District 21 hopefuls discuss future

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; All three candidates for the open District 21 House of Representatives seat said Tuesday they want to extend the visible successes of the Vidalia riverfront to the whole area.

Andy Anders, James Lee and Sam Thomas told the Vidalia Chamber of Commerce that hard work and good leadership were evident in the town, but more work would be needed to continue growth.

&8220;What y&8217;all have done working together is remarkable,&8221; Anders told the group. &8220;If you fairly do things and work with a group to know what&8217;s needed here, you can do it.&8221;

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Anders has an agricultural background and grew up in Ferriday. He is also chairman of the Soil and Water Board for Tensas and Concordia parishes.

&8220;We have to preserve what God has given us,&8221; he said &8220;I want to work on your team to build something for our future and for our kids.&8221;

James Lee, a former superintendent of the Concordia Parish schools, said his goal if elected would be to complete current projects in the district and push for new ones.

&8220;We are labeled as the poorest (district),&8221; Lee said. &8220;We are going to be viable and move forward. When I leave this office I&8217;m going to leave District 21 better than I found it.&8221;

Lee said his diverse experiences as a teacher, business owner and community leader make him an ideal candidate for the position.

Sam Thomas, the only non-Concordia resident in the race, stressed to the Vidalia crowd that he was interested in their parish.

&8220;I will go to Baton Rouge and make sure this district is taken care of,&8221; he said. &8220;If we join hands throughout this district we can make a difference. And for me to get to Baton Rouge, I&8217;ve got to go through Concordia. And I can&8217;t speed going through Ferriday, so you can stop me, or run alongside the car because I&8217;ll be going slow.&8221;

Thomas said he wanted to see teacher salaries go up despite the area&8217;s low tax base. And the district must do something to keep young adults close by for work, he said.

Thomas is a Tallulah attorney. He was recently indicted on tax fraud charges, but said Tuesday that he has hired an attorney to fight the charges and is innocent.

The House seat was left open when Vidalia native Bryant Hammett left the post for a state job.

District 21 covers Concordia, Tensas, East Carroll and Madison parishes.