Candidates for sheriff, district attorney, other races meet in second night of forum

Published 5:32 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Significantly fewer people attended night two of the Candidates Forum Tuesday, which featured candidates for sheriff, justice court judge southern district, district attorney, northern district constable and county prosecutor.

The forum was presented by the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce and Listen Up Y’all Media.

Of the three candidates for sheriff, two will meet in the Aug. 8 party primary — incumbent Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten and challenger Lance Adams.

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Independent candidate Curtis Davis will meet the primary winner in the Nov. 7 general election.

Patten began the event with an opening statement, thanking his staff, supporters and the community.

He referred to the “sea of gold,” which he said were his extended family, brothers, sisters, brother-in-law and friends and supporters, who turned out to the event wearing Patten for Sheriff gold shirts, taking up most of a section of seating.

“I can’t leave out the community. I can’t thank you enough for the support you’ve given me over the last eight years that I have been sheriff,” Patten said. “Eight years ago, this community cried out for change because they felt like they haven’t been heard or they felt like their concerns were going unmet. We came in, we invaded every school, every church, every program that we have in this community eight years ago, and have consistently done that since. You can’t go anywhere without seeing a sheriff’s deputy or myself on the program, showing the love that has been shown to us, giving it back to you each time.”

The sheriff discussed the hardships of COVID, when the sheriff’s office’s non-essential workers were sent home and a skeleton crew was left to carry on.

“You never knew we were working short-handed because we answered the call each and every day, never missing a beat with the staff that remained. I can’t thank the men and women of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office enough for stepping up and rising to that challenge,” he said.

As a result of COVID, Patten said, unrest broke out all over the country because of mental health issues and anguish.

“Uprisings began, but we were ahead of that. We reminded the citizens of Adams County what they had here,” he said. “This is not the time to change paths. This is the chance we have now to re-elect me as sheriff and continue to rise together. In the meantime, take a look at for more information. Thank you for having me as your sheriff and I ask you to re-elect me on Aug. 8.”

Lance Adams said he is from Natchez and began his career at the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

“While I was there, I had a pretty successful career. I was able to help a lot of people. One of the highlights was I was involved in an incident where we saved a young 4-year-old’s life, Brandon Marshall. I received a commendation from the board of supervisors for that,” he said.

He said he left the sheriff’s office and began work with the University of Southern Mississippi Police Department in Hattiesburg, where he continues to work. He began as a patrol officer and is currently the lieutenant commander over investigations. He said he also provides protection for dignitaries who visit the campus.

“I am also over internal affairs and have had several internal affairs investigations so I am well versed in officer misconduct and how to address that,” Adams said.

He also said he has been a recipient of the Hattiesburg 100 Award, which goes to outstanding law enforcement officers.

Curtis Davis introduced himself, saying he is a native of Natchez, attending Natchez Public Schools from Carpenter Elementary, graduating from Natchez High School.

“When I graduated from Natchez High, I went over to Southern Mississippi and there, ran out of money. I joined the Army and got a $36,000 GI Bill and so I went to school on that as well as served our country.”

Davis served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“My last tour of duty was with the United Nations and I had an opportunity to see global terrorism on a large, world scale,” Davis said. “We had 29 nations at that time, operating for one cause, which was to combat terrorism.”

After leaving the Army, Davis said he went to work at the Hattiesburg Police Department.

“I served on patrol over there. Then, I went from there to special operations and I went to the training department, where I became a state-certified trainer. Then, I went to the detective division,” he said.

While training at the Hattiesburg Department, he said he became a nationally accredited police officer.

Davis said he is the “proud son” of two sets of parents — James Young and Gloria Davis and Jimmi and the late Phil Vasser.

“With that said, I have a wealth of experience in law enforcement and I entered this race to bring about a change in Adams County. I’m here to take us into the 21st century and my goal is to lay out a plan and earn your respect and your vote on Nov. 7,” said.

District Attorney

Incumbent Sixth Circuit District Attorney Shameca Collins is unopposed in the Aug. 8 primary but faces challenger Tim Cotton, a Natchez attorney, who is running as an independent, in the general election on Nov. 7.

“I began work as your district attorney in January 2020 and in March 2020, the world stopped,” Collins said. “We had COVID, but we couldn’t stop. Adams County was one of the first counties in the state to have a trial during COVID and we had it in this very room.”

Collins said during her term, she expanded drug court to other counties within the sixth district — “It used to be just in Adams County,” — and began a program called pre-trial intervention, “which is diversion. Everyone who commits a crime does not necessarily need to go to prison. Some people just need attention, and that’s what we give them in pre-trial intervention.

“We’ve had more trials in the last three years than in the previous 10 years before. And we’re not just having trials, we are winning trials,” she said.

Cotton said he has been practicing law for 18 years and has served as an assistant district attorney and is currently serving as city prosecutor. He has been married for 27 years and has a 17-year-old son who is in high school.

“We talk about crime and effective leadership as a district attorney. I will tell you my flaw on the front end: I’m not a politician. I’m not real good at politics, but I do believe in prosecuting cases. Prosecution comes without politics,” Cotton said. “Quite frankly, there is a solution that comes in 10 very simple steps. That is, follow the 10 commandments. If we followed the Ten Commandments, you wouldn’t need Ms. Collins. You wouldn’t need me; you wouldn’t need the judges or the court systems. But as a population, we don’t follow the Ten Commandments.

“I am running because I believe in being a strong, tough, fair-minded prosecutor. I’ve tried cases in each of these four districts, tried cases that have changed state law. It’s impossible in two minutes to give a summary of what an agenda is, except for me to say this: I understand reform and it seems like we keep talking about justice reform, but if you are reforming a community to be reformed for a defender’s actions, who are we asking to be reformed? I think it should be vice versa. And I intend to be tough but fair.”

The forum also included questions to the five candidates seeking the job of Justice Court Judge for the Southern District 2 — Jack Blaney, Danny Barber, incumbent Eileen Maher, Tim Blalock and Mary Willard — as well as candidates for Constable Northern District 1 — Deselle Davis and Fay Minor.

Candidates for county prosecutor — incumbent Tony Heidelberg and challenger Roberta Blackmon — also gave a statement and answered questions.