Melton’s competition for mayor?

Trying to describe the person who may become the next mayor of Jackson one year from now is like trying to catch the wind with flypaper.

At least a dozen people are considering running or being urged to run against incumbent Mayor Frank Melton, who has made it known that he’ll be a candidate for re-election.

The large number of possible future mayoral candidates may reflect Melton’s vulnerability, said Steve Rozman, a political science professor at Tougaloo College.

“I believe he’ll have a difficult time getting re-elected.”

Among those who may try to unseat him is Harvey Johnson Jr., the former two-term mayor whom Melton defeated in the Democratic primary in 2005.

Almost there, too, is Rick Whitlow, a former TV anchor who ran as a Republican against Melton before taking a job, briefly, on the Democratic mayor’s executive staff.

If that’s a reference to Melton’s high-profile, crime-fighting tactics, including pounding an alleged drug house with a sledgehammer, it’s not lost on City Council President Leslie Burl McLemore. Asked if he has a notion to run himself, McLemore, a Democrat, said, “I’ve been approached by more than five people asking me to. It’s not like I’ve been inundated by a multitude. But I am considering it.”

And that was as far as another possible mayor-in-waiting would go: “I haven’t made a final decision,” said state Sen. John Horhn, a Democrat. “That’s all I can say about it at this time.”

Supporters of Robert Gibbs will get a ruling that’s a bit more definitive: “I’m not looking to run,” said the Jackson lawyer and former Hinds County circuit judge. “That’s not where my future is, I believe.”

With the right backing, businessman Wydette Hawkins could believe City Hall is where his future lies.

Another notable name on the lips of observers is Eddie Fair, Hinds County tax collector.

Marshand Crisler, a Democrat and another councilman, said he’s been coaxed by “numerous respected members of the community to run.

[Charlotte] Reeves is one of only a couple of white residents mentioned as possible challengers in the mayor’s race. [Kenneth] Stokes mentioned another: “You cannot count out the sheriff [Malcom McMillin]. He has crossover appeal, black and white.”

[McMillin said,]”I really find it amusing. I live in Clinton. I don’t think they’d let me serve while I was living out there. …

“I like what I’m doing now. I don’t know if I would like (serving as mayor). I don’t necessarily want to run for anything else.”

Jabari Toins does. He took an unsuccessful shot at the secretary of state’s job last fall and is now gunning for City Hall.

Clarion Ledger
5/18/8