Several residents appeared before the Mayor and Board of Aldermen this week seeking relief from problems ranging from cars racing down their streets, and stray dogs running wild to guns regularly being fired in their neighborhoods.
One resident, who has been in her home on Charles Street for 32 years, said she is living in fear.
“I don’t want to get taken out by a bullet in the middle of the night,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to get down in the floor in the middle of the night because there’s shooting in the neighborhood.”
She said that speeding cars are another regular hazard with sports cars regularly racing down neighborhood streets.
“You can’t walk across the street,” she said. “It’s worse than living in a third world country.”
Another resident who lives on Maynie Street says there are numerous stray dogs plaguing her neighborhood.
“I have called the dog catcher, and he said it’s not his responsibility,” she said.
Ward 3 Alderman Sir Jonathan Rucker thanked the residents for sharing their concerns with the board.
“I’m glad you came,” Rucker said.
Rucker said he believes part of the problem is the response from police.
“We just had a shooting at Magnolia Apartment, and it was close to me,” Rucker said. “I know for a fact because I stayed out there that not one captain and not one detective showed up.”
Rucker said he thinks the city needs to face these problems.
“I’m tired of sugar coating it, we need to do something about this situation,” Rucker said. “This is not a game. This is people’s lives. How can we sit here and ignore the problems of the people, especially when we raised their taxes,” Rucker asked. “We’re not giving people the services they deserve, and we want to raise their taxes. I apologize to the citizens that you have to deal with this because we know what the problem is, but no one wants to deal with it.”
Mayor Diane Delaware said that she acknowledges there are problems in the city, but she said the problems aren’t limited to just a few neighborhoods.
“I want the citizens to know that it may appear that your area is the only area in Yazoo City that has issues, but those same problems exist where I live,” Delaware said. “We have a problem, and we are trying to fix those problems. All of these things are happening in our neighborhoods, and we want it to stop. There’s no question about that.”
Delaware said the city is working to reduce crime in the city and clean up neighborhoods.
“We have to address the things, and we are committed to doing the best that we possibly can,” Delaware said. “Yazoo won’t be Madison. We are Yazoo City. The only way we’re going to be Madison is to change everything about Yazoo City.”
Another complaint from residents involved abandoned homes and neglected properties.
Delaware said the city is focused on blighted properties now more than ever before, and the problems that exist are a result of years of neglect during previous administrations.
Delaware said that when she took office very few dilapidated properties had been addressed, and over 100 have been cleaned up during her tenure.
“I may not have torn them all down, but I’ve sure as hell torn down more than have ever been torn down before,” Delaware said. “I don’t expect anyone to be satisfied with that because I’m not satisfied with that. I know that no one want to live beside a house with trees growing up in it, but I am not a dictator. This is American, and we have to go through a process.”
Delaware said the process is sometimes derailed when an alderman knows someone involved.
“As soon as it’s somebody’s friend’s house, they’re not going to vote for that house to be torn down,” Delaware said. “That’s the truth.”
Delaware said that making change in Yazoo City isn’t easy because some of the same people calling for improvements will oppose new rules when the rules affect them or their friends.