While Mississippi has been a focal point of negative attention from the national media over the past two months due to the Jackson water crisis, one state leader is arguing that the capital city is tarnishing the image of the Magnolia State.
House Speaker Phillip Gunn touted many achievements reached by the state, such as educational improvements, changing the state flag, tax cuts, etc. However, the House Speaker stated that all of those accomplishments have been overshadowed by negative attention stemming from Jackson’s rising crime rate and unsteady water systems.
“We have made great strides and efforts to change the image of our state, make it positive, and make some improvements. Unfortunately, the national news over the last two months has been nothing but negative on the state of Mississippi. All of which has seemed to have emanated from Jackson — the water crisis, the flood, the crime rate, and things of that nature,” Gunn said on MidDays with Gerard Gibert. “Your capital city is kind of the face of your state. Your capital city is what people look to and sadly, a month ago, we had a ‘porta potty’ on the front lawn of our state capital because of the water system situation.”
Although state intervention is an option to fix many of Jackson’s ever-growing problems, Gunn recognizes that it’s going to be a tall task to convince representatives of other Mississippi districts to get on board with solving the capital city’s problems.
“We are going to have to appeal to our fellow legislators to be willing to step up and help, most of whom do not live in the Jackson area. They’re going to have to have a passion to make sure our capital city looks good, functions well, and is a good reflection on our state,” Gunn continued. “We’re trying to evaluate what that looks like and step up in a way that will change some of these issues and improve our image.”
Gunn speculates that his only hope in convincing colleagues to aid in fixing Jackson’s problems is a sense of pride in the capital city and understanding how the state will not be viewed in a positive light as long as the city appears to be struggling. Even then, he knows that there will have to be strings attached to any state resources aimed to remedy Jackson’s issues.
“Most of the legislators do not live in the Jackson area, so the only argument we have with them is, ‘This is our capital city. It is a reflection of the entire state. So the entire state needs to take pride in it and right these problems that exist,” Gunn said. “I do not think I have the votes to just give any money to the city. Any solution that we come up with is going to have to involve some sort of oversight, some sort of commission on board or maybe even privatization of the water system.”
The full interview with Gunn can be watched below.