Time to evaluate candidates

Published 7:15 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The results are in, the combatants named and dates set.

The next silly season has begun.

Last Friday, qualifying for county offices closed with several incumbents, including all five county supervisors, facing opponents either in the Aug. 6 primary or the general election in November.

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I’ve always had mixed emotions about election time. Obviously, the various candidate forums and debates provide plenty of copy for the paper, but five months of campaigning can also lead to the “spoiled child syndrome,” where candidates begin whining and crying because they believe their opponent is getting more coverage than they’re receiving. And sometimes things get messy.

I remember one state election when I worked in Cullman, Alabama, where the supporter of an opponent of the incumbent governor complained the governor was getting “preferred treatment” when he came to the area. I pointed out the governor got coverage because of his office (the governor going anyplace is worthy of coverage), and the governor was a Cullman County native, so a native son in high office would get coverage.

I’ve also caught flack from a Lauderdale County supervisor because I wrote a story about him driving his county car to a political rally.

But all the stories aside, voters should use these next five months very wisely. I know this comment is repeated every four years when election time rolls around, but this election is critical to the future of the county and Vicksburg.

Warren County is beginning to move toward the 21st century, so the people we put in policy-making positions will have a huge say in the direction this community goes moving forward. We need to elect people who not only have the present in mind, but also the future; people who are willing to work with other agencies and companies to bring business and industry to our community.

The days when a company went to a board of supervisors for its blessing to locate in the county are gone. In economic development, it is a “buyer’s market.” In other words, companies are not only looking for the right sites to build, they’re also looking at the communities — whether the local government entities work together, and whether they are willing to work with company officials to create an atmosphere that will allow the company to thrive.

Also, local business leaders are looking to work more with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center to help bring more high tech industries to the area, especially with the development of the Mississippi Hardware building project, and that will require our leaders to think outside the box, so to speak, to bring these companies here.

Voters, you have five months to look at the candidates, evaluate what they stand for and their vision for the county’s future. We need leaders who are willing to think beyond “this is the way we’ve always done it,” and look for innovative ways to make this county someplace where people want to live and work. Think about it.

John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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