Community should consider mayor’s campaign slogan

Published 12:15 am Sunday, May 7, 2017

Nearly a year into his term as Natchez mayor, Darryl Grennell continues to take criticism from people who should be working with and not working against him.

Grennell ran for the Natchez mayor’s seat on a simple campaign slogan — Right leader. Right vision. Right now.

He told voters, “Together we can rebuild the city we ALL love.”

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Grennell’s campaign talk seemed genuine.

He struck a chord with voters, winning in the general election in a landslide.

Natchez was, voters confirmed, ready for change and long overdue for an end to the bickering that has divided the Natchez family for many years.

His campaign was refreshing and filled even the most callous of residents with a little hope that maybe, just maybe, he could bring people together to work toward the common good of the community.

Yet from day one — literally — Natchez’s old guard seems to be tossing political smoke bombs and inflammatory hand grenades his way, presumably just to make him have a difficult time of it.

The tearing down and personal accusations must end.

Grennell stumbled early by announcing his plans for a new city attorney without first communicating his ideas to members of the board of aldermen.

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis gave him a quick schooling in Natchez politics just hours after Grennell took the oath of office as she took the board in a different direction on the selection of the city attorney.

Eventually, Grennell prevailed and had his way, but it was a messy and rancorous process.

The city attorney debacle served no real purpose other than to allow a select few to flex political muscle and put the mayor in his place, just because they possessed the power to do so.

Since that early lesson, Grennell continues to be subject to what seems like unwarranted attacks on his character and decision-making.

Admittedly the position of mayor is not for the faint of heart. A mayor must have thick skin. But baseless attacks and insults are out of line.

Last week, in a special meeting in which the effectiveness of the city’s police chief was being discussed, a citizen and civic leader accused the mayor of racism.

One of the man’s points — that the discussion should not be done in private and particularly without the police chief present — was correct.

But rather than stopping there, the man went on to accuse Grennell of making decisions based on race and insinuating the mayor had made some kind of racially divisive campaign deal in order to gain political support.

Grennell has spent much of life involved in leadership roles in the community, last serving several terms as county supervisor. Never in that period of time do I recall him making a decision that seemed racially motivated.

In fact Grennell, a former biology instructor at Alcorn State University, has a well-known track record of using  a logical, almost scientific, approach to problems and solutions.

That show-me-the-facts approach is refreshing and much needed in Natchez right now — as is the transparency Grennell’s public critic sought.

What is not needed and not helpful is name calling and unfounded accusations.

Grennell — like all of us — is far from perfect, but calling him racist without facts to back it up is out of line.

Fortunately, Grennell stood up for himself and brushed off the criticism.

All of Natchez should consider his campaign promise, “Together we can rebuild the city we ALL love.”

But turning things around will require we work together.

Perhaps we should rework Grennell’s slogan to become a new Natchez mantra, “When we all love one another, we can rebuild the city together.”
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or