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‘It’s been brewing for a while’ | Jackson residents, council president discuss fallout from recent unfounded claims by mayor, councilman

Special council meeting set for next week to approve paying city’s bills
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 8:35 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - While explosive and unfounded claims between a mayor and councilman may still be the topic of conversation between many Jacksonians -- with comedian Rita Brent offering a take on the squabble -- Council President Virgi Lindsay said she wants to see both sides come together so the city can move forward.

“I think it’s been brewing for a while,” Lindsay said. “We have a council and a mayor that for all kinds of reasons, is not working together. And that is always bad for our citizens.”

Lindsay said this week’s situation has been most damaging, after Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba told reporters about bribery among his colleagues.

“I believe certain members of our council have accepted bribes and are steering a contract,” Lumumba said, referring to the ongoing garbage contract debacle.

Lumumba and members of his staff had intimated in recent months that some on the city council had a “cozy relationship” with Waste Management, the city’s current emergency provider of garbage collection services.

Lumumba’s statements that day also implied Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote and Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes could have been among them.

Hours after the mayor’s unfounded claim, Stokes responded with a baseless accusation of his own.

“I think the mayor’s smoking too much dope,” Stokes said.

The next day, Stokes announced at a regular council meeting he was asking U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca to investigate Lumumba’s claims of bribery, and Lindsay told members of the council she would not allow any conversation about that while they handled business.

While colleagues got through the meeting without lobbing insults at each other, the damage had already been done.

One of the biggest casualties: four council members voted down claims, meaning the city won’t be paying its bills until that’s approved, including nearly $14 million to Jackson Public School, utility payments to Entergy and other expenditures.

“There have been harsh words said and some very damaging things said. I think was quite a questionable behavior by a mayor and certainly borders on being irresponsible,” Lindsay said.

The council president and Ward 7 councilwoman did not directly address Stokes’ accusations.

Jackson residents say they think apologies are in order to move forward.

“I just pray that they come together and just, you know, apologize one to another because they’re, they’re both adults. So we could put all the rest of that stuff to the side and just come together and do what’s gonna be best for the whole city,” said resident Kim Shinall.

“If an apology will solve all this, the mayor should be the bigger man and apologize,” Foster said.

Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks said in a statement that he believes the mayor should apologize quickly and publicly.

“I don’t disagree with that,” Lindsay said. “The citizens certainly have a reason to be concerned about how the relationship between the mayor’s office and the council has disintegrated.”

3 On Your Side reached out to Lumumba for comment on how he plans to help repair his end of this fractured relationship with the council, but he has not yet responded.

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