Meridian mayoral candidate: ‘We’ve got the dumbest kids on the planet here in Mississippi’

Robert Ray
Robert Ray(WTOK)
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 1:05 PM EDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WLBT/WTOK) - Some shocking and uncomfortable moments happened at a political forum in Meridian Tuesday afternoon. One of the candidates running for mayor of Meridian did not have a lot of good things to say about school children.

“Meridian has the dumbest kids on the planet,” Republican candidate Robert Ray said.

The guests attending the mayoral forum appeared stunned by what Ray said when he was asked about spending stimulus funds. WTOK gave him a chance to explain.

“There’s nothing to clear up. We’ve got the dumbest kids on the planet here in Mississippi,” Ray said. “You can tell that in the schools. We are rated the lowest schools. What determines whether our kids are dumb or not?”

Ray said he would spend the money on the school system to improve education.

Democrat Jimmie Smith and independent candidate Weston Lindemann, currently Ward 5 councilman, joined Ray at the mayoral forum, which was hosted by East Mississippi Realtors.

The candidates also shared their top priorities, if elected.

“Well, one of the things is just getting people out there focused on cleaning the city,” Smith said. “Picking up trash, picking up debris. I am sure that there are people that are doing that every day, but they are not doing enough of that as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know if the city forgot that we still have clean-up to do even though there’s a company that’s picking up our trash.”

“I’m going to bring it in with my professional development process starting off with systemic racism training for police officers. This is what’s needed all over America,” Ray said. “Everybody in America is going to be coming to Meridian to get this particular process and they’re going to be bringing their millions of dollars to get it.”

“We’re going to reverse that declining trend in population. We are going to have new businesses in Meridian that employ people, 30 to 60 people at a time,” Lindemann said. “We’re going to have new things for people to do. The quality of life will increase. We’re going to have a revitalized historically African American business district downtown.”

If elected, Ray said he believes Meridian could be the richest city in the south.

“We’re going to be done fixed everything that needs to be fixed in Meridian. The schools, the roads, the people, everything in Meridian will be fixed,” Ray said. “Then, we’re going to put up other things to bring families to Meridian so we will have a valuable city where everyone can make money. Just like the realtors, they have to have people here who can buy expensive homes. I plan to have the city making at least $20 an hour so they can buy homes for their families. So, that’s what I plan to do.”

Smith says if he wins, great things will happen.

“Making sure that our city is clean. Making sure that we are making sure that our community is safe. Making sure that we listen to people,” Smith said. “I’ve heard people say they haven’t been listened to. We’re going to listen to folks. We will try to address every need that’s out there possible that we can address. It’s all about all of us. It’s not just about one of us. All of us are involved in this community,” Smith said.

Lindemann said he plans to prove to voters how qualified he is, despite being the youngest candidate.

“My understanding of the city’s departments and the city’s budget, I’ve highlighted many issues related to the city’s finances,” Lindemann said. “The things I have done in an oversight role have led to significant improvements in the way we do things. All of that experience, regardless of age is a tremendous help and benefit to the city of Meridian. My opponents don’t have the same recent experience to offer.”

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