JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – The city of Jackson has had four public works directors in three years and will soon get a fifth.
The current vacancy – which has gone unfilled for more than two months – has Jackson’s mayor and one city councilman at odds.
When I called Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes for an interview Monday, he took me to the intersection of Bailey Avenue and Maple Street, where you can see multiple cracked telephone poles on the verge of falling down and potentially putting people without power.
Monday’s interview with Stokes wasn’t the first time the councilman has wanted to showcase an area that he claims a public works director could address.
Before that, it was a pile of tires in front of a burned-out property in West Jackson.
And before that, it was a road hazard as well as a lack of working streetlights at the intersection of Medgar Evers Boulevard and Coleman Avenue.
“A public works director… when he’s doing his job and doing it right will make sure these things are done,” Stokes said.
Councilman Stokes said he’s reported all these locations to the city and so have the residents who brought them to his attention…
“We’ve got evidence to prove it. What he needs to do is get off his [expletive] and get a public works director,” he said. “That way, he won’t have to make excuses.”
I tried getting that evidence from Stokes’ office Monday, but the person with that information was out sick and wouldn’t have been able to get it to me until Tuesday.
That’s when I went to Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba for proof that nothing has been reported, only to be met with this response.
“I don’t know how you prove the nonexistence of something. I can’t prove that they didn’t submit something,” Lumumba said. “They would have to prove that they did.”
The mayor does maintain that the information has not been reported to his administration – at least from Councilman Stokes.
“I didn’t say for every council person. There are council people who do communicate on a routine basis, and then there are others that don’t communicate anything at all,” he said.
When asked whether Stokes was one of the latter, the mayor said, “yes.”
Arguments aside, Lumumba does plan to name an interim director this week.
He announced he would name an appointment last week but said on Monday that the city was still working to finalize some details.
The city is also enlisting a private recruitment firm to help find someone for the position permanently.
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