Concerned Jackson residents uniting
After just a few months of meetings, a group of Jacksonians concerned about the city's future has made strides in reaching other concerned citizens, hosting regular meetings with public speakers.
“There is just more that is on the table now than there was even two or three months ago,” Val Vickery said. “We are excited. It is nice to see this is going somewhere.”
Vickery is a founding member of Jacksonians 4 Jackson and is on the communications team. The Fondren resident said the group has grown from a loose group of concerned citizens on the Next Door app to a group that holds regular meetings in person.
She said exact membership is hard to nail down but said they distribute their newsletter to about 1,000 people and recently put a board of directors in place. She said they have developed a core group that is “in it for the long haul.”
“Jackson has not gotten this way overnight and we are not going to fix it overnight,” Vickery said.
Duan Carter has lived in Jackson for 30 years and currently resides in Northeast Jackson. He is the board member at Large for J4J. He said the goal of the group is to get more people engaged.
“We are trying to stay engaged,” Carter said. “We want to become an outlet for the people in Jackson to make their voice heard. We also want to get information out that is useful.”
Carter said the board is “still getting its sea legs” but said they are working on forming committees, getting incorporated and hammering out the group's “mission and focus.”
Currently, the group sees its largest engagement in person during their regular meetings currently held at The Cedars on Old Canton Road in Jackson. Vickery said following a cancellation from Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba that her organization is looking to schedule a talk with Mississippi House of Representatives candidates for District 64 which includes Madison County.
Vickery said she hoped to schedule Incumbent independent Shanda Yates and her Republican challenger Amille Wilson for the Oct. 5 slot that was vacated by Lumumba or a future date.
Past speakers have included the third-party manager of Jackson’s water system Ted Henifin and Rev. Neddie Winters, the Mission Mississippi Director of Development. Vickery said Winters was a hit.
“He was outstanding,” Vickery said. “He talked about racial healing. We have got to get to the point where we trust one another.”
Restauranteur Jeff Good and businessman and former Jackson mayoral candidate Jonathan Lee are on the slate for November and J4J is already in talks with Henifin’s office for a return visit early next year.
The group hopes to build a roster of over 5,000 voters in Jackson to influence change in the city.
“We are trying to build consensus,” Vickery said. “We walk a fine line of non-party politics and non-denominationalism. We desire to build momentum so there becomes a tidal wave of like-minded people regarding integrity and the demand that our leaders represent those values.”
Both Vickery and Carter stress that the group is “non-partisan” and aims to engage all parts of Jackson.
Carter said “non-partisan” issues in his mind include safe communities, clean water, reliable trash pickup, good schools and good roads.
The group will be meeting on Thursdays at The Cedars off of Old Canton Road across the street from the St. Andrews Lower School campus moving forward. Vickery said the group hoped to find other locations to meet with the goal being to rotate through each of Jackson’s seven wards.
“The problem is finding a place to meet in each ward,” Vickery said.
The group will meet this evening, Thursday, Sept. 28, at 5:30 p.m. For more information go to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Jxn4Jxn.