Barbour wins our endorsement, can move Mississippi forward

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

Mississippi, and more important Adams County, is poised at a time when strong leadership is crucial. With that in mind, we offer the following endorsements for state and local offices.

Our first and foremost endorsement, however, is of voter participation. Now more than ever, Adams County residents must turn out to vote. The endorsements below are our recommendations, based on our knowledge of the candidates and the issues which this newspaper has supported.

For governor, we endorse Haley Barbour, a native Mississippian and longtime player on the national GOP stage. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove has painted Barbour as a Washington lobbyist, but the very skills Barbour learned in that field &045;&045; and the contacts he has made as a national political figure &045;&045; can help Mississippi as we work to move forward. He can also help build consensus with other political leaders and in the Mississippi Legislature.

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For much of the campaign, Barbour has stayed positive, focusing on the simple slogan, &uot;I believe Mississippi can do better.&uot; We think so, too. Musgrove, by comparison, came out swinging as the campaign opened, perhaps knowing he is in the fight of his political life.

Barbour has good ideas to help build the economy of this state, including job training, incentives and further tort reform. Fixing our tort problem is one of the necessary steps toward proving Mississippi is a business-friendly state. Musgrove has similar ideas about attracting businesses, but he does not make civil justice reform a part of his platform. In fact, while he took credit for medical malpractice reform once it was finally passed last year, he actually came late to the party, calling a special session only after much lobbying from doctors &045;&045; many of whom are from Natchez.

Musgrove has made some promises to Adams County that we appreciate. If elected, Barbour &045;&045;who made only a few campaign trips to our city over the past year &045;&045; must become more engaged with the needs of Southwest Mississippi. We hope if he is elected his administration would follow through on Musgrove and the Mississippi Development Authority’s work with our economic development and elected officials. While we think he will be the best governor for Mississippi, he still must show us he can be the best governor for Southwest Mississippi.

For lieutenant governor, we endorse incumbent Republican Amy Tuck. Tuck’s recent party switch no doubt leaves some folks questioning her equivocation on certain issues, but she has focused on the need for more tort reform during this campaign. With her position as presiding officer in the Senate, Tuck can have an incredibly important role in shaping the Legislature’s effectiveness in this issue. Let’s hope when it comes around again lawmakers won’t take nearly as long to pass the legislation as they did for malpractice reform.

Democrat Barbara Blackmon, meanwhile, embarrassed herself with a strange demand that both candidates sign an affidavit that neither had had an abortion. Taking what we’ll hope was bad campaign advice does not negate her service or commitment to the state, but it does leave us to believe she is not right for the position of lieutenant governor.

In local races, we have found the candidates for Adams County supervisor Districts 1 and 2 to be difficult to choose. All four have proposed good ideas to help move the county forward, especially at such a difficult time.

In District 1, we endorse newcomer Jerry Lyles, a Democrat. While Sammy Cauthen has been a good public servant for Adams County, we appreciate the new ideas Lyles can bring to the table. We also see potential in him as a good consensus builder, one who will look at what is best those in his district and for Adams County as a whole.

In District 2, we endorse Democrat Henry Watts. Watts has promised to be an active member of the board of supervisors, proposing a number of ideas that can help attract industry as well as help businesses and individuals here succeed. Republican Brad Fondren has run a positive campaign and deserves consideration, but we believe Watts will bring energy and debate to the board.

Kept constructive and positive, strong debate will bring improvement in county government.

For sheriff, we endorse Republican incumbent Tommy Ferrell. Ferrell’s law enforcement experience, his national position as president of the sheriff’s association and his leadership skills make him the best choice to lead our sheriff’s department. While Ronny Brown has made a valuable commitment to youth programs for Adams County, we do not believe his experience or leadership skills can match that of Ferrell.