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Candidate survey: Primary candidates speak about addressing ongoing pandemic

Editor’s note: This survey is only for those candidates taking part in the April 6 primaries. Mayoral candidates Daryl Hollingsworth and incumbent Mayor George Flaggs Jr., as well as South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour, were included in this survey as they are not participating 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.

 

At the start of 2020, Vicksburg and other cities across the country were faced with a new challenge, the COVID-19 pandemic. The serious conditions brought about by the virus forced states, counties and cities to take drastic action in an attempt to stem the spread of the disease.

In March 2020, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen began a series of emergency orders affecting businesses, managing the size of groups who gather, enacting strong social distancing measures and, later in the year, a mask mandate which remains in effect today.

As Vicksburg ends the first year of the pandemic, candidates competing in the city’s municipal elections have their own thoughts on how to move forward.

The Vicksburg Post invited responses to four questions — one of which focused on the COVID-19 pandemic — 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 are being featured in a series of articles addressing one of the four topics. COVID-19 is the second topic. The first was economic development.

 

Question: For more than a year, city leaders have not only had to deal with the spread of the COVID-19 virus but its effects on our way of life and livelihoods. As we move into year two of this pandemic what do you believe the city should do or continue to do to manage the virus’ impacts on our community? Be specific in your response.

 

Candidates for the Democratic nominee for mayor:

Shawn Jackson: My focus is on preparedness, resiliency and recovery. Toward the end of last year, as Supervisor, I was the sole champion of a free public vaccine strategy. Because even if our community did everything right, we are at a higher risk due to the amount of tourists we host. As mayor, I would continue to encourage vaccinations, and that our residents and visitors be responsible in their actions as well as develop a top-notch grants team to get every single dollar we can for Vicksburg and Warren County from the current and any future stimulus packages.

 

Troy Kimble: As a first-responder, I was exposed to COVID. I know firsthand the severity of the virus and give my condolences to families who’ve lost loved ones. As a survivor, I believe we must do just that and adhere to medical guidelines.

I also believe we cannot remain hostage to the virus and fully re-open. “Mask,” “No shirt, no shoes, no service,” “No smoking.” Enforcement is needed because everyone won’t follow the rules. My rights end where yours begin and vice-versa. In public, “Common sense,” you don’t need me to tell you to protect yourselves. Don’t expect others to do so.

 

Willis Thompson: The city should exercise every effort to keep citizens safe. I understand this virus has an effect on everyone regardless of economic status. I was struck with a severe case of COVID-19, which required a trip to the hospital. So I know first-hand that this virus is real. That is why I chose to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. At this time, I believe vaccination is the best approach to fighting the effects of this deadly illness.

The city can help by disseminating factual information on virus updates and vaccination locations via VTV, social media, direct mail, emails, text messaging system, etc.

The statewide mask mandate has been lifted. However, the city has the authority to institute its own mandates pertaining to keeping the residents safe. Until enough residents have been fully vaccinated, I feel that a mask mandate should remain in effect.

 

Candidates competing for North Ward Alderman:

Michael Mayfield: The City of Vicksburg has made every move humanly possible to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Dealing with the reality of this virus along with the normal day-to-day operations of overseeing a city, has indeed been an unexpected challenge. As an individual that personally contracted the virus, I have a clearer knowledge of the necessary steps to take. There are many things we can prepare for and then we have times when we are surprised by the events that life presents.

I feel that this is a serious matter and we should all take proper safety precautions by continuing to practice social distancing in combination with other preventive actions to reduce the spread including wearing masks and frequently washing your hands with soap and water.

 

Alfred Lee Webb: In this time, we must examine how the virus will continue to affect our daily lives and aggravate existing inequalities in society.

To battle these issues, we must push for greater sustainability and create opportunities for communities to thrive in 2021 and beyond. These outcomes can be achieved by adopting and/or continuing practices that slow the spread of COVID-19 in communities, schools, workplaces, etc., empowering businesses, schools, and other entities to implement appropriate actions, ensuring access to health care and other essential services, prioritizing settings that provide critical infrastructure services, and minimizing disruptions to daily life as much as possible.

 

Candidates for the Democratic nomination for South Ward Alderman:

Vickie Bailey: Covid-19 is different from the common cold. It is important to follow the guidelines of the CDC and the recommendations of the Mississippi State Department of Health.

I will encourage strong prevention actions and vaccination efforts. Covid-19 is a virus, which means humans can get it and it can damage your immune system. Vicksburg we can live a normal life. I will work to enhance health literacy, equitable COVID responses, for a more resilient community. Innovative child protection approaches will be implemented. To fight this virus Nutrition programs and services will be brought into Vicksburg, increasing positive health outcomes.

 

Thomas “TJ” Mayfield: We must continue to have a mask mandate in large settings and encourage people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Although I understand people’s apprehension about getting the vaccine shot for different reasons, we must understand that this pandemic will not simply go away.

We must remain vigilant and aware that this is a global pandemic and we can get through it together.