In case anyone missed it, the 2005 Jackson mayor’s race between Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. and former TV executive Frank Melton got off this week with a . . . well, sort of a bang.
Melton, a former Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics chief, apparently thought he could hold a news conference in front of a crime victim’s home as a backdrop without any problem.
But the “photo-op” got uncomfortable when the candidate was confronted by the 93-year-old victim’s daughter who accused Melton of using the beating of her elderly mother for political purposes. Melton told the woman he didn’t have to contact anyone about holding news conferences, saying: “I’m going to do what I have to do. I don’t give a damn about what anybody has to say.”
It would appear the campaign has begun.
Melton is known for being outspoken and having strong views. Johnson is known for being deliberative and studious. Should make for an interesting contest.
But it’s obvious that the premier issue of the campaign is crime. Melton will seek to create a perception that he’s the one to solve it while the Johnson administration has already gone on record as seeing the perception of crime as an issue in itself. Between the “perceptions,” though, fighting crime is the No. 1 issue in Jackson.
Melton did apologize to the woman and said his focus was on conditions that foster crime, such as dilapidated buildings. Johnson has also focused on cleaning them up. Theatrics aside, the point is well taken, even if it seems lost on Police Chief Robert Moore, who commented later that “an abandoned house has never killed anyone.”
Voters are looking for crime solutions. The candidate who presents them will be the next mayor.