Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. and challenger Frank Melton elbowed and jabbed each other on crime, jobs and leadership Sunday in their first debate, which was marred by a technical problem for television viewers.
Crime was a central issue in the hour-long forum at Murrah High School before more than 200 people.
“We’re going to continue recruiting police officers,” the mayor said when asked what he would do in the first 30 days to fight crime. “We’ve had 16 classes graduate from the Police Academy under my administration and we now have around 500 officers.”
The department totaled about 330 when Johnson took office in 1997.
Melton countered that his first move would be replacing the police chief – and it wouldn’t take 30 days.
Mayoral challenger Frank Melton points out during the debate that he lives behind two gates in a gated community.
“I plan to seek a leader who has passion and commitment to the people here in Jackson,” he said.