Selectman Donovan Hill, McComb, Mississippi

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In 2014, after winning against 16-year incumbent Melvin Joe Johnson, McComb, Mississippi, Selectman Donovan Hill was elected the second youngest official in the State of Mississippi. His platform is anchored in community pride and unity with a commitment to helping and serving his community and its residents.

As a young elected official and black male, what are your thoughts on the recent events involving law enforcement and underserved communities across the country?
I feel that, as elected officials, we have the obligation to protect our citizens. We have the authority to request proof from police officers exhibiting any type of questionable behavior. As an active supporter of the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement, I think it’s important that we understand we live in a nation that has placed a target on people of color. And I think it’s sad we live in a country that condones and tolerates this type of police behavior.

With this in mind, why did you decide to run for office?
I want to establish a better line of communication between residents and the police department in my community. I also realized there was a need to improve our city’s community, political, and education engagement with residents. This includes infrastructure, expanding recreational and educational facilities, and bring political awareness to the city’s residents.

McComb is (and has always been) a predominantly black community. Can you explain the significance of this?
McComb was on the front lines of the civil rights movement – in 1961, McComb was the location of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s (SNCC) first voter registration project in the state. We’ve also had a major impact on blues and soul music as the birthplace of artists like Bo Diddley, King Solomon Hill, and Little Freddie King.

What advice do you have for newly elected officials and/or recently appointed city staff?
Do not be afraid to follow your instincts. And remember – just like the people you represent, you are a citizen as well, so keep that in mind when crafting legislation.

What is the best part of serving your community?
Being able to communicate the activities of City Hall to residents in an attempt to bridge the knowledge gap and increase awareness.

If you weren't doing what you do now, what would it be?
I'd be involved in youth and community development.

If there were a book written about your life, what would the title be?
It would be titled "Uplift".