LAGRANGE, Ga. — LaGrange could get its first black Mayor but it won’t happen without a fight.
Thursday, the Mayoral race peaked the interest of many during a candidate’s forum in LaGrange.
Running in this race, is current Mayor Jim Thornton and challenger Jimmy McCamey, Jr. During the forum, both candidates shed light on race relations.
“A certain segment of people that lived in District 1 which is mostly Caucasian people and in District 2 you mostly have African Americans and Hispanics…and when you have a city that has grown over the years to be separate then they don’t have a communication or dialogue in terms of race relations,” says McCamey, Jr.
“I never use the District 1/District 2 language in anything that I ever say because I have been a Mayor for the entire city for the next four years,” says Mayor Thornton.
If elected, McCamey, Jr., a college professor would be the first black Mayor of LaGrange.
He explains some of the feedback he’s gotten from the community.
“Several white people tell me you must be crazy to think you’re gonna be Mayor in the city of LaGrange, but I’ve had black people say it as well,” says McCamey, Jr.
Thornton explains what plans are in place in an effort to unify LaGrange.
“About four years ago starting a trust building initiative pattern off of work that’s been done in Richmond, Va. It’s been very successful over 250 participants,” says Mayor Thornton.
Thornton says that process has been working to overcome the historic division in LaGrange.
Both candidates also weighed in on crime.
“The murder rate and rape statistics have slightly decreased but we’ve seen an uptick in assault, robbery, burglary,” says Jimmy McCamey, Jr.
Thornton says under his watch he’s seen tremendous improvement.
“2015 we had 20 gang-related shootings in Lagrange, in 2016 we had 17. So far this year we’ve only had two,” says Mayor Thornton.
Another race underway in LaGrange is the seat for City Council District 1b.
Those candidates are: Jim Arrington, Luther Jones, and Chuck Pitts.
The election for that race and the mayoral race will take place on November 7th.