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Members of newly-elected Board of Supervisors discuss next term

NATCHEZ — When the Adams County Board of Supervisors convenes in January it will have three new board members.

In the Democratic Party primary held in August, newcomer Wes Middleton defeated incumbent Mike Lazarus for the District 1 supervisor’s seat. No independent or Republicans ran for the office so Middleton won in the primary.

In the race for District 2 supervisor, Republican newcomer Kevin Wilson defeated incumbent independent candidate David Carter in Tuesday’s general election.

In District 3, incumbent Democratic candidate Angela Hutchins survived a challenge from independent candidates Wilbert Whitley and Brandon McCranie.

In District 4, incumbent Democratic candidate James “Rickey” Gray survived a challenge from independent candidate Jaquetta McCranie.

In District 5, incumbent Democratic candidate Calvin Butler lost to Democratic challenger Warren Gaines in the primary and Gaines prevailed over Republican challenger Cleotha Marsaw and independent challenger Lee Blanton in the general election.

Below the newly elected and reelected supervisors talked about the plans for their terms and prospects of working together with the fellow board members when the new board convenes in January

Adams County District 1 Supervisor Wes Middleton

Wes Middleton said he expects to do “a lot of learning” after he takes office in January.

As he gets more comfortable with the new position, Middleton said he hopes to begin to tackle two issues he thinks are critical to Natchez and Adams County.

“I want us to look deeply into a resolution of the recreation issue,” Middleton said. “I also want to look into getting the school system onboard with vocational training.”

Middleton said adding vocational training to the schools is of utmost importance to the future of Natchez and Adams County.

“I think we are failing the community if we don’t try to get that.”

Middleton said he is excited about the opportunity to join the board and is looking forward to the next four years.

Middleton said he looks forward to working with his fellow supervisors.

“With three changes, there is going to be a transition,” Middleton said. “A fresh start will be good.”

With such a change, Middleton said he expects there to be a period where everyone will have to listen to each other.

Middleton said in the event differences on the board come up on the issues, he believes the board will be able to come to a resolution and find common goals.

“I expect everyone is there for the right reason to make Natchez and Adams County a better place,” Middleton said. “That is why I ran for office — to help Natchez and Adams County grow.”

Middleton said he believes current board attorney Scott Slover and county administrator Joe Murray are a very strong asset to the county and have a lot of valuable experience.

Adams County District 2 Supervisor Kevin Wilson

Kevin Wilson, owner of Blackjack Oil Co. and other services, said he plans to oversee county spending as he would his businesses and put taxpayer dollars to their best use.

“I can’t do it by myself,” Wilson said.  “I need all the help in the world — like a business. We’ve got businessmen in office … and they’ve got to cut spending and quit divvying out money like it’s theirs. It’s not theirs. It’s the taxpayers’, and we’re supposed to take care of it. I assume that’s what I was hired to do. People may take things I say the wrong way sometimes, but the bottom line is I want what’s best for Adams County. I have a lot at stake here — houses, businesses, all my children are here and 10 grandchildren are here. I’ve got Natchez and Adams County at heart.”

Within a day of his victory, Wilson said he has spoken with almost all of the supervisors and plans to work with the veterans on the board as well as county employees such as Adams County Administrator Joe Murray and the board attorney Scott Slover as he transitions into office.

“I want to work with everybody, and I believe that is the only way to do it,” Wilson said. “… It’s a big task and to be honest I have no idea how big it is. I will learn a lot as I go. I have run several businesses and have been in business for myself for 30 years, so I have an idea. I know how it works. I’ve been taking care of people since I was 15 years old. Taking care of the people in this county shouldn’t be a whole lot different — just more of them.”

District 2 Supervisor David Carter said he congratulates the winners of the election after a difficult race and respects the three supervisors who will be newly sworn in.

“Natchez is home and I will continue supporting my community,” Carter said. “I’m currently running one of the top Honda ATV dealerships in the country and plan to continue doing that. I support those who won and stand behind them as our elected leaders as everyone else should. They are the ones leading now and I wish them all good luck in whatever they do.”

District 3 Supervisor Angela Hutchins

Angela Hutchins  said she is thankful to the voters of District 3 for entrusting her with another four years in office.

“I thank my constituents, but I believe the victory is more theirs than it is mine,” Hutchins said.

Hutchins said she believes the board will work together to accomplish what is needed for Adams County.

“It is not about us. It is about what is best for the county,” Hutchins said. “We need to stay focused on what is important for the community.”

Hutchins said she wants to focus on recreation and economic development in her new term.

“I want to make sure we get our ballfields and parks up to par,” Hutchins said. “I want to work with Natchez, Inc., to get the jobs we need here.”

When the new term begins, Hutchins said she would do what she can to help train and inform incoming board members.

“They are new and will not have the experience,” Hutchins said.

She hopes that all board members will take the time to learn from each other, even if they sometimes disagree.

