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Aretha knows the key to this election

If I were Aretha Franklin I might belt out one of the rhythm and blues singer’s most famous lines with a little twist: R-E-S-P-E-C-T that’s what this election means to me.

All cheekiness aside, I have decided that the current mayoral race is not about the issues.

As one alderman candidate recently told me, “There really is no difference between the candidates.” Everybody running for office wants more jobs, lower taxes, more services and good schools the candidate said.

Listening to the candidates talk about the issues at the most recent mayoral forum at the Natchez Convention Center, it is clear that the biggest differences that separate the candidates are not issue-oriented. No. The biggest differences are about personality.

In the end, how the candidates act and react over the next few weeks will determine which candidate will get my vote.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting this election should turn into a popularity contest. Rather, if all the candidates are saying what they think the voters want to hear, then maybe it is not their words but their actions that make all the difference.

It is about respect — respect candidates have for voters, respect they have for each other and respect they have for the office for which they are campaigning.

In recent days the phones at the Natchez city planner’s office have been ringing off the hook with complaints about campaign sign ordinance violations.

One particular campaign banner on Commerce Street has become the poster-child of the current sign ordinance scuffle.

According to the city sign ordinance, campaign banners cannot exceed 30 square feet.

Mayoral candidate Larry L. “Butch” Brown said he notified the planning department last week that he believed a banner for Mayor Jake Middleton hanging in the 100 block of South Commerce Street was in violation of the ordinance.

Because the planning department did not have a ladder tall enough to verify the size of the sign, Brown asked the city fire department to send one of its fire trucks so that the sign could be measured.

Accusing Brown of being so arrogant to think he can summon the fire department whenever he wants, Middleton told the fire chief to keep the trucks at the fire station.

“He doesn’t (have that authority) anymore, I have it now,” Middleton said.

Brown on the other hand, accused Middleton of thinking he is “untouchable” because he is mayor.

Really?? Is that what this race has turned into?

Do the candidates think that I and any voter will be impressed by these stunts?

I want candidates to act as they will when elected. Clearly, I don’t want this clownishness.

While Brown and Middleton are fighting over one single downtown sign, other candidates are busy meeting with voters and demonstrating their own leadership qualities.

The previous mayoral forum gave us a glimpse on how each candidate will act if elected. Phillip West showed enthusiasm, eloquence and a self-deprecating sense of humor. Bill Furlow showed a willingness to take on complicated issues and search for consensus.

These are traits I want to see in a mayor, along with conscientiousness and humbleness — being able to adhere to sign ordinances and a willingness to admit mistakes.

As Aretha said, “All I am askin’ is for a little respect.”

 

Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by email at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.

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