Fresh with a true mandate – 88 percent – Democrat Frank Melton takes office as Jackson mayor on July 4 with plenty of momentum, but a lot of problems facing the city.
Melton recognizes the city has been in the leadership doldrums. His premier issue has been crime-fighting, and he brings new tools, including years as a volunteer mentoring youth, service on the state Board of Education, and a stint as head of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.
Nor is it lost on Melton that crime is inextricably linked with other issues, including the perception and reality of crime problems fueling flight from the city to the suburbs, reluctance of investors to build in Jackson, and the very sense of vibrancy and bustle downtown needs.
As his campaign showed, Melton sees the connection between run-down neighborhoods and crime, and the need to raze old buildings, enforce codes, offer incentives for residential development and restore old neighborhoods.
The biggest plus going into his administration is public confidence, that City Hall will change, that the city – and police – will be responsive to citizens, that efficiency and fast action will replace lethargy and business as usual.
These are all powerful forces propelling a new face and new way of doing business into Jackson government.
But, Melton also must work on breaking down old barriers. Melton must forge a new relationship with county government to coordinate city and county services, particularly the criminal justice system, and infrastructure needs. He must hold the line on taxes. And he must sustain the revitalization changes under way, enlisting a new Council.
In short, Melton has much going for him going into office.
He will need all the help he can get to truly effect change.
Clarion Ledger Editorial