Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba addressed the recent claims made by Governor Tate Reeves last week stating that the city had issued its own request for proposals (RFP) to hire a water treatment management vendor.
The claims were made on Thursday during the Turkey Pardoning Ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion, with Reeves calling the city’s move an act of “total incompetence of this mayor and administration.”
“As long as the state, over the last 52 days, is doing little things to make sure the water system is operated, the mayor was perfectly fine with it,” Reeves said. “But when it comes time to put your thumb on the scale for a contractor, just like he did in garbage… he decided, ‘Hey, not only do I want to have a seat at the table, I want to control of this,’”
Since then, Lumumba has not issued a response until today, saying that he does not care what Reeves thinks about him during a press briefing.
“I would say that we both have to understand that the challenges that we are addressing are bigger than me and bigger than him,” Lumumba explained. “It’s about how do we restore a functional, dependable system for the residents of Jackson. This isn’t about the mayor and it’s not about the governor, so we have to keep that front and center in this process.”
Lumumba also shot back at claims Reeves made last week, stating that his accusations were not accurate.
“He talked about how in his 19 years in public office, this is the first time that he’s ever had to take over a water system and we have thousands in the state,” Lumumba said. “Well, first and foremost, he’s only been in executive office for three years. You can’t take over a water system as treasurer of the state.”
The mayor pointed out that out of the numerous water systems across Mississippi, there are only two that are surface water systems, one of which has been under a conservatorship. Lumumba added that although Jackson has had challenges with funding in the past, the city is “on the precipice of working together to address those things.”
As of now, the city intends to continue its previously issued RFP to find a water treatment manager and have a vendor named by November 17. Proposals for the 12-month contract are due at 1:00 p.m. on November 7.