Hattiesburg councilperson releases her own special election statement


Statement of

Deborah Denard Delgado, City Council, Ward 2

Objecting to Council President's Representation

Judge Coleman issued an Order requiring a special election to decide the Mayor of Hattiesburg.  Immediately following the decision, the President of the Hattiesburg City Council, made the decision to knowingly issue a statement to the Hattiesburg public as representing the position of the City Council as a whole that, in reality, did not reflect the will of each member of the Council.

This afternoon, I was presented a statement purported to be from the Council for my review.  I read it on the spot and advised the Clerk of the Council that I did not agree with the statement.   I advised that if the statement went out as it existed that I would issue my own statement.  She advised the President of the Council of my position and the President ordered the statement issued as it had been pinned.  No effort was made to truthfully reveal my objection to the statement.

As issued, the statement does not reflect the position of the City Council as a whole.  This is not the first time that I have been troubled by statements of the Council President that are not representative of each of us.  While I do acknowledge the impact of a majority opinion, it does not serve the City well to have a fragmented position represented as being unanimous.   We do not always agree and it takes little effort to state the true will of elected officials who represent different parts of the City.  My colleague, the Council President, does not seem willing to do that.

This instance is of particular distress because it is essentially asking the Republican Party leadership of this State to conduct and staff a special election contrary to the law providing that the Election Commission conduct elections.  As an elected Democrat, that does not sit well with me.   Needless to say, the Council President and a majority of the Council and most of those involved in the lawsuit on the side of my former colleague, Dave Ware, are Republicans, some being high ranking.  Most of those involved on the side of the Mayor are Democrats.

Historically, elections are carried out by the Election Commission with the assistance of the City Clerk working mainly as facilitator.   Imperfect as human beings are, there will be times when all does not go according to the prescriptions.  Our position should be to make sure that the rules we have in place are followed.  Having experienced what some may call a flawed process, I believe we are certainly now capable of conducting elections properly.   We all have a heightened sense of what the errors were and I know that each candidate, the Commission and the City Clerk will make sure that all workers are armed with clear knowledge of the process and the rules.

Inviting the State of Mississippi to conduct an election in Hattiesburg does not give me, as a voter, the level of comfort I believe the voting public deserves to insure a fair election for all the reasons that required the Voting Rights Act to be passed in order for people like me to be able to serve.

As a consequence, I am asking the Justice Department to send in Federal election oversight teams to insure that no action is taken to prevent all eligible voters from participating in the election.

We are, indeed, entitled to fair elections.  I just believe that the Federal government has a better record of protecting the right to vote than the State of Mississippi.