A candidate for Mississippi House District 82, Meridian Ward 5 city councilman John Harris, called a news conference Monday, sort of. He didn't actually answer any questions from the media, however.
Harris contacted Newscenter 11 to let us know he would challenge fellow candidate Wilbert Jones to a public debate regarding morality and integrity.
Then during a press conference at the Lauderdale County Courthouse Annex Monday afternoon, Harris refused to answer any questions or even open the floor for questions. So we don't know the motivation for the challenge.
Jones is the candidate the Charles Young, Sr., family endorsed for the House seat. Young held the post for 29 years until his death Apr. 29.
At the news conference, Harris read a few sentences from a press release stating that his wife and Wilbert Jones are both employed at Greater Meridian Health Clinic and said he would not be the victim of rumors and fear tactics. He refused to elaborate on the alleged rumors or tactics.
Also in the release, Harris said he will not publicly address issues regarding his wife or children, but he did. In the press release, Harris said if any of his constituents have any questions about his divorce, he would make available a sworn deposition. Harris said, "My divorce is not a campaign issue."
(Reporter following Harris as he walks away)"Does this conclude the press conference? Sir, does this conclude the press conference? So, you are not allowing any questions? Because I just wanted to know the purpose of this?
"Get my signs up please," said Harris to Charlotte Scott, a campaign worker.
(Reporter)"Because I just wanted to know the purpose of your press conference."
"Thank you all," Harris said.
Wilbert Jones spoke with Newscenter 11 by phone and said he would not dignify this with a response. Jones said he will not debate Harris. He says he is focused on economic growth and rallying support for our education system.
Harris later said via e-mail that, “I am disappointed that Mr. Jones has declined my challenge for a debate."
Harris and Jones are just two of the candidates who qualified to run for the House District 82 seat.
As of the qualifying deadline, Roscoe Jones, Sr., Bill Marcy, and Robert Barfield, Sr., have also tossed their hats in the ring for the seat.