The years 2020 and 2021 have brought a lot of changes, but one thing is for sure – voting and elections matter. In November of last year, people showed up and showed out to elect President Joe Biden and the first Black woman to hold a national office, Madam Vice President Kamala Harris. Now, our country faces systematic and deliberate attacks from lawmakers who wish to take those rights away. But, many are fighting back against these injustices, and the Black Press will continue its tradition of highlighting the triumphs and inequities we face. One tradition that the Jackson Advocate has is to endorse political candidates that we believe are going to uphold the standards of the Black community and create positive change.
Next Tuesday, November 2, 2021, there is a special election where citizens from Hinds County will elect the Hinds County Judge representing Subdistrict 1, the District 5 Constable, and the next Hinds County Sheriff. The sheriff’s race is a bittersweet one as the county and the city of Jackson are still mourning the loss of Sheriff Lee Vance. Thirteen candidates stepped forward and boldly declared that they were ready to fill his shoes: Brandon Caston, Marshand Crisler, Colendula Green, Beverly Harris-Williams, Tyree Jones, Cheryl Matory, Torrence D. Mayfield, Leon Seals, Richard Spooner, Leslie Charles Tannehill, Jr., Reginald Thompson, Eric T. Wall, and Ather West, Sr.
Our editorial board chose to endorse Marshand Crisler. Out of 9 of the board who voted in this particular race, he received 40% of the vote. Eric Wall came in second place with 30%, and the rest of the votes were divided between Tyree Jones, Beverly Harris-Williams, and Leon Seals with 10% each. When giving reasons why members voted for Crisler, one board member cited, “His desire to fulfill the duties of the office, I believe, gives him the edge.”
Another member expressed, “Crisler is already serving in the capacity as Interim
Sheriff and, in my opinion, has a head start on the other candidates. His law enforcement experience and his precise answers in the [Jackson Advocate’s] “8 Questions” interview stood out. He has clear-cut, tangible plans and firm relationships that he has built over time as both a deputy, city councilperson, and a college professor. Those make him the most well-rounded of all the candidates. His current momentum shouldn’t be interrupted, and I feel an assessment can be made after a full-term.”
Candidates were rated on a scale from 1 to 5 on interdepartmental relationship building, safety, fostering community trust, programs to protect mentally ill citizens, budget management/maintenance, accessibility/accountability, and effectiveness/experience. Crisler ranked 4 in most categories with 5s in programs to protect mentally ill citizens and budget management/maintenance. His overall ranking was 4.25.
Nonetheless, there will be a runoff, and there are a good number of credible contenders as we listed before. For Eric Wall, members said that he is “experienced, community-oriented, and accountable”, and “he has a strong, stable career in law enforcement and worked closely under Sheriff Vance.” One member in favor of Leon Seals says he has “integrity. Thoughtfulness. [He’s] committed to getting the job done. I don’t think he’s looking to run for something else. He wants to do this job.”
The Jackson Advocate staff worked hard to talk to every candidate to get answers to questions the community should know. One staff member recorded all of these answers and went to various community events over the past month. Though he did not vote as a part of the board, I would be remiss if I did not note that he was very taken by the honesty, integrity, commitment, and eagerness of Beverly Harris-Williams, noting that he thought she was not phased with the prestige of the job but would focus on the needs of the people. Another board member also noted that she has experience and the integrity to get the job done.
In the race for District 5 Constable, Juan Cloy received 50% of the vote with Demario F. Benson, Larry “Big” White, and Beverly Wade Green receiving 16.7% of the vote each. One member notes, Juan Cloy, far and above, has been the most visible and engaged of these candidates. He’s been a go to for years for insight into youth crime. Even when he hasn’t worked in an official capacity, he’s involved in the community.” And two other members say that they are confident in his law enforcement experience.
Demario Benson was highlighted for being a “Christian servant, who is currently serving as the appointed constable. Therefore, he is the only experienced person.” Another board member supports Beverly Wade Green to ensure that there is female representation in all aspects of government and law enforcement. For Larry White, a board member has “confidence in his ability to carry out the duties of the office.”
Constable candidates were rated on safety/consideration for citizens, ability to foster relationships with judges, accessibility/accountability, and effectiveness/experience. Cloy received an overall ranking of 4.5.
Last but not least, the elected seat of Hinds County Judge, Subdistrict 1 was left open in June of last year when Judge Melvin Priester, Sr. stepped down. Judge Carlyn Hicks was appointed by Chief Justice Mike Randolph to fill the seat and Judge Larita Cooper Stokes assigned Judge Hicks to the Youth Court. Hicks and Greta Mack Harris are the candidates looking to fulfill the role.
Our editorial board voted 63.6% for Carlyn Hicks and 36.4% for Greta Mack Harris. Board members say that Hicks’ “experience in this position has been impeccable” and they have “watched her interactions with the public and find her to be quite responsive to her community by keeping them abreast of meaningful ways to improve their quality of life.” Another member says, “Hicks has served well in her interim role as county court judge. She has been visible in the community beyond the bench and was so before her appointment. She should continue in this capacity.”
Furthermore, Hicks “has been doing an excellent job in her role as judge in Hinds County youth court. She has implemented much needed services, programs, and practices in a very short period of time but has had a good impact on our community and the families that come before the court. She has shown she has the capacity to handle not only matters of children but also adults. Her work ethic and administrative oversight show lots of competency.”
Mack was also applauded for her experience, her independence, and her strong resume.
The judicial candidates were scored on trust/integrity, mentorship/community & interorganizational engagement, accessibility/accountability, and effectiveness/experience. Hicks received a 4.88.
Ultimately, this election is in the hands of the citizens of Hinds County. We’ve gathered questions and answers from the candidates for our readers and supporters to make informed decisions. These answers can be found below. For more extensive interviews, visit our YouTube page. Please vote Tuesday, November 2. For a list of precincts, visit https://www.co.hinds.ms.us/pgs/apps/polling_location_list.asp.