Yarber and Lumumba debate at WLBT studio

Jackson’s two mayoral candidates stepped into the WLBT studio Thursday night for a one-hour runoff debate. Attorney Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Jackson City Councilman Tony Yarber went back and forth on several issues, touting specifics and pushing their visions for the future of the Capital City.

“The only thing that I am inexperienced in is being a politician,” Lumumba said in his opening statement.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we need your help. But more than that, we need leadership, proven leadership,” Yarber answered back.

Lumumba and Yarber both gave their opinions on whether experience should play a role in deciding who to elect for the city’s mayor, but it wasn’t the only major issue discussed.

Both candidates debated strategies for the city’s infrastructure, education system, and crime problems, as well as economic prosperity.

Each also got the chance to ask the other a question.

“On page 48 of your book ‘Man Tips,’ you stated and I quote, ‘in my household, for example, my wife handles the money. I can’t tell you what’s in that checking account. I realized early on that I couldn’t handle that,'” Lumumba stated, proceeding to ask Yarber how he would be able to balance the city’s budget if he couldn’t balance his own.

“We have missed the fact that I have served on the council for five years, and in serving on that council for five years, I’ve been on that council that oversees that budget,” Yarber said. “I’ve been the budget chair. I’m currently the budget chair.”

Yarber then asked Lumumba about his desire to award minority firms 50 percent of city contracts and require that city contracts should require a majority of the work be performed by Jackson residents.

“Can you explain how you will implement that without breaking the law?” Yarber asked his opponent.

“I’ve never said that that was something I would force people to do. It’s a stated goal. And I thank you for asking a legal question, because that is my forte,” Lumumba said.

Lumumba added those requests have never been made of local firms employed by the city, and that’s what he thinks could be done differently.