It’s time we got benefit from representation

Published 1:24 pm Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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Natchez and Adams County need and want an elected school board. We have made that clear.

It is an issue that has support across a broad swath of our community, including residents of all races and political make up.

It’s time our representatives in the legislature advance that effort on our behalf.

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Natchez and Adams County residents had the opportunity to question two of our area’s legislator’s Monday morning at the Natchez Convention Center during the Natchez Adams County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Forum.

Again this year, attendance by our elected representatives was poor. Hats off to state Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, who attended in person, as he did last year. Thanks, too, to state Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb, who attended the forum virtually.

State Rep. Angela Cockerham, D-Magnolia, who is an attorney, did not attend because she had to be in court. State Sen. Melanie Sojourner, R-Natchez, notified a Chamber official on Saturday that she could not attend because of a doctor’s appointment.

Having contact with our elected representatives is critical to the well being of Natchez and Adams County and moving forward many of the issues that will allow us to progress as a community.

An issue important to many here is the need to replace our current appointed Natchez Adams School District board with one that is elected. Several years ago, both the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen and the Adams County Board of Supervisors passed non-binding resolutions seeking a school board that is elected by voters.

Legislators representing Natchez and Adams County, including Johnson, were lobbied to pass legislation to allow that to happen here. However, such legislation never was considered because our legislators would not advance the issue.

It is widely thought that former state Rep. Phillip West, who served a term as mayor and also served on the county’s board of supervisors, quashed that effort, using his political clout. In the early summer of 2019, West in a meeting in The Democrat office said he would be in favor of an elected school board, as long as one did not jeopardize the building of a new high school.

When asked about the issue on Monday, Johnson said Adams County is divided on the issue of an elected school board.

We certainly are not.

An elected school board here won’t happen unless our legislators champion the issue in the state legislature to allow it.

Those who represent Natchez and Adams County should consider this issue one that is important among their constituents. And Natchez and Adams County residents should come together in a formal way to make certain our elected representatives know they should support the legislation quickly, otherwise, their jobs will be in jeopardy on election day.