Candidates for statewide and local offices were in attendance at last night’s forum held at the Warren County Courthouse. About 75 people attended the event sponsored by the Vicksburg Branch of the NAACP, Vicksburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Blacks in Government.
Statewide candidates on hand were Addie Lee Green (D), who is running for state treasurer, state Sen. Willie Simmons (D), vying for the position of Central District transportation commissioner and Brent Bailey (R), who is running for Central District public service commissioner.
The forum began with the three candidates for statewide office speaking for two minutes each highlighting their plans and why they were the best candidate for the job. Candidates for county prosecutor and sheriff then laid out their plans. Each supervisor candidate was then given two minutes to outline what they will do if elected. All 20 candidates were held to a strict time limit to make their points. That included incumbent state Rep. Oscar Denton, who is running unopposed. Nonetheless, he briefly addressed and thanked the organizers and voters in attendance.
The main feature of the evening was a question and answer session. The majority of the questions were directed toward the Supervisor candidates.
The first question put before the Supervisor candidates was, “Do you support the Leader in Me program?”
The program “teaches 21st-century leadership and life skills to students, and creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader,” according to its website.
Earlier in the year District 1 Supervisor John Arnold and District 2 Supervisor William Banks voted down a request from the Vicksburg-Warren School District for an additional $100,000 for the Leader in Me program. Arnold was the first up and explained why he voted against it, saying, “I support the Leader in Me program but the funding request was made after the budget was complete.” Supervisor Banks mirrored Arnold’s comments and said that while he supports the Leader in Me program, “The funding request was made late in the year after the budget was complete and the funds had been allocated.”
All the candidates for supervisor chimed in their support for the Leader in Me program.
The next question centered on the condition of the retail centers around town. “Retail is dying all around town,” an attending said, “What are you going to do to improve it?”
Most candidates talked around the issue and the importance of buying local. It wasn’t until District 4 candidate Jeff Holland spoke that any of them addressed on-line shopping. District 5 candidate Kelle Barfield also talked about the impact of on-line shopping and what she does at her retail business, Lorelei Books, to attract consumers to spend with her.
The last question asked of the Supervisor candidates was, “How will you improve quality of life in the county?”
A wide variety of answers were offered including District 2 candidate Stan Collins talking about the need for jobs in Warren County. Most focused on the golf course in Bovina and opening the Old Highway 80 Bridge for recreational use.
The Forum concluded with a prayer and a group photo.
Pictured, from left to right. Front row: David Sharp, William Banks, Addie Lee Green, Oscar Denton, Kelle Barfield, Shawn Jackson, Stephen McMillin, Jeff Holland, Stan Collins. Middle Row: Brent Bailey, Ken Harper, Martin Pace, John Arnold, Ricky Johnson, Joseph Stubbs, Ed Herring (partially shown with apologies). Back row: Richard George, Lee Kennedy, Marty Crevitt (partially shown with apologies). Not shown: Willie Simmons, who left prior to the photo being taken.