Voters know what they want candidates to address in electionPublished 12:05am Sunday, April 8, 2012
“I think we had as much transparency as we could allow, gave the public time to talk about it and then took it into executive session and got the best deal we could,” he said.
West, who signed the original lease with the casino developers, said he was not familiar enough with latest the inner workings of the casino amendment to make a judgment on whether he would have supported it had he been mayor.
Buie, said although he does not support gaming, he does not oppose two casinos in Natchez.
“I don’t have any problem with having both casinos here, because it will eventually shut down both of them,” he said.
Buie said he filed a lawsuit against the building of condominiums on the bluff several years ago and believes all riverfront property should remain public.
Brown, Furlow, West and Middleton all said they believe Natchez can support a second casino.
Brown said he believed competition between the casinos would only breed business and growth and better the gaming in Natchez, as long as both casinos are on a level playing field.
Furlow said Natchez may be able to support a second casino, but it will not be a win-win situation for everyone.
“I do think that when we are looking at the revenue that the new casino will create, some revenue is going to be inevitably lost at the Isle of Capri,” he said.
West said he is a firm believer in the free market system and is confident Natchez should be able to capitalize on the gaming support of the region.
“If (the new casino) opens, I’m hoping the competition in Natchez will grow the market beyond the area where it’s concentrated now,” West said. “Natchez may be a little different but we won’t know until we see what happens.”
Middleton said he does not believe the Magnolia Bluffs Casino will take revenue from the Isle of Capri, which he said has been a good corporate citizen. He said a second casino would help bring more people to the city, which will increase the revenue stream for all businesses and grow Natchez’s tourism industry.
West said if the Magnolia Bluffs Casino opens, he believes many of the provisions laid out in the original lease that are included in the amendment will greatly benefit the city, such as the $1 million for a YMCA or recreation complex.
What the candidates say about recreation
West said politics held up plans for a recreation complex when he was mayor. His term ended four years ago, when Middleton defeated West.
“I’m hoping the politics of it will be established and set aside once this election is over, and a cooperative effort can be had to see what can and should be done to get the recreation complex moving,” he said.
Middleton also said he believes the money from the casino lease will help speed along plans to build a recreation complex.
“Once these elections are over, I think we really need to dig in and get back to the table,” he said. “It’s all ready to go, the plans are done, we just need to continue and get it built.”