I gave politics a try when I sought the Democratic Party nomination for Governor in 2011. It was a two-year effort and was both a rewarding and disappointing experience. After I lost, I resumed my pre-gubernatorial run lifestyle – practicing law, being an entrepreneur and involving myself in various community endeavors such as committee and board services to benefit my hometown.
Beginning in early 2012, I was approached by a person suggesting I should run for Mayor. I replied with a short answer that I was “simply not interested.” However in the late fall of 2012, I began to feel increasing pressure that I seek the office of Mayor. One individual literally ran me down following a funeral service. and stated I “had to run.” Clarksdale, like most Delta towns, has been suffering a population decline, and manufacturing/retail losses for a couple of decades. I told my friend who tracked me down after the funeral that if he could get me some community leaders and preachers on a petition to run, I would consider it. Within a couple of days, he brought in six whole pages of signatures. The display of support from the community was overwhelming. By Christmas, I had made up my mind to run.
Running a campaign for Mayor is simply not the same as was my gubernatorial experience. Some of the obvious differences are, of course, the fact that I could stay home and carry out a campaign rather than crisscross the state as I had done for almost two years while running for Governor. Also, the campaign budget was minuscule compared to what my run for Governor cost in terms of both campaign expenditures and loss of income, etc. I estimate my gubernatorial campaign cost almost 2.5 million dollars whereas my run for Mayor cost less than $75,000. While the issues differed somewhat, things nevertheless seemed to overlap in areas of job creation, crime control, etc.
One of the interesting aspects of running for Mayor that I did not really expect going in the race is how vituperative it became. One candidate, an independent whom I faced in the general election, and his friend-girl were badmouthing me. I was receiving multiple reports, sometimes daily, from friends who overheard the muck raking. When all was said and done, I won the general election by the same margin that I had won the Democratic primary. I received over two-thirds of the vote, and faced three opponents in the general election.
Now the hard part begins. I take office on July 1st and intend to hit the ground running. I welcome your ideas, criticisms and comments. Throughout my campaign I came to realize the power of the churches in our community. If we could only channel some of that energy into community building. I intend to turn empty lots into community gardens. I intend to seek aid from every resource possible, including grants and neighborhood watches, to curb crime. I am excited about the prospect of serving in this important office.
Bill Luckett, Mayor-Elect, Clarksdale