The Daily Takedown:: Lumumba and Yarber Race Toward Run-Off


The votes have been counted and the people have spoken! Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Tony Yarber have emerged as the frontrunners in a virtual deadheat (Lumumba leads by a mere 10 votes). So what does this mean for Jackson? Our powerhouse political roundtable weighs in!

Roderick R. – This election was one for the ages. I must say I was thoroughly impressed with the crop of candidates and even more impressed by the city embracing such talented and youthful potential leadership. There wasn’t much mystery about who the top 3 candidates would be, but the top 2 was anybody’s game.

TCL tony yarber 01.jpg

Photo Credit: Clarion Ledger

All of the candidates received high profile endorsements from politicians and media outlets and even one celebrity, but only two could could move on. I was surprised to see Yarber emerge past Priester in the 3-man race. Tony Yarber is a respectable candidate with a history of working in municipal government and strong community ties, but I preferred Priester and his campaign to help the city embrace technology. I also liked his emphasis on working with young professionals and entrepreneurs.

Chokwe Antar wasn’t even in question as a front runner and Jackson really can’t go wrong if they elect him. He matches his late father’s passion, has all the same connections, and brings a youthful yet surprisingly wise and poised demeanor. All of his positive qualities overshadow his youth and inexperience.

I thought Amber made an excellent point the other day on twitter when she made the statement, “I wish there was a way we could mix Lumumba and Priester into some kind of super mayor.” But I still think you can’t go wrong with who’s left in Lumumba and Yarber. No matter who wins, Jackson wins.

Amber T. – The touted top 3 were hard to miss in the special election for the mayoral race in the city of Jackson. The harsh reality was that only two

Chokwe Antar Lumumba

Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Photo Credit: Erick H. Muhammad

candidates could advance into a run-off on April 22. This special election season was extremely unique and farely “incestuous” (for lack of a better term). Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Melvin Priester, Jr. split the pot in that they have lots of the same general supporters. Chokwe Antar’s father, late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba started as councilman of Ward 2. He ran for Mayor, and Priester was elected councilman of Ward 2.

Tony Yarber, on the other hand, has had a gradual emergence from the educational and faith based community. Yarber also garnered financial support from entities who have supported other well known candidates in the past. Harvey Johnson, Regina Quinn and John Horhn, the other well known candidates, didn’t fair very well, but ran respectable races. And I’ll say it, because you were thinking it- If Lumumba and Priester had worked out an agreement of some sort, Yarber would’ve had a much tougher time getting to the second round. There are other peculiarities, but I digress.

I will say that it was amazing to see that our top 3 candidates were all under the age of 40. I think it’s a wake up call for our city in that the next generation understands our place in leadership. We’re ready to be the sentinels over our communities. Neither of the candidates hastily jumped into the race, despite the preceding tragedy. All of them have a community track record worthy of admiration. Any of the “twenty-somethings” thinking about leadership in our city, or anywhere else for that matter, better step up their game. These gentlemen have set a high bar.

I do think that Jackson’s first female mayor isn’t too far off in the distance. Regina Quinn, Margaret Barrett-Simon and Gwendolyn Ward Osborne Chapman didn’t quite have the “something” Jacksonians were looking for, but thank you for “wearing them down” ladies. We will definitely get a woman in there!

I earnestly hope that Lumumba and Yarber take a cue from Priester- new technology is the way to propel this city to higher heights! Roll that into your plan and holler at Priester for consultation if foolish pride doesn’t hinder you.

Now, let’s watch the hunger game of endorsements take place. It’s going to be very interesting to see the alliances between the previous candidates and the current candidates. Who will Priester, Barrett-Simon, Horhn, Johnson and Quinn endorse, f they endorse anyone at all? I have my speculations. Pay attention to the money.

Spencer B. -So the Jackson mayor’s race comes down to Tony Yarber vs. Chokwe Antar Lumumba.

About 35,000 people voted on Tuesday, out of about 140,000 registered voters in the city. Assuming that some of those “registrations” are for people who no longer live here or are deceased, that’s still a pretty sad percentage, y’all. 

Wow, what a close election! The margin of victory doesn’t mean anything officially since we’re going to a runoff, but as I’m writing this, the news outlets are saying Lumumba won by 10 votes. No idea what the percentages would look like if more of the city had voted, but you have to wonder.

Interestingly, both remaining candidates are part of the younger crowd, as opposed to the older, more experienced Barrett-Simon, Johnson, and Horhn. The question now becomes: do their votes go to Lumumba, or to Yarber?

One of the biggest stories of this race has to be the continued rise of Melvin Priester, Jr. You could even call it meteoric. Although he is not going forward in this race, I think Priester demonstrated to the entire city that he has an extremely capable head on his shoulders, and given a little political seasoning, he could be very well positioned in the future for whatever he wishes to accomplish.

Tony Yarber is not a closet conservative or Tea Partier, y’all. He’s just not.

Finally, this has to be one of the only times that Kenneth Stokes is on the same side of something as the Jackson Free Press, right? They both endorsed Lumumba. I’m definitely interested to see how this race turns out. I think I know who I’m supporting, but I’m looking forward to the next debate between the two candidates.


Amber: If your candidate didn’t win, don’t tuck your tail and drop your head. Figure out how you’re going to do all you can to serve this city. Encourage your candidate not to give up on Jackson. Our City deserves our best. Will it be a beautiful story of a completed legacy where a strong son carries the family name into victory and a city to success? Or will it be the tale of a young man from a close-knit ‘hood making his way to the top while steering the city toward success? You decide.

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