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Mayor Rebukes Jackson Water Takeover Bill As ‘An Effort to Seize Control of A Black City’

JACKSON, Miss.—Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba is speaking out against a renewed legislative effort for the State to wrest control of Jackson’s water system away from Mississippi’s capital city, characterizing it as an attack on Black leadership.

“We have to be unequivocal with our rejection of it. I don’t think we should be talking about our amendments to it. I think it needs to be shut down,” the mayor said during a press conference at City Hall in Jackson yesterday.

Senate Bill 2628, the Mississippi Capitol Region Utility Act, would place Jackson’s water and sewer systems under the control of a state-appointed regional water authority once the federally appointed interim third-party manager, Ted Henifin, is no longer in charge of the systems.

‘We Are Opposed to How the Board Will Be Appointed’

Under the Jackson water takeover bill, authored by Sen. David Parker, R-Olive Branch, Mississippi’s governor and lieutenant governor would appoint a nine-member board to oversee the majority-Black city’s water system. The board would consult with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi before appointing a president.

Mayor Lumumba compared the effort to another proposed bill that would force the closure of three of the state’s eight universities by June 2028—possibly including historically Black universities like Jackson State University in the capital city. Although that bill is unlikely to become law and will likely die on calendar due to a legislative deadline today, Mayor Lumumba described it and the Jackson water takeover bill as part of a pattern.

“It is part and parcel of an effort to seize control of a Black city that is run by Black leadership,” Lumumba said on Monday.

JXN Water Interim Third-Party Manager Ted Henifin, pictured, said on Feb. 23, 2024, that he supports the new version of the Mississippi Capitol Region Utility Act after opposing a similar bill in 2023. Photo by Nick Judin

While the mayor voiced total opposition to the Jackson water takeover bill on Monday, members of the Jackson City Council said during a special meeting the same day that they want residents be able to provide

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