Parish candidates square off in forum

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 7, 1999

FERRIDAY, La. – Eight candidates for District 21 state representative and Concordia Parish sheriff and police jury squared off in an election forum Thursday night.

More than 25 people a forum at Mount Olive Baptist Church hosted by the Concordia Parish Civic and Industry Association.

Sammy Davis Jr., a Ferriday councilman and former mayor and ex-police juror who is running for the District 21 state representative’s post, said finding money to give teachers and school support staff raises would be a top priority.

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Davis said people he is talking to can’t name a project done with money the current representative helped get that has helped them personally. &uot;I&160;promise to go back to these communities in this district and talk with you about what needs to be done,&uot; he said.

But Bryant Hammett, who has been the area’s representative for eight years, said experience he has gained and relationships he has made with those in power in Baton Rouge are one of his strengths. &uot;Local community leaders can tell you I’ve been very available to work with them to help solve the problems of this parish,&uot;&160;he said. Beyond that, he said jobs and educational improvements would be his top priorities for his next term.

Sheriff candidate George Sewell promised to arrest both big-time and small-time drug dealers because he believes drugs are the parish’s top crime problem.

&uot;We drug dealers on almost every corner in this parish,&uot;&160;said Sewell, who has graduated from several law enforcement training programs and worked 31 years in law enforcement.

Sheriff candidate Tony Braley said that, if elected, he will make the department more responsive and accountable to the people, get more technology and training for officers and lead with honesty and integrity.

&uot;I don’t have a long pedigree like Mr. Sewell, but what I have I&160;will bring to the people,&uot;&160;said Braley, a reserve officer in Vidalia and Concordia Parish for many years.

The Rev. Justin Conner, a local activist and justice of the peace, promised that every sheriff’s office worker would still be employed after the election if he is elected. &uot;And I&160;want people to know we can do anything if we only put our minds to it,&uot;&160;Conner said.

Sheriff Randy Maxwell could not attend Thursday’s forum.

Two police jury candidates also spoke at the forum. District 1, Place B Juror Gene Allen said he has always assisted Ferriday in getting needed equipment in emergencies and helped get another minority district drawn up in the parish.

Elijah Banks, who is running for the District 1, Place A juror seat, said he has the leadership needed to do the job and pledged to listen to residents’ concerns.

The primary election will be Oct. 23.