Retirees say mayor’s attitude sets tone for Natchez

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

NATCHEZ &045;&045; For Natchez retirees interviewed Thursday, choosing the city’s next mayor is all about attitude.

A mayor, they said, must be the type of person who will work to unify the community and will be willing to solicit input from all sectors of the city in making key decisions.

&uot;That’s what we want &045;&045; a mayor who has vision and the ability to listen,&uot; said Bobbie Smith who, with fellow Natchez retiree Maxine Bryce, participated in a voter roundtable discussion Thursday.

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In particular, many liked an idea championed by former mayoral candidate Mike Thompson &045;&045; that of forming citizen think tanks to brainstorm ideas to city problems and bring those solutions to city officials.

How important is it for a mayor to exhibit a positive, proactive attitude? Crucial, since the mayor in many ways sets the tone for the city, Smith said.

&uot;The death of Natchez will be apathy&uot; on the part of its citizens, Smith said.

In addition, as a public official, &uot;you can’t be thinking of what you can get out of something first &045;&045; you have to think of Natchez first,&uot; she said.

Beyond that, those interviewed said they would like to see a mayor’s platform include recruitment of a variety of businesses to Natchez.

Not only that, they said, but a mayor also needs to champion expanding non-industrial sectors that help boost the city’s economy, such as tourism and the recruitment of retirees to live here.

&uot;Natchez is a place of peace, security and comfort for retirees,&uot; Smith said. &uot;And retired people give back tenfold what they receive.&uot;

Tourism is a sector that is already well-established in Natchez, so it’s a no-brainer to foster it in any way possible, they said.

&uot;We have a jewel here,&uot; Smith said. &uot;We need to respect what we have here and build on it first.&uot;

&uot;I’m not saying tourism has to be the whole thing, but it’s certainly part of it,&uot; Bryce said. But if tourists, industries and individuals are being recruited to Natchez, a mayor must make sure ordinances that govern such things as dilapidated houses, overgrown lots and loud music are enforced throughout town to keep Natchez’s quality of life high, they said.

Clarence Robson, who wasn’t able to attend Thursday’s roundtable, said later he would like to see a mayor do things to make Natchez more user-friendly for tourists. Such things, he said, could include encouraging businesses to keep longer and weekend hours.

Robson said he would also like to see flights to Natchez from the other cities in the region from which it draws most of its tourists.

&uot;Maybe not every day, but regularly,&uot; Robson said. &uot;And that can help draw more tourists.&uot;