“Sometimes it is just good to listen and learn,” Hutchins said. “As long as we see eye to eye, it will be OK.”

Hutchins said she does not foresee a change in the appointments for board attorney and county administrator.

Adams County District 4 Supervisor James “Rickey” Gray

James “Rickey” Gray said he is grateful to God and the voters of District 4 for re-electing him to his position.

“I would like to thank my opponent because she ran a clean race,” Gray said. “There wasn’t any mudslinging or things like that. I appreciate that, too.”

Gray said he would focus his efforts in his next term on economic development and recreation.

“Once we get some jobs in here,” Gray said, “people will have some opportunity to make some money and then maybe they can be at home with their family and they won’t have to work two and three jobs to make ends meet.”

Gray said he believes he can work well with the other members of the incoming board.

“One of the main things I think is going to be crucially important to Natchez and Adams County is making sure we are all on the same page,” Gray said. “We are not ever going to agree on everything, but it is really important that once we disagree on an issue that we don’t fall out as a board, because once we do that then everybody loses. It doesn’t make any difference what kind of personalities are on that board, if they are focused on moving Adams County forward then I don’t have any problem working with people. I don’t ever have any problem working with people. I’m a team player, and I have always been a team player.”

Gray said he believes Slover is doing a good job.

“I just can’t see me making a change right now, because I think he (Slover) is doing a good job,” Gray said, adding he believes Murray is doing a good job in his position as well.

“At one of our (statewide) meetings one of the auditors was there from the state auditor’s office, and he made a comment and used Adams County as an example of how to do things right,” Gray said. “It gave Joe some credit so he is probably one of the best administrators around. That’s the way I feel.”

Adams County District 5 Supervisor Warren Gaines

Warren Gaines said he is happy to be elected to the District 5 position.

“I would like to thank first of all the Lord and second the voters for coming out and voting and supporting me,” Gaines said. “I would like to stress that my family worked so hard with me and stuck by me and helped make it all possible. I am looking forward to serving the citizens of Adams County to the best of my ability to work on economic development and make sure we touch on our vocational education and all the other areas that we need to be touching on. I look forward to working with the board to try to work together to try to bring Natchez forward.”

Gaines said he believes he can work well with the incoming board.

“We all should have one common goal and that’s to help improve Natchez and Adams County for all of the citizens,” Gaines said. “We should have that one common goal. We should be able to work with everybody on the board to try to grow jobs, work on our failing infrastructure and definitely work to improve our educational system.”

Gaines said he would like to keep board of supervisors attorney Slover and administrator Murray on.

“I’m actually not going in looking to move anybody,” Gaines said. “I don’t have a problem with Scott Slover. I would not have a problem working with the administrator or the attorney.”

County Administrator
Joe Murray

Joe Murray, who has worked as the county administrator for nine years, said he plans to continue working for the new administration.

“I’m not planning on going anywhere,” Murray said. “I’ve never seen an election where officials didn’t change. People vote however they are going to vote and people come and go. That’s why we have elections. I’ll be there for anything the new supervisors need to know from me. I welcome new people because they are going to be asking questions and I look forward to helping them in any way I can.”

Murray said he would also miss having supervisors Calvin Butler, Mike Lazarus and David Carter on the board.

“I hate to see the others go, I really do,” Murray said. “I’ve worked with them for so long they are almost part of my family.”

Murray said he is also looking forward to whatever changes the Board of Supervisors has planned after January.

“There’s going to be some new ideas now,” Murray said. “Why else would you run unless you want to change something? There’s nothing wrong with change. It’s my job to support the Board of Supervisors. I’m there to support them, period. As long as they’re willing to learn, they will do great.”

Murray said his biggest concern is for the newly elected tax collector, tax assessor and circuit clerk while they are learning to serve in those positions.

“They all have a big job to do and that is going to be a big change where there’s you three new officials,” he said. “I hope it all works out for the best.”

Adams County Board of Supervisors Attorney
Scott Slover

Scott Slover said he is excited at the prospect of working with the new board.

“I’m excited to work with people with fresh ideas,” Slover said, “and I’m sure they had inspirations to run for office. It’s a real brave thing to sign up to run for office. It takes a lot of guts, and you’ve got to have an inspiration to do it.”

Slover said he is excited to work with the new supervisors.

“At the same time, you’re also sad to lose three supervisors that you’ve worked for as well, because you’ve worked for them for eight years, and they are like a family as well,” Slover said. “It is happy on one hand and sad to see the others go.”

Slover said he loves serving as the board’s attorney.

“The supervisor job is professionally satisfying,” Slover said. “It’s academically satisfying and even spiritually satisfying. It is a tough job. It is a really wonderful job because it is so many facets of life that you get to go through so I intend to work and continue to prove myself as an asset to the county and hopefully they will keep me until I’m not an asset to the county.”

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