Councilwoman Deborah Delgado has been sitting on the Hattiesburg City Council since she was elected in 2001. The councilwoman is passionate about raising minimum wage, criminal justice reform and strengthening the Hattiesburg community.
Delgado is passionate about the community becoming aware of its history and the struggles Hattiesburg has faced in the past. Her most prominent cause has been to redevelop Ward 2. Delgado has addressed the issues with Ward 2 with the community, including flooding and the high poverty rate due to the aftereffects of Katrina.
“The area has suffered from lack of investment, primarily because it was seen as a burden rather than an asset due to the flooding,” Delgado said.
Delgado has also developed ideas for an innovation club to promote entrepreneurship in the Hattiesburg area. She feels passionate about raising the minimum wage to allow employees to have a livable income. Delgado’s goal as councilwoman is to provide a better quality of life for those throughout the community as well as supply mentor programs for individuals lacking guidance in their households.
“Absence of opportunity and preparation needs to change,” Delgado said. “Young people need training and to be prepared for more jobs.”
Delgado firmly believes in becoming educated about how the Hattiesburg community began. Delgado advises the Hattiesburg community to read about the past hardships many have faced in the Deep South, specifically the history of African Americans within Hattiesburg.
“We started behind everybody else and there were laws placed to prevent us from advancing as people,” Delgado said. “I think that our challenge in this community is that we don’t know our history and we need to acknowledge things that have happened and understand as a community the pride of black people.”
Glenda Funchess, a lawyer and long-time follower of Delgado’s career, said that Delgado has the community’s best interests in mind. Funchess believed that Delgado has benefitted the Hattiesburg community greatly since first becoming a councilwoman. She agreed that Delgado has handled Ward 2 wonderfully and has dealt with certain challenges along the way in a graceful manner. Funchess also appreciated Delgado’s efforts in being an activist for the African American community.
“Councilwoman Delgado being a child of the Civil Rights Movement and having participated in the 1964 Freedom Summer Project at the age of 12 is a living testament of one of the purposes of Freedom School, which was to ensure that young people knew their civic responsibilities and take an active role therein,” Funchess said.
Throughout the 19 years during her tenure, Delgado has improved the Hattiesburg area greatly, specifically Mobile Street, according to Funchess. While Delgado has handled it well, Funchess does believe that it is unfair to the councilwoman to supervise so many areas at once.
“Councilwoman Delgado has the burden of serving about 5 areas that are unique and diverse in their community makeup and have absolutely nothing in common,” Funchess said. “That is certainly a very difficult task, but she has definitely handled it very well. “
Funchess looks forward to Delgado’s plan to rebuild the fire station on Arledge Avenue as well as her objective to restore Timberton Park. In addition to these, Funchess looks forward to seeing Delgado play a prominent role in bettering the Hattiesburg community through conversation and action.
“I hope she will continue to be an advocate for her constituents that she represents in Ward 2,” Funchess said. “She is not afraid to stand alone on any issue if she truly believes that it is not in the best interest of her constituents.”
While Delgado has impacted many throughout the community, she has many supporters who are touched by her passionate insight on the importance of the community and historical context of living in Hattiesburg as a minority.
Audrey Arguello, a junior psychology major, has followed Delgado upon recently moving to the Hattiesburg community. While staying updated on local politicians, Arguello feels that Delgado has her best interests at heart, especially as a minority.
“The impact Delgado is making on the community is astounding, especially for minority women like myself,” Arguello said. “I loved her interview with Signature magazine, it urged me to stay updated on her political career.”
Arguello said she feels close to Delgado’s causes, specifically her passion for criminal justice reform. Arguello said she believes that upon higher education and better mentor programs, Delgado is allowing parents to be present within their households, thus preventing the increase of foster children.
“By bettering the life of our children, she’s making way for a better future,” Arguello said. “She’s making strides to help those in poverty and to better our community as well.”
While Delgado has made strides towards more disputed or controversial issues, not everyone has agreed with her opinions or decisions. Her stance on many issues has caused both positive and negative reactions, but Delgado continues to remain optimistic.
“You don’t always make everybody happy,” Delgado said. “I’ve had positive responses, but there’s always some negatives that occur with causes I cannot support personally. At the end of the day, you have to be honest with yourself and make a decision based on what you think is best.”