Thu., December 1, 2011 5:00am (EST)

Savannah Mayoral Race: GPB Interviews
By Orlando Montoya
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Updated: 3 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Savannah City Hall has been the scene of bitter politics this past year.  Two sitting members of the City Council, Edna Jackson and Jeff Felser, both promise to bring change.  But their messages and styles are very different.  (photo Ken Lund)
Savannah City Hall has been the scene of bitter politics this past year. Two sitting members of the City Council, Edna Jackson and Jeff Felser, both promise to bring change. But their messages and styles are very different. (photo Ken Lund)
Savannah mayoral candidate Jeff Felser relishes being an underdog.

The 48-year-old attorney and City Council member claimed that position when he came in second place in November's six-way ballot for the city's top elected position.

"People have a choice of whether it's going to be more of the same for the next four to eight years or they're going to take a chance and go forward," Felser told supporters. "We're in it to win it."

Felser is channeling a message of change.

He has tried at every step to tie his opponent to the outgoing administration of Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson.

That's given him another reputation: the dust-kicker.

In our interview, Jeff takes questions about that reputation, his role in this year's bitterly divisive city manager search and his ideas for business creation.

Savannah mayoral candidate Edna Jackson says, if there's one way she'll lose the election, it's by going negative.

The retired university administrator came in first place in the six-way race for the city's top post and remains the front-runner as she faces a head-to-head run-off with Jeff Felser.

Jackson has declined legions of opportunities to contrast herself with her opponent or to speak directly of her displeasure at the outgoing mayor, Otis Johnson.

She refers to both only obliquely and without using their names.

However, with support from the city's traditional king-makers -- the unions, the local Chamber of Commerce and the Savannah Morning News -- she can afford to run like an incumbent.

But it's precisely that sense of incumbency and a palpable sense of upset at City Hall that her detractors see as her main weakness.

"I'm not the incumbent," Jackson emphasized -- twice -- when I spoke to her on election night. "It is not about the mayor making all of the decisions. It's about all of us listening together and coming up with a consensus of where we want to see the city to go."

In our interview, Jackson takes questions about her reputation, the bitterly divisive city manager search and her plans for business creation.


Click the player below to stream the interview with Jeff Felser:

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Click the player below to stream the interview with Edna Jackson:

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