District 3 Adams County Supervisor candidates address issues
Today The Natchez Democrat profiles the four candidates vying for the Adams County District 3 Supervisor seat.
Incumbent candidate Angela Hutchins and challenger Elizabeth Ann Ford Jones are both running as Democrats. The other two candidates Brandon McCranie and Wilbert Whittley are both running as independents.
The Adams County Supervisor’s duties are outlined below as summarized from Mississippi state statutes by the Mississippi State University Extension service.
“Boards of supervisors have authority to regulate the county’s affairs within the limits of state law. Supervisors are delegated with a variety of public duties. They have full authority over county roads, ferries, bridges, county law enforcement, collections, fines and levying taxes.
“The board of supervisors appoints some county officials. The board is responsible for guiding and establishing policy for the complex multi-million dollar budgets of county government.
“Supervisors make decisions that directly impact economic development, public health, safety and welfare of county citizens.”
All candidates submitted responses to the same five questions given to them by The Natchez Democrat. Candidates’ answers were limited to no more than 150 words.
1. Why should Adams County voters elect you to serve as the supervisor in your district?
Angela Hutchins: There are many reasons Adams County voters should re-elect me to continue to serve as supervisor in District 3. Since having been elected, I have proven myself by my accomplishments in lobbying and receiving over $1.5 million in state/federal funds to replace and improve Deerfield Bridge as well as $3 million in USDA Emergency Watershed Project funds, which saved homes, infrastructures and businesses. Also, I have rebuilt the LaGrange Community Center, created the Summer Feeding Program for children ages 3-18 and implemented the Summer Work Program giving over 100 youths employment. My track record reflects improvement of infrastructure both inside and outside of District 3. Additionally, I make sure that the roads in District 3 get the care they need, paving over 16 miles of county and city roads.
Above all, I always listen to my constituents, communicate back to them, and do everything within my power to help them.
Elizabeth Ann Ford Jones: I will be honest and fair for all citizens of District 3 as your next supervisor. In District 3, we must have better roads and our potholes will be fixed. Those patch-up roads will be just patch ups no more. Our roads will be smooth to drive on again. I will send a worker to class to lean the right way for better improvement. In recreation, it is a must. We cannot stay the same in District 3. When businesses see our improvements in our roads, they will want to come here. Together, District 3 citizens, a change will come.
Brandon McCranie: I’m a lifelong Natchez resident who’s sincerely passionate about our community. I’m outgoing, hardworking and dedicated to trying to make things better for everyone in my district and Natchez, Adams County as a whole. I have strong communication skills and a willingness to work with others to move our community in a positive direction. I vow to take a strong stand against any decisions that I feel aren’t right for the taxpayers. I understand that, as supervisor, I am an employee of the people of Adams County. I will work for them! I recently married for the first time, and I will do whatever it takes to provide a prosperous future for my wife and children. A future I believe can happen right here in Natchez.
Wilbert Whitley: I was born and raised right here in Natchez-Adams County, and have true love for this community that I call home. I want you to trust in me to make the best decisions for community. I’ve worked in city government for 17 years and as the recreation director for the last two years. Prior to that I was employed with the Natchez-Adams School District for 20 years as a teacher and coach. I have a vested interest in improving Adams County to make sure that our roads and bridges are maintained to the highest standers and to make sure our taxpayers’ money is spent wisely.
2. What is the biggest issue facing the Adams County voters in the district you are running in?
Angela Hutchins: While speaking to District 3 constituents, I hear the biggest issues facing Adams County are the economy and recreation. I want District 3 voters to know that government does not govern job creation, but may provide both a quality of life and infrastructure that attracts good-paying jobs. Each year my top priority is the improvement of infrastructure and recreation so that industries will want to locate here. The County puts a minimum of $500,000 in recreation a year. Also, I lobbied and received $10 million in grant funds for rail improvements for the Natchez rail and over $1.5 million to build the Belwood levee. I also always voted to give new businesses the most competitive tax packages to create more jobs. My focus is to continue to provide infrastructure, such as lobbying for Interstate 14.
Elizabeth Ann Ford Jones: In District 3, bad potholes and bad roads are the biggest problems, and when I hear a parent saying, “I have nowhere for my children to play,” that is heart-breaking, because we must remember our children are our future, and we must have more and better recreation and improved on those that we have and mentor our children. When you elect me, change will come.
Brandon McCranie: I feel the biggest concern for people in my district is a need for better jobs. Natchez depends too much on tourism. Tourism is great, but most of those dollars stay in the city and in the downtown area specifically. I’d like to see industry return to our area, and in order for that to happen, we need to improve our school system, get tougher on crime and sentencing, and we need to provide job education to our workforce. I’ve always believed that our biggest asset is our people. Over the past decade or so, our leaders have failed the citizens of Natchez, Adams County.
