Ex-partners now want same political post

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 19, 2001

There’s nothing like politics to bring out the strangest ofrelationships. The upcoming city elections are full of interestingsituations, especially in the mayor’s race.

Four years ago a political fling between two former politicalfoes brought down a popular incumbent mayor. That politicalromance, built on promises to help each other win the mayor’soffice — Bill Godbold in 1997 and John Roberts in 2001 — waseventually beneficial to Brookhaven in that both men can take somecredit for helping to guide the city through local efforts toattract the Mississippi School of the Arts.

As happens in the best of romances, relationships turn sour whenegos and self-interest begin to surface. A spat between the twobegan sometime in the past two years as their faithfulness cameinto question. It came to a head in January when Bill Godbold threwhis hat into the ring for re-election. Having reneged on thepromise to support John Roberts in 2001 in return for Roberts’support in 1997, the long-time ward four alderman was left at thealtar — organ music playing and flowers in hand.

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Roberts’ announcement Friday of his run for mayor cemented thesplit and leaves the pair, in all likelihood, headed for a showdownin the June 5 general election.

Sitting in the wings as a dark horse is Alderman-at-large HenryNewman. A private school supporter, he has his own baggage to carryamong the public school crowd. He may be the spoiler in the racebut will have his hands full with Godbold during the Democraticprimary.

The two other Democratic candidates are political unknowns whosecity-wide support is questionable.

The race brings an interesting situation to Brookhaven. Ascontroversial and embarrassing as Bill Godbold has been in his pastadministrations, his current one has been quite successful. Thedevil-may-care, me-first, catch-me-if-you-can attitude he soproudly exhibited in previous terms has been replaced with one thatputs the best interests of Brookhaven at the top of his agenda.Apparently his concern for a legacy now drives his ambition.

The biggest question Godbold has to answer for voters is hishealth and his age. He already works a limited schedule due tohealth problems. At age 73, one has to question if he has theenergy to lead Brookhaven at a crucial time in its history.

For Roberts, whose heart and soul are in the right place, he hassome serious questions to answer regarding his leadership abilitiesand his own personal financial situation. Twice in the past year hewas forced to rescue his home from being sold on the courthousesteps after defaulting on personal loans. His home and otherproperty for years have been listed on the delinquent tax rolls.Courthouse records reflect at least one lawsuit over credit cardbills.

The question for voters will be how can someone who cannotmanage his own personal financial affairs be expected to manage thecity’s multi-million dollar budget?

Now that the Godbold-Roberts romance has ended, it will beinteresting to see what new alliances will be formed. Incumbentaldermen seeking re-election, as well as their opponents, are beingcourted by mayoral candidates searching for new romances.

At this juncture, we are aware of no other candidates seeking tothrow their hats into the ring, but anything can happen in the 12days remaining until the March 2 qualifying deadline.