Who will be Brookhaven’s mayor?

Published 8:00 am Saturday, April 3, 2021

Two pastors are vying in the Democratic primary for the chance to challenge two-term incumbent mayor Joe Cox in the June 8 General Election.

Facing each other in the primary election on April 6 on the Democratic ballot are the Rev. Larry Jointer and the Rev. Jerry Kelly. Cox has no opponent in the primary.

The Democratic contenders share similarities — both men are pastors, both have law enforcement experience, both would be new to political service and both say they have a deep love for Brookhaven and its people.

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Jointer said ministry is more than just work as a pastor — it means meeting needs everywhere.

“It includes if you see a wrong, do something about the problem you see,” Jointer said, “and work with compassion. I have never considered myself a leader in my community, but I want to fix the problems that I see.”

One of the problems Jointer sees is in the city’s infrastructure.

“I see things that are neglected, like the proper maintenance of our drainage system, cleaning out ditches,” he said. “Walking through the community, I see there are a lot of problems with standing water and it’s because drainage is clogged, because debris hasn’t been cleaned up when it should have been. It’s been an issue the last eight to nine years.”

An issue of focus for Kelly is young professionals leaving the city to find employment somewhere else. They are leaving because not enough well-paying jobs are available in their hometown, he said.

“The first thing I want to focus on is economic stability, creating jobs and making the city appealing for jobs to come in for different work forces,” he said. “My desire is to see my city grow and be healthy.”

Jointer believes Brookhaven must be attractive in order to attract new business.

“Businesses that are potential investors in this area come in ahead of time and look around the city, not just where they want to put their business,” he said. “We have to make it more inviting for people and businesses to come here.”

Cox points to his record over the past eight years as support for his bid to remain in office. Participation in commercial and industrial business recruitment, completion of a paving project of the city’s main traffic arteries and 77 streets throughout all wards and the completion of the city’s largest water and sewer project are three accomplishments Cox cites as to why he is the best candidate to serve the city as mayor.

Improvements to the downtown area have made an impact, Jointer said, but now the focus needs to be all around Brookhaven.

“Our beauty is fading some, and we’ve got to do something,” he said. “Right now, debris and neglect of cleaning is what’s plaguing the city.”

Kelly said what will really move the city forward is its people working together with one mind for the good of all.

“Our goals are to help Brookhaven as a whole, not one race or one community,” he said. “We need to be seeing things globally, nationally and locally, using our youth — background doesn’t matter. The desire in your heart is what pushes you to do what needs to be done.”

A good educational system and people working together for the most part are strengths of the Homeseekers Paradise, Jointer said, but a stronger focus needs to be placed on cooperation without preference for friendship or common viewpoints, promoting the city and financial accountability.

“My focus over the next four years includes fostering a safe community through neighborhood watches, CrimeStoppers and stronger relationships with residents and law enforcement,” Cox said.

He points to a maintained $12.5 million balanced budget over his two terms as proof the city is working well fiscally, as well as keeping expenditures under revenues and obtaining more than $7.1 million in grants.

Brookhaven is a great place to be from and to live in now, Kelly said, but things can be better. Following through on plans and commitments is vital.

“My platform, my heart, my desire is to be approachable and transparent,” Kelly said. “I will share information over and over so everyone knows what’s going on and has access to the information. I will present very obtainable goals for the City of Brookhaven. I’m not seeking popularity or power, but to lead change.”

“I have a strong work ethic, fair, good communicator and friendly,” Jointer said. “It’s not about me and never will be. I will serve Brookhaven with compassion, integrity, fairness, honesty and open-mindedness.”

“My steadfast commitment to unity remains as we work together as one city, with common goals, sharing a vision for the future,” said Cox.