Lucedale's mayor-elect plans to bridge city's racial divide

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

LUCEDALE, MS (WLOX) - "Congratulations" is all grocery store manager Doug Lee said he's been hearing lately. This will be his fourth time serving as mayor of Lucedale, and it was a close victory.

"Most people say I don't smile. I don't. But I smiled that time because I know there was 17 people that made a change in my life," Lee said about winning the mayoral election.

Lee has been out of politics for about eight years. But he said he's now ready and energized to make positive changes in his city. One of his ideas is upgrading the small town's look.

"There are no sidewalks whatsoever at this end of town to take people from business to business," Lee said. "It's just about improving the quality of life for the people here, but it might entice more retail businesses to locate here."

Also on the mayor-elect's to do list is shaping up the police department. He said it's time police provide better service to citizens.

"You get complaints that somebody didn't talk to me right, somebody did this wrong and they stop me for no reason. In big cities you hear the word 'profiling,' but I don't like that type of stuff. It just goes back to treating people the way you want to be treated."

The mounting racial division is another issue Lee has to confront.  Recently, the case involving high school football star Billie Joe Johnson brought the area's racial tensions into the national spotlight. The black student died after a white officer stopped him for a traffic violation. A grand jury ruled that Johnson killed himself.

"The mayor's office will have an open relationship or open door policy to another agency that wants to come in and look at this incident," Lee said about the Johnson case.

The mayor-elect said his goal is to erase the negative and focus on the things that will make Lucedale a better place to live. Lee said he also wants to form a better working relationship between the city and county officials.

Doug Lee is currently the manager at Wayne Lee's Grocery Store in Lucedale.

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