March 21, 2014
In an election this short, money can make all the difference.
Unfortunately, we won't know who the big money players in the Jackson mayor's race are for at least another week, however.
Information from the Jackson city clerk's office shows that pre-election reports are due April 1, 2014 — one week before the election. Candidates are required to itemize each contribution over $200; donations under $200 can be lumped together.
Runoff candidates would need to file another report by April 15. All candidates are supposed to file statements of economic interest (SEI) with the Mississippi Ethics Commission as are current office holders and some other appointed officials.
Since so many of the candidates are current or former officeholders, I decided to pull their SEIs.
Here's what I dug up:
First, there are two glaring omissions. A search of the ethics-commission website returned no results for Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber, pastor of Relevant Empowerment Church and consultant with Bailey Kirkland Education Group, LLC. Yarber has been on the council since 2009 and told the Jackson Free Press this week that he draws now salary from his church and earns a living doing educational consulting and through the generosity of others, which he called "Holy Ghost handshakes."
Only one result, from 2009, came back for Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon. On her form, Barrett-Simon listed no business interests aside from her position on the city council; she listed her husband, Dr. Al Simon, as an employee of Jackson State University.
Former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr.'s most recent report, filed in 2012, also shows that he held no economic interests outside of his office; he is seeking re-election to his former seat.
Democratic State Sen. John Horhn lists his wife, Gail, as an employee of Jackson Public Schools on his 2012 report. Horhn, a 2009 Jackson mayor candidate, also lists himself as an officer in three businesses: Branch Consulting Group LLC, Horhn & Associates and Landfair Solutions LLC that year.
Finally, in January 2013, Melvin Priester Jr., listed his law practice — Priester Law Firm — as a business interest and indicates that he has represented the Capital City Convention Center Commission. At the time, Priester was a candidate for Ward 2 city councilman; currently, he is seeking the mayor's office.