Johnson supporter defends the mayor
Letter to Editor in Northside Sun – 3/24/5
Your column “Northside faces some complex issues” (March 10, 2005) handicapping the Jackson mayor’s race indicates that you have thrown your editorial weight behind Frank Melton, but you provided no compelling case for
doing so. Your characterization of Mr. Melton as a “selfmade man” is a stretch, since he got where he was by working for Buford Television (now Buford Media Group) after it procured WLBTTV3. For those of your readers who do not know,
ownership of WLBT was one of the hardestfought battles in the Civil Rights movement.
Unfortunately, in 2000 Mr. Melton caused the sale of this once community-owned station to a large out-of-state media company. Your comment that Mr. Melton was a fixture on Jackson TV for many years overlooks the fact
that during much of the time he was giving us “The Bottom Line” about Jackson politics, he was registered to vote in Texas, and did not register to vote here until 2003, shortly after he went to work for the State of Mississippi. (He has been working here since 1984.)
Your worst recommendation for Mr. Melton seems to be that he is running as a Democrat out of convenience, not commitment. You wrote: “Melton, who is savvy if nothing else, realized running for mayor as a Republican was a dead
end.” You note that the most visible leader of the Republican Old Guard, Billy Mounger, has thrown his political principles out the window to vote in the Democratic primary. I question the propriety of this. Why would the Billy Moungers of the world, who openly despise the leaders of the Democratic Party, make this choice if they did not have something to gain? Why are they
not standing behind Rick Whitlow, a Republican, instead?
This is the first time in my reading your newspaper that you have advocated voting for a “loose cannon” because, as you say, “we need loose cannons to get anything done.” Be careful for what you wish for? Do you really want a
mayor who, on a whim, might ignore the rules of law (remember Melton’s roadblock on West Street)?
You criticize the Johnson administration for budget increases, but you don’t identify waste. Perhaps if you looked at the budget more carefully, you would see that the increases went to hire more police officers in response to the
Linder-Maple Study, and to make those improvements to the water and sewer systems that were deferred by previous administrations and are now mandated by the federal government.
Are you supporting Mr. Melton because, as you point out, Mayor Johnson does not “come by” the newsroom or call you without you first calling him as a previous mayor did? Perhaps Mayor Johnson takes the First Amendment’s guarantee of Freedom of the Press at its word, which is to not have the government interfere with the press. An elected official should not call
on the Fourth Estate in order to, as you implied, “win friends and influence people.” And the media shouldn’t be that friendly or that easily influenced.
I am baffled by your assertion that Mr. Melton is some kind of “Prince Charming all ready to? tell the girls (which I take to mean those whom you characterized as ?whiny Republicans’ earlier in your column) what they want to hear.”
Is there something that Mr. Melton has told you that you need to share with the public? Did he tell you that he is really a Republican who is running as a Democrat? Did he tell you that the Republican establishment would in fact run City Hall during his desired term in office?
In conclusion, I simply cannot figure out why the Republican Old Guard in Northeast Jackson wants to support Melton – someone they know little about – a one-issue candidate, who has been untested in any elected leadership position, knows nothing about the complexities of municipal government, and has been branded a controversial figure. You wrote that Johnson is “stable,
conservative and steady” ? sounds like a plus to me. Their problem with Mayor Johnson cannot be about the quality of municipal services,
because they have improved. It cannot be about residential home values in Ward One, because they have skyrocketed over the past 10 years.
The best I can tell is that you and the people you claim to write for cannot get over the fact that Harvey Johnson Jr. is a mainstream lifelong Democrat, a successful, nationally recognized and respected two-term mayor, whose largest share of votes has come and will come from the Black community and progressive-minded Whites ? of both parties, I might add. Mayor Johnson has moved this city into the 21st Century with dignity, grace, good planning, and respect for all its citizens. He has served it with energy, savvy, and without complaint. He keeps his promises. And we would do well to reelect him.