July 17, 2019 11:20:08 AM
The special election field to fill the Ward 4 city council vacancy has swelled to five candidates.
Pat Fisher Douglas, Lavonne Latham Harris and Dorothy McClung Lewis are all vying for the seat vacated by former councilman Fred Jackson, all qualifying within the last week. They will join Pierre D. Beard Sr. and Kegdra Gibbs-Gray on the ballot for the Aug. 20 election.
Jackson announced his resignation July 3, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. He was halfway through his first term, which expires in June 2021.
Douglas, 66, a retired Lowndes County educator who remains active in the community as an ordained minister, is running for the first time. She said she anticipates focusing primarily on youth issues.
"I am a servant of God loving people making a difference," Douglas said. "Our youth has slipped through the cracks. In third grade now they are adults with no guidance, no recreational activities for weekends to keep them busy."
The other obvious issue facing Ward 4, Douglas said, is helping residents affected by a destructive Feb. 23 tornado.
"The ... storm is still very much visible due to lack of pick up of debris," she said. "The displaced residents, some still have no residence to call home. I care about all of God's creation."
Harris, 58, is running for the second time for the Ward 4 seat. She owns a hair salon and serves as president of the Lowndes County NAACP.
Her community involvement also includes serving with the Loaves and Fishes nonprofit and as a member of the Columbus Police Department Citizen Overview Committee.
"I am a woman with strong leadership," Lewis said. "If I am elected, I will continue to work and serve the community. I just try to help the community wherever it's needed. I'm not going to be the person if I get the seat, they won't see me. I want to be visible and let the people know I am for them."
Harris added, with the effects of February's tornado still present, she would also like to focus on helping citizens still struggling since the storm.
"I do feel there's a lot that can be done in the ward," Harris said. "I'm riding around the neighborhood now, a lot of people are still not in their houses. I want to try to talk to people and help them and try to get their lives back together. I'll get with the mayor and find out what else can we do to assist with the clean up before it becomes a health hazard. Right now, we still have a lot of debris on the road. I just want to be there for the people due to the fact I'm already working diligently with the community."
Lewis, 68, spent 40 years as a public school teacher in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.
Originally from Columbus, she moved back home in 2016 and quickly saw a need to run for public office for the first time.
"I just got busy seeing what needs to be done and started doing things," Lewis said. "I guess from that, my neighbors thought I would be an ideal person. I just felt like the area I grew up in needed to be cleaned up. I grew up in the Memphis Town projects. From there (I now live in) a home on 27th Street."
Lewis said she also wants to promote senior citizen and youth involvement in Columbus if elected.
"I'm passionate about my community. I want to see us do better," Lewis said. "I want to deal with the education because I've been in it so long. I see the need for children in the summer time needing something to do, so I would really like to do that and to get the seniors involved in the community. Let's get together and together we can get it cleaned up. I see a lot of potential here, I just want to do as much as I can as long as I can."
The deadline for candidates to qualify is July 31.
1. Fiber internet coming to Lowndes County COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Lowndes man killed during apparent struggle over weapon with son COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Remembering Beverly Norris: The 'princess' of Columbus art COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
4. Alabama man arrested after high-speed chase from Lowndes to Pickens counties COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. Aldermen to consider TIF for retail center on Highway 12 STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY