Hattiesburg, a battleground city: An opportunity of which we should take advantage

By Ivory Phillips

Jackson Advocate Contributing Editor

Phil Bryant and his cronies have definitely made the city of Hattiesburg into a major battleground this election season.

After Mayor Johnny DuPree narrowly won re-election, his challenger took the matter to court. The challenge left DuPree the winner by 30+ votes. Then, as a result of a motion filed by the challenger, the court ordered a new election, indicating that Governor Phil Bryant would set the date for the new election.

On Tuesday, Aug. 20, Bryant set the election for Tuesday, Sept. 24. The announcement, as reported, however, raised several concerns. The first was the reasoning behind overturning the first phase of the electoral process, enabling all candidates  who had originally run, rather than just the finalists, to be a part of the new election. To some people it just seemed as if this was Bryant’s way of making it easier for the challenger to come out ahead – splitting the black vote. If that is the case, there is still the opportunity for voters to assert their preference by coming out in strong numbers for the individual who has done a great deal to move Hattiesburg in the right direction – Johnny DuPree.

The second concern turns out to be more a matter of clarification. It appeared from the announcement of the new election that ANYONE who wanted to vote in the September 24 election had to register to vote at least 30 days before the election, which would mean registering before Monday, Aug. 26. The situation, however, is that this registration and its deadline applies only to NEW, UNREGISTERED voters. It is not clear to the writer whether the confusion stems from the news reporter or from the way in which the Governor’s Office wrote the announcement. In either case, the word needs to go out to potential voters exactly what thesituation is.

DuPree supporters may have been too confident in the first election and not gotten out to vote. Although it would have made matters easier, had they done so, the opportunity is still available for voters to show their appreciation of and loyalty toward a man who has done a great deal for them as constituents.

In Hattiesburg and nationwide, the Tea Party brand of Republicans have done and are continuing to try to do whatever they can to take us back to the “good old days;” the days of unquestioned racial oppression and exploitation.

In order to do that, a part of that strategy is to capture the mayors’ offices in state’s larger municipalities. Hattiesburg voters need to make sure that they follow in the path of Clarksdale, Jackson and Meridian, disrupting that strategy.

Although it may have been the forces opposed to progress who made the Hattiesburg Mayoral Election into a battleground, the supporters of a progressive Hattiesburg, wherever they are, should do all in their power to assure that the battle is won by those who favor true democracy and human brotherhood. Get out and vote for Johnny DuPree and help others to get to the polls. This is your golden opportunity.