LaRita Cooper-Stokes / File photo/The Clarion-Ledger
Jacksonís Ward 3 City Councilwoman LaRita Cooper-Stokes is looking for a job change.
Sheís qualified to run for Hinds County Court Judge in Subsection 2, the post currently held by longtime Judge Houston Patton.
That general election is set for Nov. 4. With the exception of Justice Court judges, judges in the state do not run for election by political party, although Stokes was elected to the Jackson City Council in 2012 as a Democrat. Houston, who is retiring, was elected to office in 1989.
LaRita Cooper-Stokes is married to Hinds County District 5 Supervisor Kenneth Stokes. Sheís well-known in Jackson for wearing eye-catching, wide-brimmed church hats. Cooper-Stokes is out of town and unavailable for comment, her husband said today.
County Court judges are required to have law degrees. Cooper-Stokes is a graduate of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University with active status from the Mississippi Bar.
Cooper-Stokes won a hard-fought race for her Jackson City Council seat in 2012, having to win three separate elections to take Kenneth Stokesí seat after he was elected to the Board of Supervisors. Her first victory didnít give her a true majority, her runoff win was thrown out by a jury, and her third win only guaranteed her 11 months in office before the next election, which she won with 53 percent of the vote.
Among major issues that have come up so far in her tenure on the council: Cooper-Stokes opposed the proposed 1-cent sales tax increase, to go toward shoring up the cityís roads and infrastructure, approved recently by voters. She voted against then-new Mayor Chokwe Lumumbaís 2013-14 budget, earlier citing concerns that a water rate increase would hurt residents who already canít afford their water bills.
She was absent from the Sept. 5, 2013 meeting at which council members approved increasing city taxes to pay for street paving, drainage projects and upgrades to JATRAN facilities. She was absent from the councilís March 25, 2013 meeting when members, with just enough present for a quorum, voted 3-1 to borrow $10 million to $12 million for a major street paving program. And, she and two other council members were absent in September 2012 when the council voted 4-0 to approve then-Mayor Harvey Johnsonís 2012-13 budget.
She was absent in October 2012 when the council narrowly approved a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency, agreeing to spend somewhere around $400 million to rebuild its sewage system over the coming years and pay a fine.
She voted yes in January 2013 when the council passed an ordinance requiring cyclists of all ages in Jackson to wear a helmet when they ride or face a $75 fine, providing an amendment that said the city will give out free helmets provided by the state Department of Rehabilitative Services to those who canít afford them. And in October 2012, she voted against a $90 million water and sewer project, worth one-fourth of the city's total budget, that gained the councilís approval.
To contact Ruth Ingram, call 601-961-7303.