Campbell says goodbye to public service after 24 years

Published 12:04 am Thursday, December 22, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Thomas “Boo” Campbell has served as an Adams County supervisor for 24 years. He officially enters retirement in January, and he’s quick to admit he’s looking forward to it. His political career began in 1989 after quitting his job as a policeman with the Natchez Police Department.

NATCHEZ — After 24 years, Thomas “Boo” Campbell figures it’s time for a rest.

Campbell started his political career in 1989, quitting his job as a policeman only two years away from retirement so he could run for Adams County’s third district supervisor’s seat.

The police job was stressful, and he wanted a change. That change took him through five election cycles and a career longer than his time in the police department.

His initial decision to run was based in part on a desire to make sure things happened, Campbell said.

“I thought I could get some things done,” he said. “I thought that if I wanted to see something get done, I would do it myself.”

Going in, his goals were simple — make life a little easier for the people.

And now that he’s finished his last meeting and is leaving the post he spent two decades in, Campbell said he takes the most pride in the fact that he feels he was able to do just that.

“(I am proudest) of being able to do a lot for people, to bring everything together and make it better for people — that was always my objective,” he said.

That wasn’t always easy.

Being a supervisor meant late-night telephone calls, people banging at his door after hours, having to field constituents upset about any number of issues.

“Being an elected official is a hard job,” Campbell said.

“Look at the (U.S.) presidents — when they go in, they’re young and black headed, and when they come out they’re old and have a head full of white hair.”

At the end, however, Campbell said he feels like he was able to maneuver the waters of public servitude without too much damage.

Reflecting on how time has treated the presidents, he said, “I was able to get out with my health, and that’s something.”

Even in good health, a person can only work at a job for so long, and Campbell said he had considered bowing out before the 2008 election.

“I love people, but I got tired,” he said. “I did the best I could, and I had people coming out of the woodwork asking me to run.”

Knowing that he was serving his last term with no plans to run again didn’t change his perspective on governing, but Campbell said that when he was approached about running one last time, he already knew his answer.

“You have to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em,” he said. “It was time (to fold).”

Not everything during his tenure was perfect, and Campbell said there were times when the board didn’t always work together.

Likewise, he said there were a few things he would do different if he had been given a second chance.

One of those happened this year, when the supervisors voted not to raise taxes, he said.

“I shouldn’t have voted against (a tax increase),” he said.

“If you are going to keep your current level of government moving, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I think we dropped the ball on that.”

For now, Campbell said he doesn’t have an agenda.

He’ll be spending his time at his screen-printing business and at his wife’s boutique, among other things.

There’s one thing he is certain about, however.

“Come what may, I will see what comes out, but I don’t want any more politics — I am sure of that.”