• 70°

Candidate survey: Primary candidates address economic development issues

Editor’s note: Neither mayoral candidates Daryl Hollingsworth and incumbent Mayor George Flaggs Jr., nor incumbent South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour, were included in this survey as they are not competing, or do not have any challengers in the April 6 primary. The Post will have another round of questions for those taking part in the June 8 general election.

 

In a time of shrinking revenue and increasing costs to provide services to taxpayers, government officials are now more than ever discussing economic development strategies to attract business and industry to increase revenue without increasing the tax burden on residents.

With the city of Vicksburg being Warren County’s lone municipality — and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen playing a key role in economic development — the candidates in Vicksburg’s municipal elections have their own thoughts on how to best improve Vicksburg’s bottom line and handle other issues affecting the city.

The Vicksburg Post recently invited responses to four questions — one of which focused on economic development — to the candidates competing in the April 6 party primaries. There are three candidates for mayor, two in the North Ward and two in the South Ward. Their unedited responses will be featured in a series of articles, beginning today, addressing one of the four topics. 

 

Question: As (mayor/alderman), you would be a key player in continued economic development within not only Vicksburg but Warren County as a whole. Be specific with any plans or programs you believe are needed to continue and/or strengthen economic development within Vicksburg and Warren County.

 

Candidates for the Democratic nomination for mayor:

Shawn Jackson: As a Warren County Supervisor, I’ve supported nearly all economic development projects in addition to pushing my own development priorities.  As Mayor, I want to bring the same energy to City Hall.  We can (1) Hold businesses accountable to promises made on job creation (2) Implement a citywide housing plan for more and updated housing to attract business and grow revenue (3) Promote local hiring and contracting (4) Invest in small businesses (5) Get prepared to let tourists around the world know that as they start moving again, we want Vicksburg to be their first choice.

 

Troy Kimble: My initial focus would improve and solidify any previous projects with a rider to benefit the entire community. I would work closer with Warren County Supervisors to offer benefits to city and county businesses and homeowners for a positive bottom-line. Specifically, projects that rely on shared bonds, taxes, or other means to support investments for urban development.  For future projects, our educational system, local companies, and contractors would be asked to participate. These entities would create programs, train, and prepare skilled working-aged youth for urban development projects. Such programs would allow for technological and industrial opportunities for future growth. 

 

Willis Thompson: The best way to grow a city is by effective planning. City planning involves creating policies and programs that stimulate economic growth. This normally involves a focused effort on designated areas that encourage collaboration between local government, private sector, and the public. Planning helps a city establish a vision for the future. There needs to be a continued focus on infrastructure, reducing crime, and keeping Vicksburg beautiful. A tourist city, such as Vicksburg, should be more aesthetically pleasing. As a mayor, I would also work to form a partnership with our school district. The lack of a skilled workforce is a challenge when trying to recruit industry. There is little economic development without a thriving education system. Despite the ”D” district rating, there are great things happening in our school district such as River City Early College, the CTE program, and the career academies at both high schools. These programs are making our students more college and career-ready, and I am excited about that!

 

Candidates competing for North Ward alderman:

Michael Mayfield (incumbent): Job creation or retention in a community has a profound impact on every aspect of community life. For any community to survive, its citizens must have employment opportunities. With regards to business development, our Chamber of Commerce does a great job of providing guidance and resources to assist in business expansion, attraction, and entrepreneurial development. I plan to continue building rapport with our Chamber of Commerce to stimulate and nurture sustainable economic growth.

 

Alfred Lee Webb: Mr. Webb did not respond to The Vicksburg Post questionnaire.

 

Candidates competing for Democratic nomination for South Ward alderman:

Vickie Bailey: Place and Space is key to Vicksburg’s economic stability and growth. It is imperative that we capitalize and maintain the rich assets that we have at our disposal, which are Roads, Rails, Port, Air, Tourism, and Recreation. Secondly, engage the community and be transparent with the approved plan of actions, by also publicizing the implementation schedule of the proposed plans to the general public. Organize an Innovative Entrepreneurial Growth Program to leverage local talent. Finally, human capital has a major impact on economic development, therefore we must devise a plan of action to continuously train and retrain workers, especially in distressed communities.

 

Thomas “TJ” Mayfield: It is important to shop local, therefore we must provide more opportunities for our homegrown businesses to flourish. I am a supporter of food trucks and the culture they could bring to the city, especially for our larger events such as Juneteenth and our 4th of July Firework celebration. I also think we must do a better job at communication between our citizens and our major events such as Miss Mississippi and large Alcorn football games. Although I enjoy shopping locally, I am fully aware of how much money we lose to Jackson and Monroe due to the lack of shopping centers and chain restaurants. We must work with various businesses to restore our Mall, Outlet Mall, & other high traffic areas around this county. Competition is healthy and allows people to not have to drive 45-60 minutes for a chain restaurant.

 

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.

email author More by John