Jackie Cooper-Lewis

Jackie Cooper-Lewis explains to the Greenwood Voters League Wednesday night why she should represent Leflore County’s District 5 on the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School Board.

Jackie Cooper-Lewis has a robust array of work experience.

The current principal of St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School used to be an officer for the Greenwood Police Department and a school attendance officer for the Mississippi Department of Education, and she held various administrative positions with the former Leflore County School District.

Now she is running for the District 5 seat on the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School Board.

Cooper-Lewis talked about her experience and platform before about 20 listeners Wednesday night at a meeting of the Greenwood Voters League. Melvin Cook Sr., a District 5 election commissioner candidate, also spoke.

Cooper-Lewis said that as a board member, she would suggest the formation of a safety council composed of people within the school district and from the community to establish safety solutions. “The facilities must be safe,” she said.

Cooper-Lewis said she would like to reinforce collaboration with both the superintendent and other school board members. She also would like to develop transparency between the school district and the community.

“It is of utmost importance that the community stakeholders are informed of decisions that are transpired in the district. ... This is a public entity. You all have the right to know,” she said.

“When people are informed, there is not much room for speculation.”

Transparency would also entail Cooper-Lewis holding quarterly meetings to inform constituents of her district about new developments as well as inviting local and state elected officials to share news.

Regarding a school district bond issue, Cooper-Lewis said, “I am in support of the bond issue. But you cannot pass a bond issue by just putting it on the ballot. You’ve got to create some task force, and you’ve got to contact every voter in this county. They have got to be educated because a lot of people don’t know what it is, what it’s for. When you explain stuff to people, they can make better decisions.”

After the meeting, Cooper-Lewis said she would like to use bond money to build a state-of-the-art high school that would house all of the district’s high school students in one building.

Cooper-Lewis has three opponents: Niqua Graham-Brooks, an assistant center administrator for Gilliam Head Start; Dr. Curressia M. Brown, acting chair of Mississippi Valley State University’s Business Adminstration Department and an assistant professor of business; and George Ellis Jr., a former member of the now defunct Greenwood School Board.

They will all face each other during the Nov. 5 general election.  

Debra Tate Hibbler, the former election commissioner for District 5, resigned earlier this year to focus on her campaign  for Leflore County chancery clerk. That left a vacancy, and Cook said he was asked by District 5 Supervisor Robert Collins to fill in.

Cook said he’s enjoyed his appointment and has decided to run for a four-year term. His name will be the only one listed on the ballot for District 5 election commissioner.

Melvin Cook

Melvin Cook, who is seeking a full term on the Leflore County Election Commission, speaks to the Greenwood Voters League on Wednesday.

“You need someone in this position to have the integrity to ensure the elections are running clean, that all candidates are looked at and made sure they qualify” as well as ensuring that voting polls are running correctly, Cook said.

In addition, he said, the commission maintains the voter roll books and appoints poll managers for voting precincts.

“We don’t stop to think about the preparation that goes into preparing for that election,” he said. “That’s one of the roles of an election commissioner.”

The first election Cook worked as a member of the commission was the state House District 32 special election in March in which Solomon Osborne was elected.

Cook is a former administrator for various schools within Greenwood and Leflore County. He is currently a salesman at Cannon Motors.

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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