/Mississippi governor candidate Velesha P Williams ‘Isn’t it time Democratic Party starts supporting black folks’

Mississippi governor candidate Velesha P Williams ‘Isn’t it time Democratic Party starts supporting black folks’

Williams, her husband and her children shared the decision she had been praying about for weeks at Flora’s home. “They were like, ‘If God placed it on your heart’, who are they to disagree with it? According to Williams, Mississippi Today. Williams, 57 years old, is one of nine Democratic primary candidates for governor this year, but she is the only female. She doesn’t have a name and only reported $6,500 in contributions to the January filing. However, she hopes she can emulate Robert Gray in 2015, who was the front-runner in 2015’s Democratic primary for Governor. Mississippi Today spoke with Williams about her campaign and 2019 politics. These comments were edited to be more concise and clear. Mississippi Today: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Velesha P. Wilkins: I am a former Army officer. I am a Jackson State University retiree, having served as an administrator at Metro Jackson Community Prevention Coalition. I was responsible for several programs. We feel like our work in drug prevention was significant in helping communities develop and get stronger. Our time was mostly spent in the community. I consider myself an expert in prevention — prevention of drug abuse and use. Did you grow up in Mississippi? I was born in St. Louis. My parents moved me here in 1974. I have lived here since I was twelve years old. Jackson was where I grew up. I’m from Jackson and I’m a graduate of Jackson Public Schools. Callaway High School is where I graduated in 1979. My parents lived in Jackson from the time my mother died to my father shortly afterwards. Governor. It’s the big one. Why did you decide to run for office? These issues are so serious and the neglect has been so prolonged that I was sitting at home, enjoying my retirement, and enjoying the fruits and savoring my work, when the spirit spoke to me and said, “You know, there is still work to be done.” Mississippi can benefit from your talents and skills. This is what I believe is my calling. I desire to live in obedience to God’s will for my life. Being faithful to God’s call is the foundation of my 30 year success. It wasn’t always what I envisioned as the right place, or how my life would have been structured if it were for my own desires. My desires go beyond my personal preferences and I have to make a difference. It is important to be open to the possibility of achieving the changes we desire. So I feel called to do this. Are you a candidate for office? I haven’t. People ask me if I have ever wanted to serve in another capacity. And I answer them that God didn’t call my to be an alderman, a councilman, or a legislator. He called me governor.” That’s what I plan to do. I will run this race until the end. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that could stop me from running. I believe God has given me the right to do His will for my life. It’s evident that many people have been inspired by the Trump era to run for office, despite not having any experience in politics. Are you seeing yourself in this light? People need to realize that in order to make a real difference, they must be willing to change. We believe that faith is the only thing that can make a difference. Faith is both the substance of what we hope for and the evidence that we have not seen. Faith without works is dead. We have to go beyond our desires and do the work. Christians need to get up off their knees and do the work God has called them to. Jim Hood, one of your Democratic primary opponents, is my question. He’s already in the second round of his political career. He has a statewide ID number, so he will have lots of money. What is your strategy and challenge when trying to convince voters to vote for you? First, I want people listen to my message. If they listen, I believe my message will resonate with voters. We could look beyond superficial divisions to see where Mississippi is and where Mississippi has been for a long time. If they were to listen, my message would resonate with voters. Money is not something I have much of. God did not promise me much. God promised me that I would get to the finish line and we will be celebrating the victory. However, I will say that money does not win elections. Votes do. You refer to my opponent’s experiences. He has been a politician. His greatest weakness, according to me, is his role as a politician. He has been part of the system. He has been in office 13 years and I don’t see the benefits of the votes he received. Is there anything Hood has done that you disagree with? Not necessarily not seeing the fruits but something you feel should have been done differently. There are a few things I believe could have been done differently. However, if you speak about those things, it does not add value to the election or to my purpose in running. My opponent knows his failings. He also knows his successes. He has to accept those. He has to be able to see the bigger picture. This is not my job. I have spent over two years talking with everyday Mississippians about a variety of candidates, including Jim Hood. I ask them questions such as, “What do you like or dislike about him?” Another complaint I hear from Mississippians is the way he handled Robert Shuler Smith’s case (the Hinds County District Attorney who is also running to be governor as a Democrat). Are you thinking about this and will you be discussing it on the campaign trail. This is what I will talk about. Believe people who are honest with you. Ralph Northam, Virginia’s governor, has been the subject of a media frenzy. People rallied behind him and voted to him because they felt he was a Democrat. And that somehow, because he was a Democrat that made him a champion of the people. People have a way to wear a mask. No pun intended. But the inner person, who are we, must be confronted when no one is around. When it comes to Mr. Hood and Robert Shuler Smith are two examples of showing who you really, truly are. So whatever opinions people may have about that situation, he was revealing who he really is. There will be arguments about whether he was doing his work well, over-doing it or doing something completely different. That is up to the individual. I will say this, however: I believe Mr. Hood is supported by what are called “Blue Dog Democrats.” It would be a “Dixiecrat” if I could define it. I don’t believe Mississippi needs one. A Dixiecrat would not be right for Mississippi. We have had enough Dixiecrats. It’s time for all Mississippians to be serious about helping them. I will be fighting for all Mississippians. You just mentioned the Virginia governor’s blackface incident. This was a very racist thing. Would you consider Hood’s approach to that case racist, based on the Robert Shuler Smith material? His approach in that case would be considered wrong. It can be layered with any other material you wish, but it was not right. He was wrong in his approach, and he will not admit it. You would almost certainly need to work with a majority Republican Legislature if you were elected governor. How would you collaborate with Republican leaders? You’d need to. I would evaluate who is truly committed to helping Mississippians. We elect people to work for us, not to stand in our corner and say “I won, I’m going to take care of this piece.” We elect officials to serve all of them. It’s not just the people living in the area that are elected, but the entire district. If they work for all of the residents in their area, we can accomplish our goals. Everyone needs healthcare. Everyone needs quality education. We will all breathe the same air, drink the same water, and cross the same bridges. Once we recognize that we are all in the same boat we have to make sure that everyone realizes that we must paddle together or we will sink together. Anybody, Republican, Democrat, Black or White, who is not willing to help Mississippians would be exposed to the public as who they really are and what their motives are. We are going to work together. As an officer in military I had to work with people from many different backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, and genders. If someone is leading, you must follow them or get out of their way. Stacey Abrams, a Georgian woman trying to be the first black governor in Georgia was one of the races that I observed last year. You’d not only become the first black governor in Mississippi, but you would also be the first female governor. We have never elected a black state official post-Reconstruction. Isn’t it 2019? Let me just say that there has never been a Democrat elected to office in this state without being influenced by the black vote. Period. Without the black vote, they could not be elected to a leadership position. Since decades, we, African Americans have supported Democrats. They can’t win without the black vote. They have never won without the black vote. It’s 2019. It’s 2019. Mike Espy came closer to winning the state office last year than any other black candidate. Is there anything you can take away from Espy’s campaign last year? It is the above mentioned that I think I have taken away. Black people have not hesitated to support candidates they believed would speak for them. Most of them were white candidates. I don’t know whether Mike Espy received the same support from white Democrats when he ran. That was what I believe made the difference. We can’t be a one-sided support network in Mississippi. We have to support each other every step of the way. We have to support each other every step of the way.