The Clarion-Ledger, 3/11/9

Jackson mayoral hopefuls tried to stand out from the large crowd of candidates Tuesday night by explaining their visions for the city.

During a two-hour event at Millsaps College, nine of the 18 mayoral candidates talked about a wide range of issues, from crime to economic development to their personal weight-loss goals.

The panel discussion was the first since the sprawling pool of candidates was finalized last week. The list of 12 Democrats, two Republicans and four independents includes a current and former mayor, a city councilman, a state senator, a tax collector and a former police chief. Mayor Frank Melton, who is seeking a second term, was not present.

Many in the crowd of more than 120 said they attended the event to try to sort out which candidate they like best.

“I think mostly I am wanting to see how they’re different, what different ideas they have,” said Philip Taff, a Jackson resident. “I haven’t heard much. It’s still early.”

All of the candidates said improving Jackson’s deteriorating roads would be a top priority if elected.