Candidates offer ideas at forum

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; In the second of three weekly political forums held at Bowie’s Tavern, several candidates for aldermen on Monday gave the high points of their visions for Natchez.

Ward 1

Joyce Arceneaux: Incumbent Arceneaux said she, along with other city officials, successfully pushed to get $8 million in federal funds for drainage improvements in north and downtown Natchez.

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Arceneaux said she would push to use Community Development Block Grants for housing improvements and push for street and drainage improvements. She said she would work develop a five-year strategic plan for economic development.

James Gavette: Gavette said he believes tourism should be strongly promoted and that the way to do that is through local entrepreneurship. &uot;We have so much to be proud of,&uot; Gavette said.

Gavette said he believes citizens should have more of a say in quality of life issues &uot;and in the type of industries that come to town. We should not be subjected to noisy, smelly, polluting industries.&uot;

Jim Sanders: When it comes to economic development, Sanders said he believes elected officials, the EDA and the Chamber of Commerce should all work together to recruit industry.

&uot;We need to grow opportunities so our children and grandchildren can stay at home,&uot; Sanders said.

Ward 3

Cynthia Parker Brumfield:

Brumfield said one of the keys to economic development is for local leaders to stop blaming each other for what’s gone wrong in the past.

Instead, she said, they need to study what Natchez’s positives are and work to sell those to prospective industries.

One of those positives, Brumfield said, is a public school system that, despite negative perceptions, has started some innovative programs. &uot;If you haven’t done so, I urge you to go out and see what our schools are doing,&uot; she said.

David &uot;D.D.&uot;Smith: Smith said if elected he would work with the mayor and Board of Aldermen to attract jobs to the area.

He said he would push for water and sewer rates to be cut, would not favor a tax increase and would be against salary raises for the mayor and aldermen.

Ward 4

Donnell Newsome: Newsome said, if elected, he would work to improve public education &045; specifically, by helping raise the expectations that parents have for their children.

Newsome said his years as an educator have given him experience in working with people of different backgrounds, being open-mined and compassionate, yet firm when necessary. He said he believes those qualities would make him the ideal candidate.

Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West: Thirteen years in city government, having lived in Natchez all his life and always voting his convictions are what incumbent West said make him the best representative for Ward 4.

West said the city has undertaken many projects after much research and discussion. Those include gaming, bluff stabilization, the intermodal center, the convention center and related properties and consolidating fire service.

Ward 5

David Massey: Incumbent Massey said while a lack of jobs is a problem in Natchez, there is also much going on behind the scenes to be positive about.

Massey cited negotiations local officials are in to turn the former International Paper site into an industrial park that could house several industries. The lack of industrial sites has hurt efforts to recruit industries in the past, he said.

But Natchez has other selling points as well, such as its health care facilities, quality public schools and growing institutions such as Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Alcorn State University, he said.

Also, he said, the federal courthouse will bring in lawyers, judges and juries and help boost the local economy. &uot;We’ve got so many good things happening,&uot; he said.