by Ron Williams
Last week I reported on the Lowndes Republican Executive Committee meeting held at the upstairs courthouse to certify Republican candidates for public office in the upcoming election. I quoted District Constable candidate Wayne Crowson as saying, during his comments, “I ran 4 years ago and was not successful and I might not make it this time.” I used an audio recorder and that’s what it sounded like he said, but wasn’t. Crowson called to say that what he said was, “I ran 4 years ago and wasn’t suceessful but I hope to do better this time.” (which makes much more sense. RW) .
My apologies to Crowson. Wayne is a fine guy and I appreciate the fact that he wasn’t angry at the misquote. He just wanted to get it straight.
The Redistricting public hearing held at the Lowndes County Courthouse, Monday morning, wasn’t for those who can’t stomach some rough and tumble war of the words! Angry residents and voters showed up to, for the most part, to give support to District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks and his opposition to the board adopted redistricting plan that would reduce the black voting age population in his district by a couple of percentage points. They also voiced their displeasure in the timing of the hearing (11 a.m. and during regular work hours for most people) as well as the meeting place (the downstairs courtroom at the Lowndes County courthouse, though it was much larger than the supervisor boardroom that is now under renovation and being enlarged. RW). Several pointed out that the Trotter Convention Center or a school gymnasium would have been better.
Many good points came from concerned citizens and voters at the meeting. At the same time media coverage, afterwards, has spurred some inaccuracies and misconceptions as well. One being…I listened to Kabir Karriem’s midday radio program on WTWG AM (1050 AM, weekdays at 12 noon -RW). A caller to the Wednesday program stated she had attended the meeting and couldn’t believe that the adopted redistricting plan had been altered to include District 5 supervisor candidate Roger Larsen. The caller made it sound like the action was done just to include Larsen (who is white) so a white candidate could run against incumbent Leroy Brooks. As I listened, I waited on Karriem to correct her…but he never did. Surely the Ward 5 Councilman knows that Roger Larsen was accidently redistricted out of the district after he had already signed up to run as a candidate. Care was supposed to be taken, in the original redistricting map plans of redrawing lines, to not exclude a candidate already signed up to run for any office. But Chris Watson (of Bridge & Watson, the firm hired by the board to redraw district lines) and Circuit Clerk Haley Salazar had accidently redistricted Larsen out of the district. After the error was discovered (you can’t redistrict an already signed up candidate), alternate plans were made to move the district by one block to get Larsen back in. In fairness to Leroy Brooks, he never had a problem with them putting Larsen back in, only to the overall black voter dilusion of the district.
Also during the radio program, a couple of references were made to Election Commissioner Leon Speck, who is also white. The caller made reference to Speck, who was the only white from the crowd to speak at the hearing. Speck was trying to make a point, in frustration of low voter turn-out, when he made the mistake of saying, “how many of you people actually go out and vote?” By saying “you people”, he angered many in the predominantly black crowd. (I’ve known Mr. Speck for a long time. He was likely on the side of most of the people in the room, though the “you people” slip-up doomed his message. He probably didn’t even realize he had accidently made a racial slur but not meaning too. He likely did, though, after he said it. He was shouted down by many in the crowd and in frustration, turned and walked out of the meeting. Many in the crowd laughed as he left. RW).
One other misconception from a caller to the show (and, again, I waited on Karriem to correct…and, again, he didn’t. RW) was that Larsen’s candidacy against Brooks, along with another District 5 candidate – the Reverand Kenneth McFarland – would split the black vote in the election. But Larsen signed up as an independent. He won’t be on the ballot until the November general election. Incumbent Brooks and challenger Kenneth McFarland are both Democrats and will first meet in the Democratic Primary on August 2nd. The winner of that primary will go on to meet Larsen in November. One could deduce that if all black registered voters in District 5 voted for Brooks in November (or McFarland, whomever the winner of the primary happens to be) and all whites voted for Larsen…Brooks would win. Larsen has already stated that he intends to both solicit and receive some black vote in November. And, in turn, Brooks has always received some white votes as well. I’m sure if the primary winner was McFarland, he would as well. So, to assume all black voters will vote for Brooks (or McFarland) in November and all whites would vote for Larsen is not practical or true. This actually applies to other races in the county as well. Historically speaking, blacks tend to vote for Democrats (black or white candidates), though – and Leroy Brooks correctly pointed this out during the redistricting hearing – whites tend to vote for Democrats and Republicans, but usually only white candidates…and that’s speaking in historical terms. It’s not speculation…it’s a historical fact (there are a few exceptions to that, but very few). A perfect example of blacks voting for white candidates is in the justice court race. District 3 Justice Court Judge Peggy Phillips has consistently beat black candidates who have ran against her over the years – and in a near-80% majority black district. Judge Phillips has always had a great relationship with the black community and they have always trusted her. Her consistency has even bewildered the Justice Department on occasion. Grilling On The River Will Have Big-Time State Candidates
Harvey Myrick’s Grilling On The River will take place this weekend on the Rubens side of the Riverwalk area. Some of the many statewide office candidates will be there Saturday including Gubernatorial candidate Bill Luckett. Delbert Hoseman, Tate Reeves and other state candidates will be there as well. Ron Williams can be reached by email at Ronsings2you@aol.com