Speak now or forever hold your griping

Published 12:21am Sunday, April 1, 2012

And they’re off! With the close of the qualification period Saturday, all the players are set in the Natchez municipal races.

At least, that is, until word is received from the federal government about whether or not the city’s redistricting plans will be approved.

For now, however, the city elections are full-speed ahead.

Unaffected by potential redistricting issues, the race for the Natchez mayor’s seat should go off without a hitch.

Five people have thrown their hats into the ring to be the next Natchez mayor.

Personally, all five must suffer from some mental illness. I cannot imagine wanting to be mayor, particularly in Natchez’s strong board, weak mayor system of government.

But I digress.

What is it, exactly, that Natchez citizens are seeking from their next mayor?

If you were mayor of Natchez, what would you do on your first day in office?

Could you name your top three campaign initiatives?

What would you say to convince undecided voters that you’re the best person for the job?

Well, you have a great chance to consider that and sum up the candidates.

Monday evening from 5:30 to 7 p.m., voters will get their first good, side-by-side look at the candidates seeking to be Natchez mayor.

That’s when the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce will sponsor its mayoral candidates forum.

The event will be at the Natchez Convention Center on the corner of Main and Canal streets.

Having been in the audience to a number of such candidates’ forums in the past, the mood of these events can run the gamut.

Some are akin to watching paint dry, as candidates offer no surprises, instead choosing to only talk about their predictable plans.

Others can be much more interesting when candidates are put on the spot — either by a question or, perhaps, by their challenger.

How Monday’s mayoral forum will go is anyone’s guess.

But even in the most exciting of the forums, the most disappointing thing is always the small number of voters who take advantage of the opportunity to see and hear from the candidates.

The forums are not only a great way to hear what the candidates want to say to you, the forums are also interactive.

If you’ve ever wanted to express your thoughts on something about city government or how you think the city should be run, now is the time to communicate your thoughts.

You have a chance to ask each mayoral candidate their opinions about issues facing the city.

If you don’t have any direct questions, all you have to do is show up and listen.

For those of you with questions, submitting a question is easy. Just send your questions to me and I’ll forward to the chamber.

Simple enough, huh?

Forums in political races are similar to that point in a wedding in which the pastor says, “Speak now or forever hold your peace.”

If you don’t get involved and ask questions of the candidates and get information now, you have no right to complain later.

Find out your answers now or forever hold your gripes.

Thanks to the folks at the chamber for organizing the forum. Hopefully, residents will pack the convention center Monday night.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

  • Anonymous

    The mayor’s race will likely end up in a Democratic runoff….but for Fields to be unopposed is a sickening statement to just how far Natchez has devolved into obscurity

  • Anonymous

    Question #1 – What is your position on flying the MS state flag on government facilities?
    Question #2 – Do you file homestead exemption on the residence you claim within the city limits that qualifies you to run for this office?

  • Anonymous

    OMG!  Listening to that would be akin to fingernails on a chalkboard.

  • Anonymous

    Question #3 – Are you willing to help Natchez become a “tourist town” with a waterfront area (the river and not the creek) developed for public access and enjoyment?
    Question #4 – Are you willing to help tourism in downtown Natchez by creating public restrooms and signs towards their locations?

  • Anonymous

    #3 and 4 are good questions, But,… where could you have public restrooms downtown and who would maintain them? Surely we would not want port a potties scattered around.
    There is no riverfront left for the public, unless the city could somehow acquire that area the Soleil was going to use for a casino parking lot. It is nice and flat already and did not flood in ’11.

  • Anonymous

    When I have all the answers, I’ll run for mayor myself. But until then, I expect the people that want to run the town to have a plan to implement some tourism basics that have never been done. Meanwhile, the convention center could use some signs pointing towards it’s bathrooms. Also, there are plenty of places that could be used such as the boarded up properties on commerce that look like pure crap in the heart of a “tourist town.” And river front is still available to the politicians that put the public in a higher priority than the dollars slipped into their pockets.

  • Anonymous

    Along your lines, Question #5 – When can we expect the collonnade bases at the reception center to be repaired – they are about to rot completely through, you can see daylight through them.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com Kevin Cooper

    Thanks folks. Good questions. Several others e-mailed some directly.


  • Anonymous

    One would think that of the many construction companys that make their money here somebody could attempt a project such as that pro bono.

    I remember riding thru them as a kid to merge over to the bridge to Louisiana.

  • Anonymous

    Three long-winded questions.

    1. I read an article a year or so ago about how mayors in various places in the country perform their jobs. Mayor Daley of Chicago established a circuit of driving through every neighborhood, no matter how troubled, in the huge city on a regular basis so he intimately knew what was going on in every area: to see if there was trash, drug dealers on corners, etc., and then he acted on it. The mayor of New Orleans takes his police chief and regularly visits troubled neighborhoods, walking through them and talking to the people who live in the areas about problems. The mayor of another city (can’t remember which) has been known to get out of bed in the middle of the night if a serious crime has been committed in the city and drive to the scene to give moral support to the police and the people in the neighborhood. All this hands-on, aggressive effort not only creates unity between the mayor, the people who work for the city (for instance, the police), and the citizens, but also cuts into the cynicism people have about their government and makes for a far better-managed city. Would you be willing to exert this kind of proactive, aggressive presence in Natchez? How, exactly, would you do it? Will you get out of bed in the middle of the night to go to the scene of a serious crime?
    2. Is Natchez better off than it was four years ago, eight years ago? My hunch is that if you took a poll, the citizens of Natchez would say that the city has declined over the last eight years, under the current and previous administrations. Do you think the people are wrong? What’s your perception of the performance of the mayors over the last eight years?
    3. Other towns not nearly as beautiful as Natchez have come up with innovative ways to revive commerce. Paducah, Kentucky, for instance, worked out a private/government arrangement that converted empty buildings into lofts for artists and established an “artist relocation program.” The project has been a huge success, already paying for itself, and reviving downtown and the feel of the city. Do you have any innovative plans for Natchez? For instance, could something be done with the unsightly lot where the pecan factory once stood?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Kevin. I’d be there personally if I wusn’t out of town. Any information the Democrat can extract from the candidates will be greatly appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    OGD–if you ever ran for mayor, I believe I would vote for you!