Wilbert Whitley: We have got to find a way to stop the closing of all our area businesses, and we need more jobs. I have been told that there are plenty of jobs available in the area but the applicants don’t have the skills that are required for employment, so this tells me that we need to find a way to work with the school district and area colleges to teach the vocational skills needed for these jobs.
3. What are two main objectives you would want to accomplish if elected to the Adams County Supervisor position you are seeking?
Angela Hutchins: Natchez, Inc. employs an economic development director to lobby for jobs. I will continue to support him by appropriating funds and incentives for new industries. I would like to see our economy built from the middle-out, meaning helping small businesses expand into large businesses. This will make the economy grow. When work is strong, Americans are strong. For example, I supported Delta Energy Group, which started as 30 jobs and now has over 100. Great River Industries started with 100 jobs and now has over 200. River Pulp had 20 jobs, and now von Drehle has over 100 jobs. I would like the county to build a fire department on the north and south ends of the county. When you have more fire protection, you get better fire ratings, which help homeowners’ insurance rates.
Elizabeth Ann Ford Jones: As your supervisor for District 3, our roads will be fixed where our citizens’ cars, trucks, or whatever, are driven, can ride on a smooth roads, where our roads will attract new businesses. They will want to come and bring back business to our beautiful county of District 3, Natchez.
Brandon McCranie: First, it’s very important for me to see the Board of Supervisors work together. We need a united vision and voice.
Secondly, I think too many tax dollars are spent internally on salaries and needless positions. We desperately need to trim some fat.
Wilbert Whitley: My main objective is to develop a road and bridge repair program so that our roads are being repaired every year and not every four years. And, to give our recreation and entertainment venture the needed push it needs for our youth and senior citizens.
4. What experience do you have that uniquely qualifies you for the Adams County Supervisor position you are seeking?
Angela Hutchins: First, running Adams County is like running a business. I have an extensive education in business, holding a BS degree in Office Administration and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Alcorn State University and Alcorn School of Business. Second, I have a tremendous amount of county government experience. I have over two decades of working in the office of the Board of Supervisors and eight years as a county supervisor. I have 31 years of county governmental experience. I have the education, experience, capability and knowledge for the office of Adams County Supervisor.
Elizabeth Ann Ford Jones: I have been in business since 1995 and throughout the years, I have had a number of mentors who taught me in all areas of business. I have always in this area of supervisors ridden around on the roads and seen the need, so I said, “One day I am going to run for supervisor.” Now I have arrived. So on Aug. 6 make Elizabeth Ann Ford Jones Supervisor District 3.
Brandon McCranie: I studied Education and Art in college at Delta State University. I know the importance of providing a quality education to our children. As an artist and musician I’ve worked with numerous local events. I’ve even been the organizer for several. I know what it takes to go from an idea to bringing that idea to fruition and doing so within a set budget. I’ve also worked in the service industry and, until recently, was a voice on a few of our local radio stations. Working in radio provided me the opportunity to meet many of our business owners and community leaders. It also helped me hone my communication skills.
Wilbert Whitley: I have the ability to communicate and contacts in other communities that will come in handy when trying to bring projects to Adams County. I oversee and maintain the entire city of Natchez recreation budget. I am a hard-worker, and there is not a job out there that I would not assist my employees with.
5. The city and county have been presented with several options for consolidating governmental services. Do you favor consolidation, and if so, in what form?
Angela Hutchins: I feel like these discussions are positive and we need to continue to have them transparently and inclusively with the city, county and public. Consolidation, if it is ultimately decided in the interest of everyone in the county, needs to occur cooperatively with city and county officials and with the consent of the public. I have supported consolidation when it makes sense with everyone, such as the consolidated tax collection/assessment, 911 dispatchers, recreation, fire protection and our county jail.
Even if the city stays independent, if you reside in District 3 — whether inside or outside city limits — I will do everything in my power to solve your issues within the bounds of the law. I do not pass the buck.
Elizabeth Ann Ford Jones: No consolidation in the area of District 3, because the city has always stood for itself and the county has always stood for itself. No consolidation.
Brandon McCranie: I agree that consolidation is needed for us. Taxpayers are paying for too many salaries. I honestly believe the Board of Supervisors could handle their responsibilities as well as those of the Aldermen. I understand that by consolidating, people will lose jobs. Unfortunately, sacrifices will have to be made if we’re to move our community forward. We need to get back to the basics. A smaller, more dedicated local government working, not for a hefty salary with benefits, but for the future of our wonderful city.
Wilbert Whitley: There are already some services in city and county government that are working but to totally consolidate county and city government would not be wise to the taxpayers. The city collects sales tax and sends it to the state. The state takes their portion out and then sends the city theirs. Sales tax in the county goes straight to the state, and they keep all of it. So why would we want to consolidate and give the state all of our money? For that reason alone I would not support full consolidation.