Multiple sources have confirmed to Lagniappe that former Mayor Sam Jones announced Sunday at Greater Nazaree Baptist Church he would again be seeking the city’s highest office.
The Rev. James Parrish, the church’s pastor, said he could neither confirm nor deny what the other sources had said, but added there might be an announcement soon.
Calls to Jones went unreturned last Monday afternoon. The former mayor has previously refused to give interviews to Lagniappe.
Jones was elected to consecutive terms in 2005 and 2009 before losing to current Mayor Sandy Stimpson in 2013. Stimpson has not yet announced whether he would be running for re-election, but city spokesman George Talbot said Stimpson was focused on the city and not the election. During his previous campaign, Stimpson indicated he wouldn’t serve more than two terms.
“We’re 100 percent focused on moving Mobile forward,” he said. “We’re making great progress every day toward becoming the safest, most business- and family-friendly city in America. My administration won’t be distracted by politics.”
Jones has been a political lightning rod in the city. His nomination about two years ago to the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System by Councilman Fred Richardson split the City Council along racial lines. The debate caused a delay in voting on some agenda items and resulted in a council meeting walk-out by high-level administration staff. The episode was resolved when Stimpson asked councilors to support the nomination and resulted in a series of administration-backed race relations forums.
More recently, Jones appeared at a pre-conference meeting and was asked his opinion during a discussion of the merits of a citizen advisory board for the Mobile Police Department, following the shooting death of 19-year-old Michael Moore by officer Harold Hurst. Jones said he’d support the board, even though he opposed a similar board when he was in office.
Stimpson’s Chief of Staff Colby Cooper called Jones a “political plant” after the meeting and added that the administration doesn’t play politics with law enforcement. As of Monday, Jones had yet to file official paperwork to register his candidacy.