It was with great sadness rather than amusement that I read the results of a recent mayoral election in Alligator, Mississippi. The residents have elected their first black mayor. Robert Fava, mayor for the last 30 years, has been defeated by Tommie “Tomaso” Brown. Sixty four people voted and Mr. Brown won by 10 votes.
Mr. Fava’s “30 years of dedicated service” was defeated by Mr. Brown’s “change” campaign inspired by Barack Obama, to whom he gives total credit. Seventy-one year old Fava readily admits that he is ready for change also.
Seems to me the place has changed quite a bit already. Once a thriving little community farmed by European immigrants, predominately Italian-Americans, the town began to ease into decline when the schools closed. That was followed by the churches, stores, lumber yard, blacksmiths, and doctor’s offices. The 1950’s saw the hotel close and getting there by train was no longer a possibility. At one time, Alligator was its destination 8 times a day.
The stores are boarded up, vacant lots are overgrown or a camp for those who live in trailers. Vandalism runs high as does liquor consumption and pot use. It’s not unusual to have a 2-3 am knock on your door for weed.
Today three quarters of the population of 220 are black. There are but a few third-generation Italian-Americans left. Those that are left are being taunted by “mooning” black youth heralding their new black mayor.
Mayor Brown seems to have a long way to go to fulfill his campaign promises. How will be build the swimming pool and recreation center? He wants more people to come to Alligator. He want people to be comfortable with much better living conditions. As he mingles with the youth of the community, he hopes to understand their problems.
I can think of several initiatives for a solution to the problems that plague this little Mississippi town; but none of these conclusions have occurred to Mr. Brown. What, you may ask, does he plan? Tommie Brown believes that small towns depend on government funding and that’s what he is seeking.
See You Later Alligator, After a While Crocodile!