Experience: Three-term mayor of Jackson; Assistant Professor, Jackson State University
Family: Kathy (wife); Harvey III (son); and Sharla (daughter)
Photo by Trip Burns.
The JFP interviewed Harvey Johnson Jr. during his campaign to return to the mayor's office after Frank Melton.
The first African American mayor Jackson voters ever selected, Harvey Johnson Jr. likes to say that although Jackson said no to electing him twice, people said yes to his leadership three times.
This time around, the 67-year-old Johnson, who says he does a corresponding number pushups each morning, says he is not running as a change agent.
"Everybody always wants change because change is part of our everyday existence. The issue is the management of change," Johnson said.
It's his nuts-and-bolts management experience that Johnson is offering as his top asset. Aware of criticism that progress looked slow during his tenure in the office, Johnson defends his economic-development record by pointing to $660 million in building permits shepherded under his administration, the repaving of more than 200 miles worth of streets and getting the ball rolling on the redevelopment of Farish Street, the Iron Horse Grill, the new Whole Foods at Highland Plaza and Metrocenter.
However, Jackson's streets are still bad enough to remain a top campaign issue, and Farish Street is mired in court battles. Given another shot at the office, Johnson wants to finalize a convention-center hotel deal, help Jackson State University develop a stadium venue and implement the "One Lake" plan for flood reduction and development.
"I know that we can't maintain the status quo in the city of Jackson. I've never run on a status quo platform," Johnson said.
"What the voters need to decide is if they change the leadership, is that going to bring about the kind of change in the quality of life, service delivery, safety, economic development. I'm suggesting to them it does not," Johnson added.
Johnson is a Vicksburg native and attended Tennessee State University and earned a master's degree from the University of Cincinnati.
Read Johnson's 2013 JFP Interview and listen to the full audio of his endorsement interview.