Candidates face off in political forum

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 30, 1999

Candidates swapped polite jabs at one another Thursday night at the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum.

About 75 people scattered through available chairs at the Lady Luck Hotel meeting room. A few written questions were passed to the podium from the audience.

Moderated by Fred Middleton, chairman of the chamber’s legal affairs committee, candidates approached the podium by political race, beginning with the District 95 State Representative’s race.

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Incumbent Republican Andrew Ketchings faced his Democratic challenger Pamela Ferrington.

Ketchings cited his record at the state Capitol. &uot;I promised to work hard for you,&uot; he told the audience, listing his part in landing the bluff stabilization project, pay raises for the state’s teachers and improved state school books.

Ferrington said the focus of her campaign would be education and economic development. &uot;Too many of our young people are leaving,&uot; Ferrington said.

Ketchings said he was for tax cuts, while Ferrington was more reserved.

&uot;There’s a lot of waste in government. I think most people would prefer better serves to a few dollars in their pocket,&uot; she said. Ferrington said she does favor eliminating the tax on groceries.

Democratic candidate for Adams County coroner James Lee faced independent challenger Pat Powers.

Both men stated their qualifications for the office – Lee as an EMT and respiratory therapist and Powers as a 12-year veteran of the Natchez Police Department who dealt with death cases in the city and as a trained EMT first responder.

Powers said training he received at the Maryland State Medical Examiner’s Office taught him that &uot;when you make assumptions, you make mistakes.&uot;

Lee said he would not only rely on his medical training for a scientific method of evaluation in each case, but maintain open communication between the office of county coroner and police and the public.

Incumbent Adams County Supervisor in District 1 Samuel L. &uot;Sammy&uot; Cauthen faced Republican challenger Branon Pesnell.

Cauthen stood on his record and accomplishments in his past 20 years in office while Pesnell said he hoped to recruit industry himself if elected supervisor.

&uot;There are no limits to what I can do as supervisor,&uot; Pesnell said. Citing economic development, education and crime as his three areas for concentration, Pesnell said he would take a personal approach to the job.

Pesnell said an elected school board was &uot;a dead issue,&uot; while Cauthen pointed out that an appointed school board had only been declared legal by the attorney general’s office.

&uot;I do have a problem with an appointed board levying taxes,&uot; Cauthen said.

Lynwood Easterling was also unopposed on the dais. He took the opportunity to promote census jobs that would could be applied for on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 5 p.m. in the Supervisors Board Room at the County Administration Building.

Incumbent Adams County Circuit Clerk Fred Ferguson debated his Democratic opponent M. L. &uot;Binkey&uot; Vines on the issue of efficiency of operation for that office.

Vines charged Ferguson with maintaining an $80,000 salary when the county needed more efficient operation.

But Ferguson said he had paid taxes on a salary for the four years of $198,000 when he had committed to make no more than $42,000 per year which would have come to $168,000.

Approximately $8,000 of the salary was given back to the county in cash and another $25,000 was spent to upgrade the Circuit Clerk’s Office in the area of computer systems.

Constable Southeastern District incumbent Danny Rollins was unopposed in the forum by his Independent challenger Ronald J. Foster.

Adams County Sheriff Tommy Ferrell was a lonely figure at the podium as his opponent, Republican candidate Tommie Lee Jones, did not attend.

Ferrell took the opportunity to stress the professionalism of his department of 55 officers.

Ferrell fielded two questions on safety and communication.