order though faith, family, and hard work. I hope you feel the same. I ask you for your prayers, support, and vote come June 2, 2009
Independent Candidate for Mayor City Of Jackson
The First 100 Days:
1. Raise Standards-Requirements for Jackson Police Officers
2. Develop-Review promotional structure for JPD-JFD
3. Legislative Agenda that includes Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (P.I.L.O.T) Program
4. Review-Restore lobbyist position in Washington D.C.
5. Restore Grant Writing Division.
6. Education Initiative- GamePlan- Dads Of Great Students (D.O.G.S.)
7. Jump Start Flood Control Plan Talks Levee-Two Lakes Plans
8. Healthy Jackson Initiative-Develop new relationships with healthcare industry.
9. Develop Plans to collect fees, and fines owed to the City of Jackson
10. Review Code Enforcement policies, and procedures. Become more business friendly.
Seems like a good, well-reasoned platform, but I don't see Whitlow being a strong candidate. That said, there's still a lot of time between now and the election to evaluate each candidate's platform, so each candidate (except Melton) has a fair shot of getting my vote.
- golden eagle
Golden Eagle, Rick Whitlow maybe isn't the strongest candidate in terms of already being a front runner or holding a front runner position but he is a strong candidate in some other ways.
He's an intelligent, photogenic-charismatic person with great leadership qualities and high name recognition. His platform is worth taking seriously. I think he really cares about Jackson; he's a pretty good guy,and he has a lot less political baggage than some others.
Who ever heard of Obama a year or two ago? Not me. Now he's president. It's a little early to rule out someone as being not a strong candidate. I agree with you...I want to hear more of what Whitlow, and the others, have to say and not just anoint someone because they are perceived to be a stronger front runner or already have it won in some people's minds.
I don't doubt Whitlow's ability of being a good mayor, but the question now is will he put in some serious effort to make himself a contender in the race. You can have a platform to bring about world peace, but if you don't advertise that, people wouldn't know. I also wonder, though, if Whitlow will suffer from Meltonitis. We all know what happened when Jackson last elected a TV talking head to the mayor's office.
- golden eagle
I don't own a television, I have better ways to waste my free time, so I won't defend tv talking heads. But in all fairness to tv talking heads everywhere...Melton is a ...ahem...unique individual. His personal pecadillos probably didn't spontaneously arise because of his media career. I would guess his influential experiences came much earlier. It's unfair to stereotype everyone who has been in the media or to paint everyone with the same bush based on what they do for a living - except, of course, lawyers, realtors, undertakers, landlords, politicians, used car salesman, bankers, etc.
In any event, this will be an exciting year for the "J". Alot of good open dialogue, good ideas and it is a good time to be on this blog. Oddly enough Hard Travel....I have never owned a TV either. Never missed it. I still don't miss a beat.