The Vicksburg Daily News sent a set of seven questions to all five candidates running for office in the municipal election. We will publish their answers in the order in which they are received.
1.) Tell us who you are, your Vicksburg story and why you have chosen to run for office.
Hi, my name is Daryl Hollingsworth, and I’m a builder, contractor, entrepreneur, businessman, father, and grandfather located in Vicksburg, MS. I want to help Vicksburg reach its fullest potential by becoming your new mayor.
I moved to Vicksburg in April of 1984 and truly believe Vicksburg possesses the ability to be one of the greatest cities in which to enjoy life, raise your children, and participate in a community that is incredibly fruitful; however, we need to keep moving Vicksburg forward together as a community.
During my time in Vicksburg I committed 24 years of service as a welder/machinist for Entergy, and while working here I found a yearning to restore old and historic buildings. Growing up with a father who was in the construction business, I acquired an extremely useful skill set for building as well as a vision for seeing the potential of a renovation before beginning the process. I decided to put this skillset to use when I purchased the buildings at 1517 and 1519 Washington Street in 2001. During the renovation of this building I found a strong desire and met that desire with a passion for giving antique buildings a new purpose. This building was renovated to be what I call a Mixed Use building as it acts as an apartment building, a beauty salon, and an office space. This idea of a Mixed Use building, I’ve discovered, is truly the key to Downtown Vicksburg.
I currently hold many offices here in the community. I act as the President of Hollingsworth, Inc. and for 20 years I’ve worked as a Real Estate Broker and Developer. I own and operate several companies here in Vicksburg, including: Back Door Lofts, LLC, Hidden Charms, LLC, The Watermark Vicksburg, The Chopping Block Vicksburg, and Clean Up Vicksburg. I have also contributed my expertise as a developer and builder to multiple companies here in Vicksburg, including: The Valley, The Warehouse, The Audubon Place, and Courtyard Lofts. Before withholding my name from nomination last year in 2020, I contributed my service and held various roles such as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Main Street Board. I have invested an enormous amount of time, money, and commitment into our beautiful Downtown, and as a result, I believe we have come to a point where this area of our city is thriving and no longer requires my acute attention. I can now point my focus to other areas and attributes of our community and infrastructure where extreme attention is necessary to move Vicksburg forward.
2.) On the unsolved murders and our crime issue, what is your plan to improve the situation?
The leadership in our police department was dismantled four year ago. Four years ago our current Mayor ran on the promise that if he could get a second vote, he would get crime under control. He got his second vote, now our police department has gone from a peak of 87 police officers to currently having 35-40 full time police officers and around 9 part time officers. It is ridiculous to think you can properly police a City of our geographical make up with the number of officers we currently have. There are shifts when there are only 3 officers on duty at a time. We have to recruit qualified full time officers to our City and provide them with strong leadership.
3.) Taxes and Spending. What are your priorities and how will you increase tax revenue and allocate spending?
The first thing we will do is look at the books and visually look at the contracts to see what has been spent and what is on hand. We have to have full accountability. I have no intention of raising taxes. This City has a 31 million dollar budget, and I believe that is sufficient to run a city of this size.
4.) COVID-19 has hit every segment of our lives. What will you do to improve the situation including how will you start bringing jobs back, help businesses start thriving again, and how would you do this in a safe manner?
COVID-19 was undoubtedly the biggest impact on our lives in 2020. I truly believe the key to controlling it is education. We have to educate our population on the vaccine so that they can make an educated decision of whether or not they want to receive the vaccine. If we have homebound citizens that want the vaccine then we need to get the vaccine to them, or provide rides for citizens’ to vaccine sites.
5.) What are your plans to grow Vicksburg?
Well, according to Mayor Flaggs, I’m the tax abatement kid, and that’s because it works. In order to grow our downtown, the city partnered with the county under the Leyens administration to allow for tax abatement for 7 years on investments of $150,000 or more on commercial property. This has been a tool I have used. The City and County have recently partnered together to increase the opportunities for the tax abatement program in the central business district and the historic preservation district to residential property owners. I think that in order to grow our city population we need to allow any repairs or new construction that reaches this level of spending to enjoy the same privileges in any part of the City. That being said, we have to fix our infrastructure. I am the only candidate that, being a general contractor, can take an idea, put it on a set of plans, and get it executed for the least amount of money. The definition of infrastructure, per Webster’s dictionary, is the underlying foundation or basic framework of a system or organization. We have to improve our infrastructure to entice new business and stop our declining population.
6.) What other areas of focus will be on your priority list starting with your top priority?
Whereas, I believe our infrastructure is the top priority, we have to get Crime under control and we have already discussed that above. We also have to get our youth programs back up and going to full capacity. We need to implement our youth programs and provide mentoring for our youth. We have to train our City employees and provide them with the proper tools to perform their job efficiently and effectively. To do this we need a four year apprenticeship program. This way we will not only be providing them with a job, but a life skill. When I say let’s provide them with the proper tools, I mean that literally. We have to tackle the water, sewer and gas lines. We have to be proactive and not reactive on our utilities. On the surface it appears that we are only concerned with our water when there is a crisis and it is unavailable. We have to be PROACTIVE. The City is no different than a business. Would you tolerate that behavior from a business, or would you move on, like so many residents and businesses have chosen to do (declining population)?
7.) What else do voters need to know about you and what you will do for the city?
I’m going to end the backdoor meetings and the smoke & mirrors. I want to hear what our citizens actually have to say. My administration is going to be as transparent as possible. We are going to move Vicksburg forward together as a community and make it the greatest city in the state of Mississippi.