The penultimate Saturday before the Aug. 27 municipal election naturally was filled with political rallies from two of the Mobile mayoral candidates.
The rainy weather on Aug. 17 helped out candidate Sandy Stimpson’s rally inside the Greater Gulf State Fairground, while incumbent Sam Jones prepared for the rain and had tents up at his rally in Municipal Park. Both rallies kicked off at noon with food and entertainment.
The bigger of the two rallies was Stimpson’s, although the size could be in part to its location and the fact it lasted from noon to 3 p.m. Jones rally lasted until 5 p.m. and people were coming and going.
At Stimpson’s rally, when the crowd of about 400 people, made up of mostly African-Americans were not listening to The Red Field Band, Prichard Preparatory Choir or Tucka, they were hearing from supporters and Stimpson.
Supporter and former Prichard Police Chief Jimmy Gardner spoke to the crowd and stressed that the divisiveness in the campaign did not come from Stimpson.
“Sandy is the epitome of ‘One Mobile,’” he said. “He epitomizes that vision of everyone coming together. It is not blind ambition.”
Gardner then spoke of Stimpson’s work with Prichard Preparatory School and how he helped raise $6 million for the Boys & Girls Club as well as $10 million to bring Airbus to Mobile. This, Gardner said, shows Stimpson is already a man with vision.
The African-American supporter also referenced a campaign ad that Jones is running on a radio station.
“As I listen to 104.1 and I hear divisive things being shared as this race moves forward, I would be remiss to tell you I’m not troubled and I’m not concerned,” Gardner said. “During this time I also hear where it is said that Sandy is responsible for the divisiveness. That is so far from being the truth.
“Sandy has always been about bringing this city together and he’s proven it.”
Stimpson then took the stage to cheers and thunderous applause. He called the people to the front of the stage saying, “I can’t win the race with people sitting in chairs.” Soon a large crowd was upfront as Stimpson spoke of what he wants for Mobile and what he is about.
“When I lost my voice last week, someone told me ‘Sandy, it dawned on me when you lost your voice that it will show people it’s really about their voice,'” he said. “Our police have been crying out for eight years. Our firemen have been crying out for eight years and nobody has heard them. They’re tired of it and that’s why we have their support.”
Stimpson said the small business owners, realtors and more have not been heard. He said the citizens are tired of their “doors being kicked in and cars being broken into.”
For things to change, Stimpson said its about leadership.
“You can be in a position of power and not be a leader,” he said. “You’re only a leader if people choose to follow you and people will only choose to follow you if you do the right thing and listen to them. I’m not perfect but I’ve listened and tried to do the right thing.
“What I know is if I listen to you, we can create One Mobile.”
Not too far from the Stimpson rally, Jones and nearly 100 supporters gathered under tents and braved the sporadic rain.
The rally on Aug. 17 was actually put on by the Love Jones Movement, which is a group of younger Jones supporters. One of the lead organizers said while she can’t vote in the Aug. 27 election, she wanted to contribute toward Jones’ reelection.
Cherise Ball is from Mobile and now lives in Atlanta but her family still lives in the city. She said supporting Jones is important because the next mayor will still affect her.
“I cannot vote for Mayor Jones, but I continue to support home because it will make a difference to my family,” she said. “I am also passionate because I see the progress that has been made under Mayor Jones and I want that to continue.”
Ball, who was sporting her Love Jones Movement shirt, outlined why she would vote for Jones if she could.
“If you want a person who you can trust then Mayor Jones is that man ” she said. “He is experienced and you can see what he’s done. His values, work ethic and character make him the leader that will be able to carry Mobile forward.”
University of South Alabama student JaMarkus Coleman moved to Mobile from Tuscaloosa four years ago. In that time he has not only become a registered voter in the city, but also a supporter of Jones.
Coleman said he’s seen the city’s progress in the four years since his arrival and wants that to continue.
“In four years I’ve seen Mobile grow,” he said. “There is progress to come and that’s because of Mayor Jones. I want that to continue even more.”
Jones spoke saying people should vote based on what has been done and not about promises.
“My message is that people can see performance and not promises that may never come,” he said. “When I’ve been mayor, we’re come through one of the worst financial times and in that time had the highest bond rating in the city’s history. We’re actually going to come through better than most.
“We also saw economic development like Airbus and retail that is coming soon.
“We’re actually outpacing the national economy. Since I’ve been mayor, the quality of life and financial situation in Mobile has improved.”
The Jones supporters were treated to a performance by 3UnbornSoulz’s “Where We From,” which is a rap song about voting for Jones.
The campaigns are in the home stretch. There are only 10 days before Mobilians head to the polls to vote for their mayor and some council positions. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. on Aug. 27.
To find your municipal voting location, which can be different from state and county polling spots, go to http://www.cityofmobile.org/election/votingcenters.php.