Clerk, judge, constable hopefuls take stage

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Candidates for the Adams County circuit clerk, from left, Jennifer “Lady J” Minor, Britt Gibson and Eddie Walker speak during the political forum Tuesday afternoon at the Natchez Convention Center.

NATCHEZ — A slate of incumbents touted their experience as challengers boasted of new plans for the future Tuesday night at the second of two Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce-sponsored political forums.

Candidates for chancery clerk, circuit clerk, justice court judge and constable spoke.

Close to 100 people attended, but some left desiring more information.

Lifelong Natchez resident Joe Garrity said he’d have liked to hear more about each candidate’s platforms.

“Most candidates had trouble answering the questions they were given,” he said. “They made some good points, but they strayed from the question.”

Chancery clerk

Two candidates are vying for the office of chancery clerk, incumbent Tommy

O’Beirne and challenger Willie B. Jones.

O’Beirne emphasized the fact that he has the experience it takes to do his job.

For example, he said, knowing how accounting budgets work and how to compute them is necessary. O’Beirne also pointed out that he currently has 11 people working under his leadership, and he’s responsible for directing them.

Jones said, though, that the job should have more of a focus on the community.

Adams County chancery clerk candidates Tommy O’Beirne, left, and Willie B. Jones talk about their plans for the job.

Jones said he would put the emphasis on helping people and bettering the community.

“People in the community should be getting together and making

wise decisions,” he said.

Jones said he’d also like to provide workshops to give the community the opportunity to ask questions and become better informed.

Moving forward with economic development in working with the board of supervisors is one of O’Beirne’s priority’s, he said.

Jones said he’s concerned with helping people who are in need.

“When I was in New Orleans at the sheriff’s department, I always wanted to come home and serve the people of Adams County,” he said.

Circuit clerk

Three candidates are seeking the job of circuit clerk, incumbent Ed

die Walker, Jennifer Minor and Britt Gibson.

Walker said its his experience that qualifies him for the job.

“I’ve had the privilege of spending over 30 years in the circuit court system,” he said. “I have been the circuit clerk and learned the intricacies of the office and how to handle what goes on in there.”

Candidate Britt Gibson said his business experience qualifies him for the job, as does his drive to want the county to excel.

Additionally, he said, children are very close to his heart, and he hopes to be able to help them through the circuit clerk position.

Minor said her 22 years of radio broadcasting required consistency, and she also has experience working as a deputy clerk.

“I’m very community involved,” she said.

Walker said he supports the idea of making it necessary for voters to show identification at the polls to prevent people from voting multiple times.

Gibson agreed, saying he doesn’t think it would deter voters.

Minor, however, disagreed.

“I don’t think it would curve fraud,” she said. “It’s so easy for a person to get a fake ID.”

Southern district judge

Candidates for the Adams County Southern District Justice Court judge, Gary Mullins, left, and Charlie Vess talk about the job of the court.

Two men are running for the seat of Southern district justice court judge, incumbent Ch

arlie Vess and Gary Mullins.

Vess reiterated that he has more than 20 years in experience, and from that, he’s glea

ned a lot of knowledge.

Mullins said he understands that the job

would be full time, but he thinks the court process could be expedited.

Mullins said the main problem he sees in the way things are being run is that a lot of times, fines go uncollected.

Vess said when he took office, there was close to a $1 million debt, but over the years, that debt has been reduced.

“I had 42 cases (Tuesday),” he said. “A lot of people had to pay fines before they left the room.”

Mullins said he’d be passionate yet firm with the cases he sees in court.

“(I’d be) honest and fair with cases,” he said.

Constable

Incumbent Ray Brown, Murray Warnock, Kendrick “Kimbo” Lewis and Daryl Walker are competing for the seat of constable.

Brown said serving the citizens in Adams County in both civil and criminal matters is his priority.

Ray Brown, left, and Murray L. Warnock Sr. are running for Adams County constable for the Northern District.

“(The constable) has almost constant duties to help all law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Warnock said he wants to protect the children of Adams County by patrolling neighborhoods and schools.

“The children are our future, and that’s what I’m here for,” he said.

Brown said he’d enhance the constable position by being more visible.

“Whatever citizens ask of me, I’m always on call, and I’ll do my best,” he said.

Warnock echoed Brown in regards to taking care of neighborhoods.

“I’d like to see more neighborhood watches and people working with law enforcement officials,” he said.

Warnock added that he’d be a full-time constable.

Brown stressed that in order to be able to lead, one needs good followers, and he’d do the job citizens expect of him.

Candidates Lewis and Walker were not present for the forum.

Coroner

Imcumbent Coroner James E. Lee said he attended the forum but was not given the chance to speak due to the fact that there were not enough questions submitted.

“I’m very proud that the coroner’s office has seen tremendous improvement over the last 12 years,” he said.

“I think we’ve served both the city and county well in the past, and I will continue to do everything I can possibly do to do the best job I can for the residents of Natchez and Adams County.”

The Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce will also host two more political events this month. “Friday Forums” will be from 8 to 9 a.m. July 22 and July 29.