Writer responds to readers’ comments

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I would like to thank everyone for the numerous responses to my column (“Will mayor-elect favor the prominent,” May 9).

A well-respected African-American gentleman who lives in Ward 5 sent an e-mail that captivated me. I requested that he call me. We did not agree totally on every issue, but respected each other’s viewpoints.

He shared with me disturbing news that I was unaware of about Mr. McLemore’s behavior and character issues, and bashing Mayor-Elect Raystine Johnson, which raised a red flag because of the respect I have for the person.

My former school teacher said I need to clarify a portion of the article, and that was simply this — I did not mean for it to come out that the workers inside the polling places were acting uppity and rude, but some of the people campaigning for Johnson were not as friendly as they could have been when outside campaigning for her at the polling places.

However, I still stand on the beliefs that McLemore has good ideas and the city at heart, but sometimes fails to articulate his ideas professionally. The question is will McLemore take the criticism as a grain of salt and improve on his communication skills and behavior, or will it cause him to become disgruntled and lose zeal for serving on the council?

As for Johnson, I am convinced she has the capabilities of serving as mayor. I also believe she will have no tolerance for disrespect during council meetings.

I will support Johnson and McLemore because they represent me, but will not vote for either if they do not do what is right for all.

A few things I would like every councilmember to consider is you were not elected to represent yourself; you were elected to represent the citizens.

You are the mouthpiece of those you serve; therefore, your position should never be of your own. It should be about what the citizens want. That is why we vote for the people we believe have our best interests at heart.

Whoever is elected must stay in communication with the people to know what they feel and want.

Inquiring minds want to know after the 16 years of Jim Councill serving as mayor, why all of a sudden did prominent white business owners and professional leaders decide to support Johnson verses Councill’s past challengers such as Clarence Baker, the Rev. Ellis Crum and the Rev. James Riddick?

What were the motives behind their support? Was it the “good ole’ boy system,” which means you get what you want if you do what we want to get our continued support?

Will Johnson run for re-election as mayor, or will she run for city council in another ward because she owns property in another ward and was that part of the deal?

Is there a challenger being groomed for the next mayoral election by the white business owners and professional leaders who supported Johnson?

I believe that the majority of the prominent African-American supporters were genuine in their support. Some said they voted for the lesser of two evils between Johnson and McLemore.

Is there a strategic game play to get rid of McLemore one way or the other? Is that strategic plan fair and just?

Attempts have been made before that were unjust to get rid of McLemore, such as revising the city charter related to requirements to run for city council.

One in particular —must not be delinquent in their taxes. I feel that was only an idea because city council members opposed to McLemore knew that he was delinquent in his taxes. If they want to get rid of him, do it the right way.

In regards to racial equality, our society has come a long way, but racism is still very much alive and deception among the races still breaths.

Councill served the city faithfully, although some had issues with his decisions. I believe he did what he felt was in the best interests of the people. Councill and I had met concerning the Navy using the municipal airport for pilot training. He was very detailed in his viewpoints, and provided supporting sources.

I sincerely wish Johnson, Barry Cheatham, Benny Burgess, McLemore, Mona Murphy, Mary Hilliard and Donald Blythe much success on city council and I pray they will work together.

To Councill, we thank you for your service.

BISHOP J.B. “JAMALL” WHITEHURST is the pastor of Souls for Christ Temple in Portsmouth and a mental health counselor. He can be reached at jbwhitehurst77@gmail.com