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Vicksburg needs George Flaggs as its mayor

When George Flaggs Jr. ran for mayor four years ago, he touted his legislative experience, his contacts at the state and federal level, and more importantly, his love for Vicksburg and his desire to see it get better.

He made one statement that summed up his desire to serve the city, “I want to leave Vicksburg better than I found it.” He is making the city better, and doing it with strong leadership.

When Flaggs came into office, Vicksburg had a $400,000 deficit. It had lost its bond rating — a situation that would have made it extremely difficult to float a major bond issue for capital improvement projects or to handle a severe emergency. The city had no reserve fund, and was operating on a policy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” when it came to Vicksburg’s aging infrastructure.

Since taking office, Flaggs has managed to get the city’s bond rating back, float an $18 million bond issue for capital improvements, with the first $9.2 million of those bonds going to pave streets, improve recreation at Halls Ferry Park, remodel the City Park pavilion and handle other capital projects that were sorely needed to City Hall and other city buildings.

The city erased its deficit and built up a $3 million reserve fund, and was able to get $500,000 in state funds to help tourism in the city.

And while other members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen like to take some credit for the city’s improvements, none of it could have been done without Flaggs’ knowledge of finance and leadership in moving aggressively toward finding the solutions to improve the city’s financial condition and get the bond rating restored, or work to develop a capital improvements plan to meet the city’s needs. His leadership was further demonstrated by his response to the city’s water crisis, where he took the steps to get the line fixed and served as the face of the city’s response to the crisis.

Tuesday, Flaggs faces two worthy opponents who have their own ideas about what the city needs and how to get there. But they don’t have the experience or demonstrated the leadership Flaggs has shown.

Over the past four years, George Flaggs has been a progressive leader and demonstrated a unique ability to work with local, state and federal officials. He has earned the right to another term.