Leaders Leave Jackson for Big Ideas | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Leaders Leave Jackson for Big Ideas

De’Keither Stamps and several of his colleagues on the Jackson City Council traveled to Seattle, Wash., to attend a National League of Cities conference, where they collected a bevy of ideas to bring back home.

De’Keither Stamps and several of his colleagues on the Jackson City Council traveled to Seattle, Wash., to attend a National League of Cities conference, where they collected a bevy of ideas to bring back home. Photo by Trip Burns.

Sitting in his office on the second floor of City Hall Tuesday, Nov. 26, Ward 4 City Councilman De'Keither Stamps beamed as he went over a list of 12 new ordinances he plans to introduce in the coming weeks.

One would set up a municipal identification-card program, where citizens who don't have a driver's license or identification card could go get a photo I.D. without having to go to the DMV. Another would add teeth to the city's racial-profiling ordinance, and another would change the way developers hire contractors on city-subsidized projects, providing more jobs for folks that live inside city limits.

Those are just three of a dozen ideas Stamps plan to pursue after he and other council members attended the National League of Cities' Congress of Cities and Exposition conference in Seattle, Wash., from Nov. 12-16.

Council members Stamps, Tony Yarber, Margaret Barrett-Simon, Melvin Priester Jr. and LaRita Cooper-Stokes all attended a variety of seminars and training sessions at the conference. Those sessions focused on seven main areas: economic development, finance, governance and civic engagement, housing and community development, immigrant integration, infrastructure and sustainability.

The annual convention hosted more than 3,000 mayors, city council members and local leaders, according to the National League of Cities web site.

As a first-year civil servant, Stamps said he was "like a kid in a candy store."

"I came back with a bunch of good new ideas," Stamps said. "There were thousands of people from cities of all sizes. It gave me a chance to talk to people from other cities, so I talked to leaders who had problems similar to some of the ones we face, and I got a chance to ask them what they did that worked and what they did that didn't work."

In the coming weeks, some of those ideas could become law inside the city.

Stamps said he has already moved on one idea, introducing an ordinance that would require gun-owners to report their firearms stolen within 48 hours of the discovery of the theft.

Other plans, like a community reinvestment ordinance that would require banks that hold public funds to reinvest some of those funds in the form of loans, will require more research before they can be proposed.

"It just gave us a lot to think about," Stamps said. "There were basic sessions, and there were more in-depth seminars for different groups, like the black caucus, the Hispanic caucus, so there are different solutions for different cities with different demographics. It was great."

Barrett-Simon, who has served as councilwoman for Ward 7 for 20 years, has also served on NLC's board of directors, its advisory council and as president of Women in Municipal Government, a NLC-funded organization.

"We were one of the first to promote family leasing and earned income tax credits," Simon said. "And that was back when hardly any women were taking advantage of those programs."

"There is nothing that teaches you how to do this job that we have," Barrett-Simon said. "The National League of Cities educates elected officials, and it's just an amazing organization. People who aren't connected at that level are really missing out."

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