June 3, 2009
Voters on Tuesday handed pink slips to two incumbents giving the Columbus City Council four new faces. In Ward 5 political activist and restaurant owner Kabir Karriem trounced Republican incumbent Jay Jordan with over 62 percent of the vote. Political newcomer Joseph Mickens ousted Susan Mackay in Ward 2 with a 52-percent margin.
Returning to the council room are Mayor Robert Smith who coasted to victory with 87 percent of the votes; Gene Taylor, who easily fended off a primary challenger and Ward 4''s Fred Stewart, who had the good fortune of an uncontested race.
In the primaries, voters deposed Jerry Kendall and Gene Coleman in favor of Bill Gavin and Charlie Box. Both men have solid records in the public light and are known for their even temperaments. As YMCA director Box implemented a range of innovative programs, ranging from a swimming program for public school children to art and drama classes. Gavin, a longtime educator, has owned a downtown business.
Most of Karriem''s activities have been confined to the black community. He''s been host of a popular talk radio show and organizer of the increasingly popular Seventh Avenue Festival. On more than one occasion, he has privately expressed the desire for more racial harmony in Columbus. He''s now in a position to do just that, and we hope he will. Karriem is closely allied with Lowndes County Supervisor Leroy Brooks. We hope he won''t bring Brooks'' sometimes polarizing and divisive tactics to the Municipal Complex. In recent years, the council members have settled their differences in a harmonious fashion, and we hope that trend will continue.
Of all the council newcomers, less is known about Mickens, a minister who lives in east Columbus. Four years ago, Mickens was defeated in the primary for the position he won Tuesday. He performed well in voter forums leading up to the election, providing reasoned and well-considered responses. We trust that is a sign of things to come.
The voters have spoken. Let''s move forward in harmony, open to the possibilities before us.