JACKSON, Miss. – Jackson’s infrastructure issues aren’t the result of one mayor or one administration. The fight to fix pipes and potholes in the city will be up to the next mayor.
WJTV reached out to all declared candidates to give them an opportunity to talk about their platform. Four of those candidates took the chance to make their pitch.
When it comes to repairing potholes and water main breaks in Jackson, candidate Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Jason Wells, Senator John Horhn and incumbent Mayor Tony Yarber have similar plans.
“What is currently not taking place and what needs to take place is that the one percent sales tax be leveraged properly,” says attorney Chokwe A. Lumumba. He’s making another run for mayor after losing the race nearly four years ago.
“With the one percent sales tax we’ve got to look at how we leverage that how we use that money to not only pay as we go but for look for opportunities to get grants,” explains Mayor Tony Yarber. The incumbent says he’s not finished with his work.
“I was the author of the one cent sales tax that’s going to over a 20 year period, generate almost $300 million for the city of Jackson. I passed that legislation in 2011. But it wasn’t until the spring of this year that the city of Jackson started using the money,” says Senator Horhn.
“There is also state and federal grants that we can use to get that,” adds Jason Wells, the current lone Republican in the mayoral race.
All four candidates support using the city’s one percent sales tax. It’s expected to generate $300 million over 20 years. That’s not enough to fund fixes with a price tag in the billions.
“We have a plan where we can fix these streets within five or six years through a combination of federal and state and local resources. I’ve talked to the current administration about this and it’s fallen on deaf ears,” adds Horhn.
“We’re also taking advantage of an opportunity that’s coming down the pipe real soon which is the Fast Act. It’s a federal program that helps us with transportation also helps us with infrastructure. We’ve already started making submissions for that program now,” explains Yarber.
Some candidates see the pothole problems as a way to create jobs and therefore generate revenue for the city of Jackson.
“As we repair this infrastructure we can use it as an opportunity to give jobs to Jacksonians. Then we can make certain that the revenue that’s used for the repair of our infrastructure flows through our communities a much longer period of time,” says Lumumba.
“When it comes to bringing jobs back in to the city which is bringing money into the city, we have a lot of abandoned buildings that we can use,” says Well. “I have a lot of people out here who owes the city money. So in order for them to pay off the city, they’re going to work for the city by redeveloping different businesses, redeveloping the streets.”
Candidates Robert Graham, Corinthian Sanders and Jaclyn Mask were either unavailable or couldn’t be reached for comment.