About the upcoming election
More than 2,000 voters live in Ward 1 of Selma. They’ll have the opportunity to vote for a resident who lives within the ward lines on Sept. 28. Right now folks are beginning to qualify at the Selma City Clerk’s office to run for that office.
Why anyone would aspire to city council is as mysterious as quantum computing is to the uninitiated. The pay is bad. The stress is high. The connection with the public is almost non-stop. (Imagine reaching over the cantaloupe and looking at one of your constituents, who launches off into why the streets aren’t paved on a regular basis. Yes, this happens.).
Yet, there are some people who want to help Selma, and, in their opinions, this is the best way to go about doing so.
As of Friday, two men have qualified for the election: John Jowers and Tommy Atchison. Jowers is a regular face come election time in Selma. During the last city elections Jowers ran for mayor and was defeated by George Evans. Jowers received 42 votes or 1 percent in the four-person contest.
Politically, folks know less about Atchison. He’s young. He has never sought political office. He’s an attorney. What might help Atchison more than anything is his name. He is the son of the late Billy Atchison of Alabama Power and a community favorite.
Qualifying doesn’t end until mid-August. You can bet that others will toss their hats into the circle.
Some of the names mentioned about town include David Ousley, Jay Minter, Patty Sexton and Tremayne Gorden.
This election comes at some expense to the city.
It also comes with some controversy.
Council member Bennie Ruth Crenshaw and former Ward 6 Council member Johnnie Leashore publicly said they wanted the council to appoint someone to fill the Ward 1 vacancy left when the former holder of that position, Cecil Williamson, ascended to the council presidency after the death of Geraldine Allen.
The argument so far has been the ward is so overwhelmingly white that it dilutes black voting strength. This is almost laughable considering the city is so overwhelming black that at least two white majority wards had to be carved out to ensure adequate representation on the city board.
This position is not unlike the one discovered in Alabama and other states shortly after the civil rights era when many states were ordered by the federal courts to redraw districts on the state and local levels to balance population with representation. This generally is called “one man, one vote.”
In many states, a good many white power brokers lost their hold on elections and for the first time since Reconstruction, black politicians found themselves in Congress, the state legislature, city council and even as mayors.
Now, it appears roles are reversed. The would-be black power brokers in the city, Crenshaw and Leashore, have drifted toward appointments to extend a power base that would control the council, and at the proper time, see James Perkins Jr. elected mayor again.
A understanding of this is adequately addressed by Paulo Freire in “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” Freire writes that some leaders of movements spend a majority of the time on a fight centered on their own achievement of power. When they have achieved this power objective, they forget about those who supported them.
It appears Crenshaw, Leashore and the other leaders in this camp have moved toward the fight centered on their own achievement of power. The question is, what will they do next now that they did not defeat the election process?
Leesha Faulkner is editor of The Selma Times-Journal. She may be reached at 410-1730 or e-mail her at email@example.com