With a crowd of about 300 well-wishers in attendance, Savannah Mayor Edna Branch Jackson opened her campaign headquarters and officially began her campaign for re-election on August 26, 2015. The supporters represented a diverse cross section of the Savannah community. Business leaders, neighborhood leaders, medical professionals, elected offi- cials, clergy, and grassroots supporters made up the lively crowd. The campaign headquarters is at 7 East DeRenne Avenue.
Jackson is the only African American female to serve as Mayor of Savannah. Two white men have announced plans to run against her.
After the group was led in prayer by Bishop Willie Ferrell of the Royal Church of Christ, Campaign Co-chairman Scott Center welcomed the group and presented Mayor Jackson. Center, a long-time community leader and businessman, is President of The World Trade Center Savannah.
During his introduction, Center talked about his 45-year relationship with Jackson. He commended her for her political and personal courage, and said that everyone who knows her understands that no matter what the opposition says or does, “Edna will remain positive and truthful.”
During her remarks, Jackson said that her re-election campaign will emphasize her experience, proven leadership ability, the on-going efforts to combat crime, and the City’s outstanding record accomplishments during her first four years as Mayor.
She repeated Center’s proclamation that she will run a “clean campaign.” Jackson said Savannah has experienced unprecedented economic growth during her first four years and under the leadership of the current City Council.
She said that during the past four years, she and the other members of City Council have moved Savannah from 145th place on the list of the Nation’s Best Places for Business and Careers to 78th. “We will continue to work to make Savannah number one on this list,” she said.
Mayor Jackson talked about her commitment to keeping City Government accountable to the citizens and emphasized a long list of accomplishments under her leadership. The applause was robust when she thanked the ministers and other community leaders who helped maintain peace in Savannah during a “period of community stress” after an unfortunate incident in West Savannah.
Jackson recognized the members of City Council in attendance. Mayor Pro Tem Van Johnson as well as Aldermen Mary Osborne, Estella Shabazz, John Hall, and Tony Thomas were present to show their support. The City of Savannah is governed by a mayor, two aldermen that are elected at large, and six aldermen elected from districts. All members of City Council are seeking re-election, except Post 2 Alderman-at-large Tom Bordeaux.
Mayor Jackson has served as a member of City Council since 2000. She has also served on the Board of Directors of the National League of Cities, and is former President of the National League of Cities Women in Municipal Government. She is currently First Vice President of the Georgia Municipal Association and Chair of the GMA Legislative Policy Council.
Mayor Jackson grew up in Savannah and graduated from Beach High School.
She earned her bachelor’s degree at Savannah State University and her masters from a joint degree program at Armstrong State and Savannah State. She served as an administrator at Savannah State for approximately 30 years.
Mayor Jackson has received numerous citations and awards for her professional and civic activities including: Georgia’s 100 Most Influential Leader 2015, Georgia Trends 2013, 2014, & 2015, Most Influential Georgian, Savannah State University 2014 Award of Excellence for Leadership, Savannah Technical College Tribute to Community STARs Award 2013, Emancipation Day Leadership Award 2012, Savannah State University Richard R. Wright Award 2012, Bennett University Outstanding Woman in Civil Rights, Savannah Civil Rights Museum Unsung Heroes Award, Tom Joyner Hardest Working Community Advocate Award, NAACP Freedom Award, Delta Sigma Theta Alfreta Adams Community Service Award, Alpha Kappa Alpha Mozella Collier Volunteer Service Award, and the Omega Psi Phi Citizen of the Year Award.
In addition to Center, Jackson’s campaign leadership team includes Co-Chairperson Dr. Freddie Gilyard, a retired Savannah public school administrator, and Campaign Treasurer Mrs. Juanita Adams, a retired Savannah State University Professor.