District 4 Adams County Supervisor candidates address issues

Published 12:16 am Saturday, June 29, 2019

Today The Natchez Democrat profiles the three candidates vying for the Adams County District 4 Supervisor seat.

Incumbent candidate James “Rickey” Gray and challenger Rita Bernard Brooks are both running as Democrats.

The other candidate Jacquetta McCranie is running as an independent.

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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? 

Rita Bernard Brooks:  I am qualified, educated and I represent the “CHANGE” that is required for the turbulent times that we are currently witnessing.

New Vote…, New Voice…, New Vision…, New Vitality!

As a native of Natchez, a law-abiding citizen and taxpayer, I am also concerned about how our tax dollars are spent, our economic future, community development, infrastructure improvement, job losses, crime prevention, career opportunities, recreation and education.

Although presently retired, I have a vast array of diverse past work experiences in both the public and private sector, ranging from entrepreneurship to corporation, law enforcement and academics at the secondary and collegiate level.

I am a graduate of Jackson State and Alcorn State University. I hold a B.S. in Criminal Justice, MS Ed. in Guidance Education and MS in Workforce Education Leadership.  Additionally, I possess the workforce skills necessary to be an effective leader as your next District 4 Supervisor.

James “Rickey” Gray: I have 19 years of public service in Natchez and Adams County first as a four-term Alderman in the City of Natchez and currently ending my first term as Supervisor of District 4.

I have worked diligently to stay in touch with my constituency and I have a proven track record of service to the citizens of District 4.

I have worked to improve drainage problems, better roads and bridges, worked with neighborhood organizations and championed citizens access to local government.

I have utilized my knowledge and contacts with the United States Corp of Engineers, DEQ, USDA and EWP to improve the quality of life of my constituents. I brought the Special Needs Assistance Program to the city and county.

Jacquetta McCranie: My passion is for Natchez to return to its former glory. By the grace of God I was born in Natchez/Adams County and have lived here my whole life! I attended school here even attended Co-Lin Natchez. In my life I have visited many places but was always glad to come home to Natchez. I envision a Natchez/Adams County where our children do not have to leave to find jobs or families separated because parents have to travel for work.

2. What is the biggest issue facing the Adams County Voters in the district you are running in?

Rita Bernard Brooks: “Change!” We are in dire need of change in District 4. With so much going on in the district, it is very difficult to pinpoint just one biggest issue facing us: poor economy, crumbling infrastructure, limited or no road maintenance, decline in population and property values, crime explosion and overall moral decay, job losses, insufficient career opportunities, lack of educational advancement and recreation are all major issues in District 4. We need more of a united effort amongst county and city officials to help combat many of these deplorable conditions. Voters of District 4, the time is now. Let’s stand together in support of our community. A change in leadership will do us all good. A New Vote…, New Voice…, New Vision…, New Vitality!

James “Rickey” Gray: The composition of the soil in Adams County lends itself to continued and extensive erosion problems of public and private property. As the Supervisor of District 4, I have worked diligently with the National Resource Conservation Service to assist homeowners. Approximately 10 properties in District 4 have revived assistance under the national Emergency Watershed Program to sustain the properties and stop erosion. I also believe that proving adequate fire protection for all of the citizens of Adams County is an important issue facing the citizens of District 4. The county is currently developing a strategic plan to address emergency needs and the training of first responders. Through providing “state-of-the-art” fire protection for all of Adams County, our fire rating would be lowered thus providing insurance savings on both personal property and business entities.

Jacquetta McCranie: The biggest issue I have seen while talking to everyone is people thinking their vote will not change things. Every vote counts! Your one vote can be the game-changer. Voting is a privilege that all should partake in. It takes all of us working together as a community to make the decisions. Voting is the best way to have your voice heard. Pray up and go to the polls.

3. What are two main objectives you would want to accomplish if elected to the Adams County Supervisor position you are seeking?

