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Jackson, Selmon face off in county’s central district

[10/29/03]In advance of general election voting Nov. 4, The Vicksburg Post provided questionnaires to candidates for local offices.

Their responses, as they wrote them, are being printed in a series of articles, continuing today with those from candidates for Warren County District 3 supervisor.

Independent Betty Barnes Jackson, 61, faces incumbent Democrat Charles L. Selmon, 43, in the race.

District 3 is the county’s central district, the only one completely within the city limits of Vicksburg.

Q: How would you decide which public-works projects are most important?

Jackson: There are several criteria to be considered: improved safety for the public, the number of people affected, cost of project weighed against benefits provided by the project, improved quality of life for the public.

Selmon: All decisions are based on getting three out of five supervisors’ votes. Public opinions are always encouraged for future projects. Projects are approved based on a rating program established by the county.

Q: Development in Warren County outside Vicksburg has increased recently in areas including U.S. 61 North near River Region Medical Center. What, if any, level of land-use regulation or zoning laws would you support? Why?

Jackson: In order to have orderly growth, it is necessary to have planned growth. I feel it would be beneficial for the county to have zoning ordinances taking into account agricultural, hunting, recreational, residential, commercial, industrial and any other uses necessary. Zoning is a tool for protecting the value of one’s property.

Selmon: Vicksburg-Warren County has been blessed with so many opportunities. The City of Vicksburg has several forms of zoning; the county has no forms of zoning. I would support different levels of commercial zoning throughout the county because we need to develop zoning outside of the municipality in order for the county to continue to be prosperous.

Q: Groups such as the Community Alliance of Vicksburg Warren County have pushed for consolidation of some functions performed by both county and city governments. What, if any, opportunities do you see for gains through consolidation?

Jackson: If consolidation of a service provides better service and is economically feasible, then it should certainly be considered.

Selmon: Consolidation can be good if the people of Warren County want it to happen. However, the most important aspect of consolidation is that every citizen is able to voice their concerns and be heard by government. I believe we need to focus on unity over consolidation first. Will consolidation bring better government or more government?

Q: Four years ago, county voters said in a non-binding referendum that they wanted the old Mississippi River bridge open to light vehicular traffic. Supervisors followed with a 4-1 vote to do that. The bridge remains closed. What are your thoughts on this?

Jackson: The old Mississippi River bridge is narrow for today’s vehicles. The question in my mind is…if it were open to traffic and two vehicles met and knocked each other’s mirrors off, whose fault would it be?

Selmon: Several engineering firms have given recommendations not to open the old Mississippi River bridge to two-way traffic for vehicular traffic, because of the size of the roadway and piers shifting. Because of those issues, it is very difficult to acquire liability insurance on the Mississippi side of the bridge. The Mississippi Department of Transportation with the Louisiana Department of Transportation have recommended for the bridge to remain closed. I personally feel that the bridge should be opened for emergency traffic or one-way traffic or for a tourist attraction.

Q: What do you think is the most important aspect of a Warren County supervisor’s job?

Jackson: The most important aspect of a supervisor’s job is to spend the public’s hard-earned tax dollars as wisely as possible. A second important aspect is providing as good a service as the tax dollars taken in allow.

Selmon: I think the most important aspect of a Warren County Supervisor is being accessible, responsible and accountable to their constituents and to the residents of Warren County. A supervisor needs to be caring, committed and concerned about the problems and issues that face Warren County residents.

Q: If there are specific things you’d like to accomplish in office, please list them and explain.

Jackson: I would like to keep the public informed as accurately as possible about what county government is all about. Help them to understand the difference between city and county duties. Help them to understand the differences in funding sources of the city and county.

Selmon: (1) I would like to see financial equity of funds allocated throughout the county, including the city, which shows a form of unity and fairness; (2) I would like to see all three governments (city, county and school) working together in unity to make Vicksburg-Warren County the best place in the world to live; (3) I would like to see a zero-percent unemployment rate through economic development or bringing more jobs to the Vicksburg-Warren County area to assure an abundance of employment opportunities and prosperity for all.