NAACP Meridian mayoral forum

Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 10:24 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The Meridian-Lauderdale County NAACP sponsored a forum for the Meridian mayoral candidates Thursday. The candidates answered the community’s burning questions as the general election is just around the corner.

Each candidate was asked their agenda items for their first day in office, if elected.

Democrat Jimmie Smith listed protocols, public safety, roads, and economic development as his top priorities.

Republican Robert Ray says fixing the school system and the police department will be his focus.

Independent Weston Lindemann says he will start working the day after elections to make Meridian the culture of success and responsibility.

“Changing the way, we do business.” Lindemann said, “Having a vibrant and energetic leader in office with recent in-depth experience. The quality of that experience and the leadership style that I have had on the city council. Now, moving into an executive role to move this city forward.”

When asked about their plans to bring unity into Meridian. Ray says people will become more neighborly when there is no racism.

“Mississippi is a racist state because we were born racist.” Ray says he is no longer racist and can end racism in the Queen City. “Mississippi is poster child for racism. So, that is why it is big issue here and that is why I know my process can do it. Only a person who has been fixed of this racism. I was a racist when I left here.”

The candidates were also asked about corruption in the Meridian Police Department. Rays say more training needs to be done.

Smith has worked for the department and says if elected, he plans to take a closer look at the integrity within MPD.

“I think we have some good officers. I think we have some great officers. Everybody is not a crook.” Smith said, “It might be one or two because we’ve had some folks that have been arrested down there.”

The Meridian candidates say they’re optimistic as the general election draws near.

Lindemann said, “When the voters have an opportunity to hear us speak more and more. That is what is encouraging more than anything. The momentum seems to be swinging in our favor.”

Smith says he will keep interacting with the community in the next few weeks. “I think I have to make sure I do everything that we’ve done previously in making sure we’re knocking door and putting those door knockers on doors. Making sure we are advertising,” Smith said.

Ray says he is running for the people in Meridian. “But this is for the people. I am doing this for the people. I don’t need this.” Ray said, “I really don’t need it. But since I—people told me, ‘Since you have the process Mr. Ray, you need to go out and do it,” Ray said.

The general election is June 8th.

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