Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 26, 2001

ASouth Ward Republicans

[04/26/01] [04/26/01] In anticipation of Tuesday’s party primary elections, The Vicksburg Post mailed all candidates 15 questions with a promise to print their full responses.

The series continues with Republicans who will be on a ballot in the South Ward.

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They are:

Sidney H. Beauman Jr., 52, director of the Vicksburg Parks and Recreation Department.

Sam Smith, 37, co-manager of a restaurant.

Voters in the South Ward will have to choose whether to vote a Republican Party ballot or a Democratic Party ballot. It is illegal to vote both. Only the Democratic Party ballot will include the mayoral primary between Eric Rawlings, 38, and Robert Walker, 56.

On Friday, the responses of Democrat Pam Johnson, 35, will be published. Democrat Carl Marshall Upton, 40, did not return a questionnaire.

Responses of the party nominees will be repeated and those of South Ward independents Vickie Bailey, 33, and Ashlea Mosely, 18, will be printed before the June 5 general election.

Question 1. During the next four years, should Vicksburg use its annexation powers to add areas to the corporate limits? If so, what areas should be added?

Beauman: I would only answer this question after being advised by department heads as to costs and recovery of same. We still have not taken care of the last annexed area. An educated guess is not in the next four years. See Question 4.

Smith: Most municipalities use the annexation power to increase their tax base. During the next four years I would oppose any annexation until the City of Vicksburg provided all of the city services it promised to the areas annexed over a decade ago. To take on any more would be completely fiscally irresponsible.

Question 2. Unlike many other governments, Vicksburg’s officials are empowered to raise their own compensation. Would you vote for or against an ordinance that makes any raises for elected officials approved in one administration not effective until the next administration?

Beauman: This basic concept is good, but I feel needs to be worked on somewhat. I think limits as to how much of an increase can be given should be established and adhered to. Also, what if revenues dropped by 30 percent? Should pay cuts not take place at that time? There should definitely be a system in place to address the pay, or lack thereof, for elected officials and I would vote in favor of same. Remember, city government spending can only be based on revenues. In the private sector, the CEO can be terminated the first time he fails; elected officials are in place for a term. This calls for better regulations.

Smith: I would vote for an ordinance that would prohibit the Mayor and Board of Aldermen from raising their salaries during their term of office.

Question 3. Given what you know about the cost of living and the responsibilities of the offices you seek, what would you consider to be a fair salary for alderman? For mayor?

Beauman: With the size of the present budget and the responsibilities that must be taken on, I feel that an alderman’s salary should be $49,000-$53,000 and the mayor’s $60,000 to $65,000.

Smith: I feel that the current compensation package for the Mayor and Alderman for Vicksburg is in line considering their areas of responsibility.

Question 4. Vicksburg now operates as specially chartered municipal corporation with a mayor elected at large and two aldermen elected from wards as chief executive officers with specified duties including naming fire and police chiefs, among others, to four-year terms. What changes do you favor making in the form, structure or operations of Vicksburg government?

Beauman: I feel that there are not enough people in Vicksburg and Warren County to support two governmental agencies. Our government is only as good as those we elect to serve, therefore the type of government is not what causes or solves problems. With approximately 50,000 citizens in the entire county, I cannot understand why we have to pay two and three times for the same things. Not only do we need to look at consolidating city and county government, we also need to look at the school district and its budget to see what could be done to make it more efficient. We have a great city, a great county and a great school district. But all can be better.

Smith: I would like to see the Mayor and Board of Aldermen become a Mayor and City Council form of government with a city manager. The Mayor and City Council would all be part-time city officials, not dependent solely on a city salary.

Question 5. Would you favor a countywide law enforcement agency through disbanding the Vicksburg Police Department or other means?

Beauman: Yes. I think that law enforcement is an area that is of utmost importance and carries with it huge financial burdens. Our officers need and must have the best equipment to work with. They are at risk every day and must be protected. With a merger of city and county law enforcement, there would be less duplication of services and would be more feasible in spending. There would also be less confusion on whom to call or dispatch.

Smith: I think that this should be closely studied. If we can save money and provide the best law enforcement possible, what is stopping us? The only thing that would stop us is egos and power.

Question 6. Would you favor a countywide public recreation agency through combining separate operations?

Beauman: Yes, but only with the proper participation from both the city and county budgets. I also feel that the citizens of Vicksburg and Warren County would benefit if the school district’s athletic fields were included. (See 4, above.)

Smith: The same answer as to Question 5.

Question 7. Vicksburg now has no written affirmative action plan for hiring and no written plan for minority set-asides in contracts for city business. Should Vicksburg have such plans? Why or why not?

Beauman: I feel that the best (not necessarily the lowest) bid should be awarded any work done for the city. My job as an alderman would be to spend any funds in a responsible way. This can only be accomplished by proper planning beforehand and trying to remove “loopholes” that end up costing more than originally planned. There is room for minority set-asides, but there should be a percentage figure that could establish boundaries not to be exceeded just to award to minorities.

Smith: Affirmative action and minority set-asides have been a hot topic of controversy for some 20 years. Do they really work? Should we hold back government funds to meet a quota or should we give government contracts to those individuals or companies that are best qualified and at the lowest bid. Look at the $40,000 appropriation for a bass tournament. I think we have affirmative action.