On Tuesday, Sept. 24, students at Savannah State University gathered at the Howard Jordan Building, Torian Auditorium for the 2019 SSU Mayoral Candidates Forum presented by Savannah State’s Student Government Association and the Savannah chapter of the NAACP.
Mayor Eddie Deloach and candidates Alderman Van Johnson, and former Sen. Regina Thomas came to speak on the importance of Savannah State and how the university is a part of the overall vision for the city of Savannah.
Moderators Prof. Jamal Toure & SGA Vice President Ian Sanvill had questions for the candidates in regard to the school’s well-being and safety including school liability, community policing solutions, economic solutions for the school, and campus safety. As candidates stood before the community and student body each representative gave their stance on these topics.
Deloach said to keep SSU open he sees the importance of having small schools around. “The city gets $185 million having the school here and we can get things done with that.” Deloach said he plans to keep SSU alive and keep it improving, “We have to be the advocate.”
“The control is at the regent and state level. It is our job to speak up about what we need in the workforce,” Deloach said. He promised to get in touch with the chief of the Savannah State Police Department to provide better policing, and to partner with the school for employment opportunities after graduation.
Johnson said he believes in order to maintain the viability of the university he said, “Savannah State has to be the forefront of the city mind, keep students and opportunity here.” With strategical & intentional partnerships established, Johnson said he believes this is what will keep SSU alive and improving. “Our police chief has to have a relationship with students,” he said.
Johnson said Savannah State has a large impact on the economy in the city, “You can make something real hot and something real not.” Businesses give discounts to SCAD and Johnson pushes for the same thing for Savannah State students.
Thomas took a more personal approach on her stances on school viability, economics, and policing within this university. Thomas said she’s been fighting for SSU for 13 years and she has already done many things to improve this university. To maintain viability at SSU, Thomas said, “When we have problems keep it in the institution and not to the public.”
She said that if students get jobs in their field upon graduation this helps keeps the school alive and improving. For community policing solutions, she said, “I have sent letters and have met with the president to discuss these issues and have sat down with the police department.”
After closing statements, student Angelina Vance, a political science major, said, “Outside of his shallow but appreciated attempts to connect with the students through our modern colonialism, Van Johnson’s platform was clear and concise, he has my vote.”
India Cade, also a student at Savannah State, said “I believe all candidates had strong platforms and a lot of information but there was one candidate that stood out to me and it was Regina Thomas. She was realistic and the most memorable.”