Stokes: A Bought Man?

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton assured council members Monday that Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes would support placing Leland Speed in an unpaid consultant position with the Jackson Redevelopment Authority despite Stokes' contentious relationship with Speed.

"It was crazy," said ACORN head organizer Sonya Murphy. "The mayor said 'I'll handle that. We'll make sure he's on board,' like he owned Stokes. It's clear to me that Stokes is a bought man."

Stokes has long been a vocal opponent of Speed and companies like Downtown Jackson Partners. Stokes was not present at the Monday meeting and did not return calls, but Melton told the council that the missing councilman would approve Speed's appointment, despite their past differences.

Ward 2 Councilman Leslie McLemore said the mayor's assurance had not even been necessary. "The mayor could have appointed Speed without even bringing it before the council, but this way he got some coverage on the newspaper and on television," McLemore said.

Stokes was the lone councilman to oppose Melton bringing on Speed as the new JRA director in January.

"I'm not going to curse," Stokes told The Clarion-Ledger in January. "But I'm going to have to see what he's going to be able to do. ... I'm not that kind of believer."


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