Monday, May 18, 2009

Voting For Mayor

Like most of the people I have spoken or corresponded with on the issue, I have had a difficult time deciding how to cast my vote for Mayor of Jackson. I do not see either of the Democratic candidates as a disaster; nor do I see either one as a savior.

The two men have far more in common than their partisans will admit. The JFP's excellent analysis of the two candidates is worth your time; the Clarion-Ledger's Sunday piece is also helpful.

I detest the caricatures that have been cast like stones in this campaign (and plastered on my car): Marshand Crisler as the tool of business interests, who will favor the white community, and Harvey Johnson as overly race-conscious, who will favor the African-American community.

In my opinion, both men are Democrats in the national sense of the word -- they plan to govern as liberals (meaning they believe in the power of government to lead problem-solving in the community) but from a pro-economic development, pro-law enforcement perspective.

I previously posted my basic thoughts about the Johnson/Crisler runoff; I will not repeat myself here. I will simply state the two central reasons why my vote in the run-off is for Marshand Crisler (Of course, I don't speak for Matt or any other resident or visitor in my World).

First, Councilman Crisler seems more willing than Mayor Johnson to approach law enforcement from a consolidated, county/city model. He may not re-appoint Sheriff McMillin as police chief, but he will certainly require the JPD to work with the Hinds County Sheriff's Office to minimize turf conflict and duplicative efforts and secure the most efficient, effective crime prevention program for the City. Given Robert Johnson's endorsement, one wonders if the former Chief might be re-appointed to that post in a Crisler Administration; that would be a welcome move.

Second, Crisler is more likely to maintain the momentum for business and economic development in the City. Harvey Johnson can rightly take credit for the Convention Center complex. But government projects can only initiate economic development; to complete the job, the private sector must be engaged and motivated. That's the secret of every national Democrat's success, from Wilson through FDR, JFK, LBJ, and Clinton, and it's the model of the Obama Administration (Geithner-haters notwithstanding).

The small number of non-residential permits granted during the Johnson Administration, as compared to the Melton term (an eight-fold increase), is an objective indicator of Mr. Johnson's lack of appreciation of the role of the business community in building Jackson. And it's clear that the business community returns the favor.

One other point: some have said that Crisler will be "Frank, the Sequel." The question whether Deputy Crisler's "took a bullet" encounter actually happened during an invalid house raid is fodder for those concerns. See the posts on Jackson Jambalaya, which first brought these issues to light. But it's worth noting that Crisler was 25 years old then, a relatively new deputy, and unlike others in his unit, was not charged with wrongdoing at the time.

And unlike the late Mayor, Marshand Crisler has experience in local government, both as a Councilman and in the Sheriff's Office. Frank Melton, all too often, thought running government was like running a medium-sized business -- the top gun gives the orders and watches as the squad obeys. Crisler has been overseeing city government for eight years and knows better than that.

My vote is for Marshand Crisler. I hope he prevails in the runoff and in the general election. But I won't be upset if Harvey Johnson is the victor instead. Even if this is the "As Good As It Gets" election, Jackson will take great strides forward under either Democrat.


Anonymous said...

Of course you are voting for Crisler. You gave him money. Too bad you didn't disclose that voluntarily.

Jim Craig said...

That's just silly. I "didn't disclose that voluntarily"? How does that compromise what I said? First, it doesn't follow. I contributed to four different Democratic presidential candates because I thought they all had messages that needed to be heard. But I only voted for one in the primary.

Second, I am not a newspaper or television station. I have no obligation to be neutral.

Third, you seem to have it backwards: if I received money from a candidate, that might be an issue; but giving money to a candidate only shows I put my money where my mouth is.

And unlike you, gentle reader, I put my name behind what I say.

Matt Eichelberger said...

Anonymous, your approach regarding openness in campaign financing would ring a touch more true if you'd run your candidate down for not filing his campaign finance report until the day before the election.