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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Jackson to Have Six Mayoral Candidates on June 2

UPDATE: The Clarion-Ledger ran a shorter version of this post as a letter to the editor in its March 18 edition.

FURTHER UPDATE - 3/22/09: One of the two Republican candidates for mayor has failed to qualify, so George Lambus will be the GOP nominee on June 2. This means that (1) Ward 1 voters (in northeast Jackson) will be the only ones who have to choose between voting for mayor or council member on May 5, and (2) anyone in Ward 1 who votes in the May 5 Republican primary will be prohibited from voting in the likely May 19 Democratic runoff for mayor.


On June 2, it will be possible for the next mayor of Jackson to be elected with less than 17 percent of the vote. The six candidates will include the Democratic nominee, the Republican nominee, and the four independents.

In 1997, several black independents qualified, but after Harvey Johnson Jr. defeated Mayor Kane Ditto in the Democratic primary, those independents dropped out.

Notably, two of this year's independent candidates are past Republican mayoral nominees-- Charlotte Reeves in 1997 and Rick Whitlow in 2005. Reeves also ran in the 2001 Republican primary, which she lost to then-Councilman C. Daryl Neely, who went on to lose the general election to Democratic incumbent Johnson.

To my knowledge, Reeves is the only white candidate in this year's mayoral race, which is not surprising for a city that is some 80 percent black.

Anyone in Ward 1 who votes in the May 5 Democratic primary for mayor will forgo voting for council member, since both of those candidates are in the Republican primary. Conversely, anyone in Wards 2, 3, 4, or 5 who votes in the Republican primary for mayor will also miss out on voting for council member, since all of those candidates are in the Democratic primary. And anyone voting in the May 5 Republican primary will be ineligible to vote in the almost-certain May 19 Democratic runoff for mayor.

Suppose we changed to the system now used by the big majority of U. S. municipalities: nonpartisan elections, popularly called "open primaries." All candidates, including independents, run in the same election. If no one gets 50-plus percent, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, meet in a runoff. This would mean that (1) all voters would be able to choose among all the candidates for mayor and their council member, (2) there would never be more than two rounds of voting, (3) everyone would be eligible to vote in both rounds and (4) no candidate would ever again be elected with less than 50 percent of the vote.


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