Hammett leaves big shoes to fill, local leaders say

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

FERRIDAY &8212; State Rep. Bryant Hammett has set local expectations high.

Hammett, who retired June 30 from his District 21 position in the House of Representatives, said whoever is elected after the Sept. 30 election needs to be, at least, qualified.

&8220;To fill the position you have to be somewhat of a multitasker,&8221; Hammett said. &8220;You have to look out for the area and make sure views and needs are met and addressed, but you also have to step back and look at the overall state picture.&8221;

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Projects and areas of knowledge in economic development, education, health care and infrastructure are areas the candidate&8217;s attention must be focused on, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said. Copeland announced he had no plans of pursuing the position after taking a short time to think about the opportunity.

&8220;I hate to see him leave and understand why, but we do need someone of a Bryant Hammett caliber,&8221; Copeland said. &8220;It&8217;s imperative we have someone with experience and knowledge of the inner workings of state and local governments.&8221;

Names surfacing for the job include Ferriday Chief of Police Richard Madison and Assistant District Attorney Andy Magoun. Magoun has not officially said he intends to run. Madison said with a military background and a genuine care for the needs and wants of people in the area, he is running.

&8220;I welcome this challenge,&8221; Madison said. &8220;If we send someone down there it should be someone that&8217;s going to represent everybody and when I went into the military I went to serve the people.&8221;

Madison&8217;s views begin with furthering alternative fuel possibilities. Health care improvement and finding solutions to the nursing shortage also highlighted his list of issues to work on if elected.

Finding a local prospect to fill the position is important to area officials as well as residents, Concordia Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington.

&8220;Whoever gets the position has big shoes to fill,&8221; Ferrington said. &8220;It&8217;s very important to have a local person in that position with the grant money coming in. We&8217;re going to need strong leadership to control that money.&8221;

The elected candidate will be responsible for covering Concordia, East Carroll, Madison and Tensas Parishes. If the need arises a runoff will be held Nov. 7. A legislative assistant is currently in the office tending to the needs of the public and will continue until the position is filled, Hammett said.

Hammett said leaving the position is bittersweet, but the new undertaking of duty with the State office of Community Development is &8220;too unique of an opportunity to pass up.&8221;

&8220;Nobody that&8217;s in it for the right reason ever feels like they complete their mission,&8221; Hammett said on leaving and a new candidate. &8220;No matter when you leave you feel like you&8217;re leaving something undone. There is a great degree of sadness, but life changes and life goes on.&8221;