Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


March 1, 2013

William Igbokwe, 23, Jacksonville's third mayoral candidate, is looking to unite local government more with its citizens


However you look at it, newly-proclaimed Jacksonville mayoral candidate William Igbokwe, 23, is making history.

The young Igbokwe — who comes across in interviews as candid, thoughtful and well-spoken — filed for the office Thursday afternoon. He is the first African American to run for mayor in Jacksonville. He will be running against two mayoral opponents — which makes his only the third three-way race to take place in the history of the city.

Additionally, Igbokwe is probably the youngest candidate in Jacksonville history as well. But he's a big fan of uniting youth culture with government.

"The youth should not be disenfranchised from the political process," Igbokwe said in a college magazine interview a little over a year ago.

Igbokwe is a 2012 graduate of the University of Texas in Austin with a major in political communication and a 2008 graduate of Jacksonville High School. He is looking to shake things up in a positive way and close the gap between local government and the community.

In the election, he will face incumbent Mayor Kenneth Melvin — who, at 72, is nearly 50 years his senior.

His other opponent is popular restauranteur Rob Gowin, 44, who also has expressed a desire for a greater connection between the city and its residents.

The last contested race for mayor was the previous two-way May 2011 mayoral election in which Melvin faced off against opponent Jeff Smith. Melvin was victorious by a slim, 31-vote margin.

However, the last three-way mayoral race took place in 1977. The only one before that — the very first one, was in 1955, according to Betty Thompson, Jacksonville city secretary.

Igbokwe is a well-known thinker, publicly recognized for his published opposition to the Jacksonville ISD's dress code while he was a student, according to published reports in the Jacksonville Daily Progress.

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