Standing in front of a vacant and blighted apartment complex in the heart of Councilman Levon Manzie’s District 2, Mayor Sandy Stimpson spoke at a press conference this afternoon to clarify his actions at today’s city council meeting and reiterate his commitment to his campaign slogan of “One Mobile.”
“We have choice to make in this city. What kind of city do we want to have and what direction do we want to move,” he asked. “We need to recognize that the vast majority of Mobilians, whether Asian, black, Hispanic or white, we want the same thing. You want city government to be effective. You want competence in the institutions that were created to protect you and serve your basic needs. You want less noise and more action you want solutions, not excuses.”
Fielding questions from the press, Stimpson explained that he walked out of the city council meeting because he was frustrated that three councilors abstained on a vote about a neighborhood problem that had no consequence elsewhere in the city.
“Today was the first time [division on the council] was involving the business of the city, addressing a problem in a neighborhood that affected our citizens,” he said. “The rest of it was political appointments… It crossed the line when it started to affect the services of the citizens and I had enough.”
Stimpson compared local nominations to those of the U.S. Supreme Court and others nationwide, saying it should be no surprise when a nomination is debated on its merits. He said his walk-out was spontaneous and he didn’t ask his entire administration to follow behind.
“Anytime you have feelings or emotions I had at that moment it’s best to go off and think about it so that’s what I did.”
As the conference continued on Lincoln Street, which ironically shares the name with the president who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the mayor also declined to acknowledge there were racial undertones to the entire episode.
“Maybe I’m being a pollyannish about it but I would like to think that would not be the deciding factor in anybody’s mind,” he said, “I will give them the benefit of the doubt that it’s something else.”
He also wouldn’t speculate about the root of the problem.
“You never know who’s causing the division or what their motive is. But obviously there are people who are not interested in there being unity, but that comes back to the leadership of those that were elected to provide it.”
Meanwhile Joyce Cook, a citizen of Lexington Street who just happened to be passing by when she stopped to listen to the mayor’s comments, said race was a factor.
“There are some people that feel it is a race problem and mistreat people because of the color of their skin and they can care less,” she said.
Cook said she has spoken with Manzie on several occasions and personally supports Sam Jones’ candidacy on the MAWSS board.
“Sam was the best qualified person for that job and I don’t see why one person will not vote for him,” she said.