Three candidates up for Ridgecrest alderman seat

Published 12:01am Thursday, November 1, 2012

NATCHEZ — Three candidates will square off in Tuesday’s election for the vacant seat on the Ridgecrest Board of Aldermen.

The candidates are Cecil “Frank” Gatlin Jr., Jeff Johnson and Bobby Sheppard Sr.

Gatlin says he is unhappy with the direction in which Ridgecrest is going, and Johnson and Sheppard say they want to be part of the progress in Ridgecrest.

Cecil “Frank” Gatlin Jr.,

Gatlin said he believes it is time for him to voice his opinion on issues in Ridgecrest.

“I’ve lived here for 15 years, and I don’t really like the way things are going, so I figured I would stand up and voice my opinion,” Gatlin said.

Gatlin said he is the best candidate for the position because he is “for the people.” Being for the people and solving residents’ problems is the main duty of a Ridgecrest alderman, Gatlin said.

With the recent financial woes in Ridgecrest, Gatlin said another important duty is to ensure proper spending of the town’s money.

Gatlin said he feels the town’s roads issues need to be addressed.

“The roads are falling apart because we went for the cheapest bidder on a ditch project,” Gatlin said. “Nothing is done correctly, things are done cheaply and quickly.”

Gatlin said he believes Ridgecrest Mayor Dwayne Sikes is taking the necessary steps to correct the town’s finances, but he said a close eye needs to be kept on the town’s spending.

Jeff Johnson

Lifetime Ridgecrest resident Jeff Johnson said he is running for alderman because he wants to take care of the people in his town.

Johnson said his professional management experience qualifies him for the position of alderman.

“Running a town isn’t much different than running a business,” he said. “You just have to care about the people in your town.”

The most important duties of an alderman, Johnson said, are making sure policies are implemented correctly and residents’ problems are handled in a timely manner.

Helping to get the town’s finances back in order will be one of Johnson’s top priorities, he said, if elected.

“The mayor is doing a wonderful job,” Johnson said. “I think we need more town involvement. I would like to keep the people informed and get out and see what they want done and what they want changed.”

Bobby Sheppard Sr.

With many years of experience in law enforcement and former police chief of Ferriday, Bobby Sheppard Sr. says he knows the work it takes to run a department, the same kind of hard work it takes to run a town.

Sheppard said he had never considered running for alderman until he was urged to do so by community members. Now, he said, he wants to do whatever it takes to better the community.

That will include, Sheppard said, working with the mayor and other aldermen addressing town issues, seeking grants and handling town business.

“I want to just be that open door to the community and for me to be the person they can come to help resolve (their) problems and help make Ridgecrest an even better place to live in,” he said.

Throughout his career in law enforcement, Sheppard said, he has been dependable, honest and fair.

“I’ve always tried to do the right thing,” he said.

Sheppard said if elected he will work with all the people necessary to further progress in Ridgecrest and ask every question needed to find answers for residents.

“I have the ability to reach across the aisle to make things happen,” he said. “I’ve always tried to be upfront with people and honest with people and fair with people.”