Rita Bernard Brooks: If elected Adams County District 4 Supervisor, two main objectives that I would want to accomplish are the establishment of a district task force to assist with conducting a Needs Assessment Survey which would serve as a catalyst for “CHANGE”.

Another objective would be to begin a grassroots effort, also within the district, to network with other communities in formulating partnerships on a regional level to achieve defined or stated goals for the entire community.

To sum it up, the crux of the matter is funding! Every effort would be to generate additional resources or funds to ultimately facilitate county-wide improvements, growth, and prosperity.

James “Rickey” Gray: Continue to improve the quality of life of the citizens in District 4 and Adams County, where everyone in our county has a voice and where each of those voices are heard. Develop a comprehensive plan with the citizens’ participation with goals and objectives of where we are, where we need to be and how to get there. Provide adequate Fire Protection for all of the citizens of Adams County.

Jacquetta McCranie: First is the hot topic at the moment, the roads! I live down Morgantown Road, and it is horrible! The potholes are unbelievable and there are several places that if you went over to the shoulder you might lose a tire. We have so many county roads that are in bad shape. We cannot keep patching at them. They need to be repaired properly.

The other is jobs! We need them big to small. I do not want our children to leave to find employment. Bringing jobs in helps to keep families and our community unified.

4. What experience do you have that uniquely qualifies you for the Adams County Supervisor position you are seeking?

Rita Bernard Brooks: Having lived in Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi, for the majority of my entire life, “my real-life experiences” uniquely qualify me for the position I am currently seeking as your next District 4 Supervisor.

I meet the qualifications as set by Mississippi state statutes. Additionally, I possess the knowledge, ability, communication, workforce and leadership skills necessary to fulfill the requirements of this position. I also have an aptitude and willingness to learn any other duties as required to properly supervise in this district.

Voters of Natchez Adams County, District 4, your support and vote is most appreciative! See you at the polls on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019.

James “Rickey” Gray: I have 19 years of public service experience in Natchez and Adams County. I am the first elected official in Adams County to be certified by the Mississippi Municipal League through extensive training and classes. I have continued my training as a supervisor through the Mississippi Association of Supervisors. I have the wisdom, knowledge and understanding of how government operates. Over the years, I have built relationships and resources that will enable us to continue to build roads and bridges for our county.

Jacquetta McCranie: I am a hard worker and a quick study. When presented a task I do not give up! I will work with it until it is completed. I am not afraid to get out there and work for all of Adams County!

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?

Rita Bernard Brooks: The city and county have been presented with several options for consolidating governmental services. Do you favor consolidation, and if so, in what form?

Based on the city-sponsored fact-finding forums that I recently attended, I would not be an advocate for consolidation of city/county government.

Moreover, with all the aforementioned major issues, especially inclusive of the lack of jobs and many business closures, I would be hard-pressed and reluctant to support consolidated governmental services as well.

My earnest opinion is that governmental consolidation efforts would be a substantial waste of taxpayers’ dollars. The forums allowed me an opportunity to clearly understand that consolidation would not be in the best interest of our entire community. Furthermore, the legal and constitutional requirements and/or restraints to bring consolidation of county/city government to fruition would be an insurmountable task. On behalf of the generations to come, we must think more progressively and act now for real and positive change. Let’s stand together in support of our community. Equality for everyone!

James “Rickey” Gray: Natchez is the oldest city of the Mississippi River and I am not in favor or abolishing Natchez as a municipality and eliminating all eight elected city government positions. I totally support areas of government that the city and county are currently working cohesively together to provide better services for all of the citizens of Adams County. The key to achieving overall success in Adams County lies deeply in our collective commitment to cooperation among each other. It will not be found by fighting amongst ourselves for or against government consolidation. As an elected official, I will always be a champion for collective cooperation rather than chaotic consolidation.

Jacquetta McCranie: To be honest I am undecided. I think consolidation may be good in some areas, but may not work well in others.  So my opinion is still forming as I learn more about the process more.