Mayor Fields Questions

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In the 2005 Meridian municipal election, John Robert Smith carried seven boxes, all in primarily white areas. Jimmie Smith carried eight boxes, all in primarily African-American neighborhoods.

At his regular news conference, the day after City Council meetings, Mayor Smith said he does not accept a racial divide as the reason for the close results.

He was asked if his administration had concentrated too much on projects like the Opera House and Southern Arts and Entertainment Center and not enough on individual matters such as streets and ditches.

"We're going to tighten up. We're going to be a leaner and more responsible operation," Smith said. "And I believe the staff will take that charge and they will run with it. Those who don't, then we will get those who can follow those marching orders."

Smith admitted that he has to do a sharper job of explaining his vision to the public and in a broader way.