Anthony Leonard Thompson has announced a run for the mayor’s office in Mobile. (Courtesy of Anthony Thompson)
Mobile has a third mayoral candidate in the mix, with political newcomer Anthony Leonard Thompson trying to bring an evolving focus on public health issues to the forefront.
Thompson enters a clash of heavyweights: On Saturday, former Mayor Sam Jones formally announced that he is battling to take his old job back from incumbent Sandy Stimpson, who unseated him in 2013. Jones and Stimpson both have abundant name recognition and the proven ability to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Thompson, by contrast, launched a GoFundMe.com fundraising drive on June 10 which, as of Thursday afternoon, had yet to receive its first donation toward a $250,000 goal.
“I know that I’m running against people that have a lot of resources that I don’t have,” Thompson said. But he said he’s trying to offer a new kind of candidacy, one where his platform is driven by public feedback, rather than being tightly defined by himself and an inner circle of advisors. He hopes to translate that into a generational shift in governance, he said.
“My biggest challenge, I believe, is going to be showing baby boomers and Generation X that the millennials and Generation Y actually can take over and do a good job,” he said. “And do a better job, and fix the mistakes of the past. That’s going to be the biggest challenge, I believe, because I’ve received a lot of ageism.”
Thompson 32, is a licensed practical nurse who received his LPN certificate from McFatter Technical College, based in the Miami area. He described himself as a Mobile native who grew up in Florida, visiting Mobile in the summers and holidays. He moved back into the area about two years ago.
Thompson’s slogan, “Make Mobile Healthier,” reflects a focus on public health and public safety. On the Facebook page promoting his candidacy, Thompson says Mobile needs “fresh young leadership that will respond with urgency to the current HIV epidemic silently killing our children, family, & loved ones.”
The brief announcement goes on to say that Thompson “will not prioritize roads over lives or respond in silence” as Mobile “continues having the highest number of new HIV cases in the state year after year.” The statement also mentions crime, substance abuse, social unrest and poverty as concerns.
Last fall, the Alabama Department of Public Health launched a new HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, saying that Mobile County ranked second only to Jefferson County in the number of HIV cases. Madison, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa counties also were among the counties with the highest number of new cases.
Thompson said his platform has evolved since he made that initial statement, however. He has been seeking feedback from potential voters, and their responses have prompted him to broaden his focus.
“I’m just not referring solely to the body, I’m referring to the health of the community,” he said. “The mental health, the economic health … I don’t want people to think that health care is limited to one particular avenue.”
Where other people might see inexperience, Thompson sees an opportunity to start from a fresh sheet of paper. “If President Obama had listened to other people, he would have not run, because he was told that he was inexperienced,” he said. “I don’t think that youth is the best criteria. I think the best criteria for a candidate is what their priorities are and the way they are able to think.”
“What I’ve been doing, I’ve actually been going around with my notebook, interviewing various people, asking what their concerns are,” he said, “and I’ve been focusing and re-prioritizing some of the things that I thought were really, really, really important.” Among other things, he’s begun to put a new emphasis on fighting crime.
His vision is that if elected, he would continue that process, using a leadership style that would be transparent and driven by constituent concerns. “It’s an evolution,” he said. “I’m not going to be static.”
More information about Thompson’s candidacy can be found at www.electanthonythompson4mayor.com and his campaign’s Facebook page.
Municipal elections will be held on Aug. 22. The official qualifying period for candidates runs from July 5 to July 18. Aug. 7 is the last day for voters to register, and Aug. 21 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot. Full information can be found at the city’s website.
State Rep. Oliver Robinson solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars from some of Alabama’s biggest business interests for his non-profit and for-profit businesses.