Jackson voters have wish list for next mayor

The candidates – through forums and community functions – have begun to explain how they plan to lead Jackson over the next four years. Party primaries are May 5, with runoffs scheduled for May 19. The general election is June 2.

“We need Jackson to come back,” said George Harmon, who has run Harmon Drug Store on Farish Street for 57 years. “Jackson is not going to come back unless we have the right people to bring it back. It’s hard to say who the right people are.”

For Tanya Scott, a partner with the development firm CEVA Green and Jackson-based consulting firm Lemont Scott Group, economic development tops her wish list.

Since 2006, Scott has been working with CEVA Green to construct an environmentally friendly building in downtown Jackson at State and Court streets. She said the project has been delayed by the sluggish economy and by the city’s aging infrastructure.

She said Jackson needs to improve its roads and update its utility lines to retain and attract developers.

“You can’t build a 12-story building utilizing infrastructure put in place 60 years ago,” Scott said. “When your city does not make improvements in infrastructure a priority, it makes economic development more challenging.”

Neighborhood associations across the city are also paying close attention to the race. Some groups, such as the Belhaven Heights Community Association, are inviting the candidates to their neighborhoods to talk with them. Belhaven Heights is hosting a forum in a neighborhood park on March 28.

For Genny Seeley, president of the Association of South Jackson Neighborhoods, a focus on neighborhood issues is a top concern. She said she wants the next mayor to put more money in the community improvement division. The division works to demolish abandoned buildings and clean up messy yards and deteriorating homes.

“If we could clean up our neighborhoods, if we made sure they were attractive and safe, we would – rather than flight out of the city – have people moving back into the city,” Seeley said.

Clarion Ledger
3/15/9