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Story Archives: Not getting 'caught up in silly politics'
|Not getting 'caught up in silly politics'|
Mayor Jackie Johnson set the right tone with his inaugural address —an optimistic call to unify Winnsboro to overcome challenges to create a better tomorrow.
The speech, which he gave from the stage of Winnsboro Elementary School's auditorium, was well written and Johnson delivered his message with zeal and conviction.
"I know that alone we can do nothing, but together we can light a flame that will burn throughout the state. The only thing that can stop us is ourselves, so let's not get caught up in silly politics. Let's not play games with the lives and livelihoods of our citizens. Let's work to bring a brighter day to our city and the surrounding areas. Let's work to make our city be all that she can be," Johnson told the crowd.
To make Winnsboro all she can be, we do need to work together.
There are significant challenges that will take a lot of forward thinking to overcome.
Franklin Parish is among the poorest sections of Louisiana, which is one of the poorest states in the union. Louisiana is poised to get even poorer as a result of the BP oil spill and the Obama Administration reacting to the disaster by pushing a deep-water drilling moratorium.
While Winnsboro is not a coastal city, there are many people who live here who depend on the state's oil industry to make a living and the economic impact of the spill will reverberate throughout Louisiana for years to come.
The median income for a household in Winnsboro, $17,590, as compared with $50,233 nationwide.
About 40 percent of people in Winnsboro live below the poverty line, according to the United States Census Bureau.
As Franklin Parish Tax Assessor Rod Elrod pointed out in introducing Johnson at the inauguration, there are no Interstate highways or railroads transversing Winnsboro and no ports to bring in industry.
Like many cities in Louisiana, Winnsboro's roads leave a lot to be desired and other infrastructure improvements are needed, as well.
While Winnsboro is poor, it is rich in friendly, patriotic, hardworking people —the city's greatest asset.
Johnson seems to understand this and I hope he is able to effectively sell Winnsboro to new industry looking for a home and give our already established businesses the attention they deserve.
Johnson's inauguration was inspiring, but I was somewhat disappointed by the dinner that was given in his honor Thursday night at River of Life Church.
While the event was in good taste, some of the speeches given in tribute to Johnson— from an all black panel of speakers—tended to digress into an "us against them" mentality.
Since Johnson is Winnsboro's first black mayor, there were some who chose to couch his election as a liberating epoch of a great struggle that gave Winnsboro a government "not just for the few, but for the many" — as one speaker put it.
Since the large majority of voters in Winnsboro are black, the city not having a black mayor until now shouldn't be blamed on white oppression.
The reason Jack Hammons was elected mayor for three consecutive terms before his untimely death was because a lot of black people voted for him.
The great numbers of both black and white people that attended his funeral should serve to illustrate how affection for Hammons crossed racial lines.
I was disappointed that more white people weren't at the dinner in honor of Johnson and that those who did attend seemed to segregate themselves in one area of the room.
I don't know whether more white people were invited and chose not to go or if there were simply many more invitations handed out to black people.
Regardless, there should have been more of a mixed crowd at the dinner welcoming Johnson into the mayor's seat.
Sad to say, Johnson will have much to prove as the first black mayor. There will be some hoping for is success, others expecting him to fail.
I hope that Johnson will continue to present himself as mayor of all the people of Winnsboro, regardless of race.
To do otherwise would mean getting "caught up in silly politics" —something he is on record saying he wants to avoid.