This past Saturday I was asked (by Harvey Myrick) to introduce candidates for statewide office at Grilling On The River. Fourteen candidates showed up for the opportunity to speak with potential voters in the upcoming primary (August 2nd) and general election (November 8th). Each candidate that spoke made a $50 donation to the Columbus/Lowndes Humane Society.
The first candidate to speak was Forrest Allgood, who is the incumbent district attorney for the Mississippi Circuit Court of the 16th District (Lowndes, Clay, Oktibbeha and Noxubee County). Allgood is running as a Democrat and was the only DA candidate to speak. Allgood thanked the crowd for the privilege to serve as their DA.
The next candidate to speak was Mike Tagert, who was recently elected as Northern District Transportation Commissioner in a special election to replace the late Commissioner Bill Minor. Tagert is running as a Republican for the 4-year term (I can’t tell you how many people opined about what a great job Tagert has done thus far. RW). Tagert thanked the crowd for the opportunity to serve and asked for their consideration again in the upcoming election.
Dannie Reed, a candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture running as a Republican, from Ackerman, spoke to the crowd next. Reed told the crowd that he had agriculture degrees from
Mississippi State and has served as a county agent and statewide extension worker for 30 years all over the state. “You need someone qualified. You need a commissioner that is well-educated, well-practiced and that will protect your interest in your economy…and that will build jobs in our state” Reed told the crowd.
Joel Gill, also a candidate for Agriculture Commissioner running as a Democrat, stepped up to the podium next to speak. Gill, from Pickens (where he serves as mayor), told the crowd he had 42 years of experience in the livestock field. Gill also told the crowd that he was elected mayor of Pickens by garnering 78% of the vote in an 80% black population town. “This race is not so much about Democratic or Republican values” the Democrat told the crowd, “it’s about who can best lead Mississippi forward into the future.”
The next statewide office position was State Treasurer (current State Treasurer Tate Reeves is a candidate for Lt. Governor) and the first candidate to speak was Lucien Smith, from Jackson, running as a Republican. Smith told the crowd that his parents and family were from the Golden Triangle. “I think we’ve been fortunate the last 7 years to have a governor (Haley Barbour) who understands that you’ve got to manage the states’ finances conservatively, to keep taxes down and get them lower, and bring more and better jobs to Mississippi”, Smith said.
Also running as a Republican for State Treasurer was Lynn Fitch, from Madison. Fitch told the crowd that the office of state treasurer was a very important and critical job. “The reason I’m running is because I’m the most qualified for this job. I currently run a state agency for Governor Barbour (The state Personnel Board). I’ve also been counsel for the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives. It all means that I have all the elements and qualifications to be your next state treasurer.” Fitch told the crowd.
Lee Yancey, also a Republican candidate for State Treasurer, was the next candidate to address the crowd. Yancey, from Brandon, told the gathering that Terry Brown was wearing him out in the state senate (both are current state senators, Brown from Columbus). Yancey said he was originally from Ripley. “Mississippi needs a state treasurer that knows what they are doing”, said Yancey. “For the past four years I’ve been in the state senate serving on the Finance Committee, the Ethics Committee and about seven other committees. I’m a social and fiscal conservative!”
The next candidate to take the podium was for the office of Attorney General. Steve Simpson, running as a Republican from Gulfport, told the crowd that he has been serving as the Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety for the last 3 years. “I’ve been the commissioner over the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the state crime laboratory, the Mississippi Medical Examiners Office, Mississippi Homeland Security…it goes on and on”, Simpson told them.
The next candidate was Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who is currently running unopposed for his office for another term. Hosemann, a Republican from Jackson, told the crowd that the secretary of state position was very important because they handle the elections. “This year you get to vote on voter I.D. and i want everyone of you to vote on voter I.D. so we can have a meaningful, common sense voter I.D. in Mississippi. It’s time to move a step forward on having free and fair elections here,” Hosemann told the crowd.
The next state office candidate was for the office of Lt. Governor. Tate Reeves, who is serving as the current State Treasurer, is running for Lt. Gov. as a Republican. “For the next four months of this campaign, what you’re gonna hear from me is why I ought to be your next Lt. Governor, not why someone else ought not to be” said Reeves. “And the reason I should be the next Lt. Gov. in our state, is because I don’t view it as someone who just manages the senate or someone who simply resides over the senate. The Lt. Gov. in our state, in my opinion, needs to be a leader. And a leader for our state. And I have the experience as the true fiscal conservative in the race.”
The first governor candidate was Ron Williams (same name as mine but, no, we’re not any relation). Williams is running as a Republican. “I’m gonna cut to the chase” said Williams, “our state is
3.7 billion dollars in debt. That’s your debt, that’s my debt…these little children here…that’s their debt. We’re taxed at every corner…and there’s a party in Jackson. That party’s been going on for quite some time. And if you’ll elect me as your governor…the party is over!” Williams added. “We must take the burden of administrative work off of our teachers, and put our teachers back to teaching.”
Governor candidate Dave Dennis was next up to the stage. Dennis, from Pass Christian and also running as a Republican, told the crowd that he’s a private sector contractor who has never ran for public office. “But I can tell you…people want private sector leadership” said Dennis. “You’ve got a choice in the Republican Primary of a career politician – a guy that’s never had a job – or a person that’s gone out and worked everyday of their lives, employing people, done 6,000 jobs – that’s who we are. We represent what our founding fathers suggest, and that’s private sector leadership. You do your life, you do your job, you do your public service and then you come back…that’s who we are!” Dennis told told the crowd.
The final gubernatorial candidate was Clarksdale attorney and businessman Bill Luckett. Luckett, running as a Democrat, told the crowd of his co-ownership of Ground Zero Blues Club with Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman. “Back when I was looking at old buildings in downtown Clarksdale about 20 years ago, I used Columbus, Ms. as the model for what I was doing there. You’ve got some great folks here in Columbus.” said Luckett. “And a beautiful downtown. Our town of Clarksdale was eroding and decaying. I took an article in the newspaper into our city/county planning commission (about Columbus) and said, ‘we need to be doing this in downtown Clarksdale’. They gave me the green light and I started building out downtown and putting upstairs apartments. One thing led to another. My good friend, Morgan Freeman -my business partner – and I decided to open Ground Zero Blues Club. We did that in 2001. We also opened a fine-dining restaurant (Madidi’s). We located them on either end of Delta Avenue. At that time you wouldn’t have found a car parked on the street after 5 oclock. Now, it’s hard to get a parking spot!” continued Luckett. “We started something there that is now known as the ‘Clarksdale Miracle’. My friends started coming to me saying, ‘Bill…take to the state level what you’ve been doing here in Clarksdale’. So…I decided to do just that.”
City Council Holds Special Meeting To Amend Budget
Mayor Robert Smith and the Columbus City Council held a special meeting Tuesday afternoon to amend the budget because of rising fuel costs and overtime pay for police officers, according to Columbus Chief Financial Officer Mike Bernsen. Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box suggested using GPS tracking devises in city vehicles as a way of helping to cut fuel cost. Mayor Robert Smith brought up the idea of reducing public works back to a four-day work week. And the council explored the idea of hiring some private security officers to work with patrol officers in special events in an effort to reduce overtime pay for police officers. In the end, the council voted to amend the budget by $536,064 to make up for the budget shortfall.
Ron Williams can be reached by email at Ronsings2you@aol.com