This time next year Monroe will have made a decision about whether to allow Jamie Mayo to continue to serve as Monroe’s mayor or to go in another direction.
At present, Mayo is Monroe’s third Black mayor. He is the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history. Longevity has its advantages and disadvantages.
The biggest advantage is continuity. The public can expect a continuation of the systems and methods of the administration. There is no disruption of the status quo. Businesses and partnerships are not threatened and those who have a foot in the door feel safe.
The biggest disadvantage of extremely long stints in public office is stagnation. Incumbents tend to seek to protect their domain, reject new ideas, and oppose any efforts to change.
New administrations usually bring fresh ideas, new methods and as well as new energy. New administrations usually look at people, problems and practices that have been ignored, neglected or abandoned in the past with new eyes. The prospect of “New Eyes” as opposed to “Closed Eyes” tends to excite the electorate.
Although Mayo has been mayor for nearly two decades. He has made accomplishments. Thanks to President Obama’s Stimulus package we have a new airport, and the sewerage infrastructure is being overhauled. We have CenturyLink a major corporation, headquartered in our city. It balanced off the loss of General Mothers, State Farm, the Call Center and other major employers that shut their doors.
As far as we are concerned there is very little he has done for the Black community that could not have been done by a white mayor. Of course, there is the Black Rodeo and the Blues Festival, but very little has been done to help the working poor of our city.
With a black mayor, the city’s garbage workers shouldn’t be treated like slaves. These men work full shifts, year-round, but are called seasonal workers and given no benefits, health insurance or retirement. Ironically, they had benefits and retirement before Mayo became mayor.
We still have open ditches in front of our homes although Mayo promised to close them 18 years ago.
Before Mayo, the city had an independent office of Equal Opportunity that reviewed contracts for compliance with non-discrimination laws. In the first years of his term Mayo abolished the EEO office, as an independent watchdog and assigned it to the personnel department. For all practical purposes, the city does not have an EEO office.
Before Mayo, the public was protected from increases in its utility fees without a review and votes of the Monroe City Council. Now, the water and sewerage rates increase automatically every year, even if there is no established need.
The Black community has held its nose and voted for Mayo’s re-election because he routinely painted any white opponent as a Klansman and any black opponent as a person planted by the Klan. He usually pulled it off by pointing to the Republican party registration of his white opponents. The idea is Democrats are for the poor and Republicans are Klansman. If a white Republican runs next year, he will be even worse, he will be a “Donald Trump” Republican which will be the kiss of death for Black support.
Ironically, most of Mayo’s major campaign donors are Republican businessmen afraid that they will lose out if Mayo won reelection without their support.
However, North Monroe power brokers are meeting, pooling money to field a candidate against Mayo. They claim they have found a candidate who is young, progressive and will appeal to both Blacks and Whites. Supposedly their candidate will work to bridge the gap between blacks and whites.
Mayo already knows the name of the candidate. His “dirty tricks” department is already conducting opposition research.
Ironically, the reported Northside is privately hedging its bets. Hundreds of thousands are privately being raised to end the Mayo dynasty.
A strong white candidate will need approximately 25 percent of the black vote. That’s not impossible. Ray Armstrong, received 25 percent of the Black vote. Another candidate, Tom Spatafora received over 30 percent; both of them were older, but a young, energetic, progressive will have an even better chance.
It will be hard for Mayo to put a Klan cap on such a person as he has done others.
No one is saying anything publicly, but the sides are forming, money is being stockpiled and the dirt is being collected for the inevitable smear campaign of one side or the other.
One thing is certain, if any candidate pledges to give benefits to the garbage workers, he’d have at least 21 Black votes.
These 21, like others in the Black community, have been ignored by the Mayo Administration for decades.