Mayor’s office needs experience

Published 12:05 am Sunday, June 1, 2008

On Tuesday, voters in the City of Natchez will select three of the seven key leaders who will guide the city for the next four years.

Two mayoral candidates are on the ballot and four candidates seek the two aldermen spots in Ward 3 and Ward 5.

Among those choices are a unique cross section of Natchez’s citizens, including a forester, a former football coach, a mother and a couple of small business owners.

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We’ve interviewed each of these candidates, studied their resumes and qualifications and offer our endorsements to the three candidates we feel are the best choices on the ballot.

In the mayor’s race, while we feel either choice is a sound one, four-term alderman Jake Middleton earns our nod for his experience as a small business owner and a great understanding of how city government works. Both traits are extremely important as the city faces the need to streamline its budget and do so with a board of aldermen consisting of at least three rookies. The mayor’s office is one in which sound management experience is critical and Middleton possesses that experience.

His mild-mannered style will serve taxpayers well in leading the department heads back into a culture of cooperation and excellence that has been lacking in the last few years.

In the Ward 3 alderman race, incumbent Bob Pollard is our pick. Interestingly, Pollard’s challenger, Gwen Ball, struck a chord with us by beating the open government drum. However, we feel she can do more to keep government open by continuing to be an active, involved citizen. Pollard brings experience to the table, though he’d be wise to pay attention to Ball’s encouragement to lead the city openly. Doing so is critical.

In Ward 5, Mark Fortenbery is our choice. Fortenbery brings fresh ideas and a positive desire to improve the city. He’s campaigned on fixing the public school system. While that’s a worthy cause, it’s not something that aldermen — at least not as an official city board — can do. If Fortenbery can focus that enthusiasm and passion into other city issues, he’ll do well.

We hope that if you’re a registered Natchez voter you’ll head to the polls on Tuesday and vote. It’s your city, your future and your right to vote.