MEET THE CANDIDATES: District 3 Warren County Supervisor

Published 4:00 am Monday, May 1, 2023

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of stories in which candidates for local offices will answer questions about a variety of issues. The Vicksburg Post sent each candidate a questionnaire with 10 topics, and they were asked to provide their responses. Today, the candidates for Warren County Supervisor for District 3 — Shawn Jackson (incumbent) and Eros J. Smith  — give their answers to the following questions:
  1. What office are you seeking?
    • SHAWN JACKSON: Re-Election County Supervisor, D3
    • EROS J. SMITH: Warren County District 3 Supervisor

      Shawn Jackson

      Eros J. Smith

  2. What is your assessment of the previous or current occupant of this office, and, if elected, would you keep it in the same direction or change course? — OR — How would you grade your success to this point in this office? Do you plan to keep things going in the same direction, or change course?
    • JACKSON: I would definitely keep going in the same direction. Over my first term, I’ve supported my board members in what they deem as effective projects for their districts, and have asked and expected that they support me in making positive changes to my district, ensuring that all of Warren County moves forward and grows. I’ve contributed to tax reform, advocated for a comprehensive housing plan to build better and safer homes for all of us, brought in investment banks for bond offerings, served as VP of the Board and co-lead on our jail build, brought in over 20,000 boxes of food and made sure we had drive-in vaccination sites, worked to raise pay for our county workers, and worked to keep polling places from being closed down that would disrupt the vote of many elderly in our community as well as finally fixed the extreme gerrymandering that had persisted in Warren County since blacks gained the right to vote. This was particularly important to ensure Warren County is compliant with the federal voter’s rights act and no longer denies a large portion of our population from ever being elected and serving in certain offices.
    • SMITH: First and foremost, for District 3 Supervisor Shawn Jackson to be elected as the first AfricanAmerican woman of our county was an astonishing feat in itself. She has given our future leaders of tomorrow who are women (of color) hope and inspiration. Predecessors such as former Alderwoman Gertrude Young and Supervisor Jackson have given all women of different ethnicities the audacity of hope, to run for public office. I also feel the Board of Supervisors has done a great job thus far, but there is always room for improvement. Nothing is ever perfect, but we will most definitely work towards it.
  3. How would you address transparency and accountability in this office?
    • JACKSON: Being transparent and leading in an accountable way is how it’s addressed. For the first time in Warren County’s governance history, I’ve made sure the office of the County Supervisor is no longer hidden behind the doors on Jackson Street. Even when time is short, I’ve tried to inform the public of what we’re doing and that their voice matters. My goal has been to include and inform as many facets and groups in the community as possible. I encouraged our Board to have public meetings on how the county would use its $8.8 million in ARPA funding. A lot of information comes across our desks. I don’t believe in keeping it for a few. For example, the Section 8 housing wait list opened up for a few short days.  There are so many families and single mothers in need, I not only informed the public, but I helped some complete their applications.
    • SMITH: I am an advocate of being very transparent and assessable to the residents and community. All city and county meetings and business are on the local TV/cable channel and/or streaming live via the internet. The Vicksburg Post always keeps content posted for our readers. When elected, I will also post content on my Eros 4 District 3 Supervisor page via Facebook.
  4.  What are the most pressing issues in this office and how would you address them?
    1. JACKSON: I think youth development, economic development and housing are the most pressing in my opinion now. I’ve advocated for monies to be attributed and given to youth organizations, and youth mental health. For economic development, I have worked for and advocated for incentives to be city-wide, and not just downtown. I think we can also speed up economic development; it’s taken us over 10 years to get two blocks looking good downtown. At that clip, it’ll be forever before your neighborhood sees change. For housing, I’ve pulled together a comprehensive housing accelerator plan, based on past work I’ve done and have circulated it for several years now. In my district, homes have literally fallen off hills while residents were asleep inside and Jim Stirgus Street continues to erode. Many of our most vulnerable don’t have housing, much less our upwardly mobile young families. I will continue to advocate for investment in housing in Warren County.
    2. SMITH: Because District 3 is one of the largest districts within Warren County, and it also runs right in the heart of the city; my concerns run far beyond just the roads and bridges. My first focus will be on public safety, crime prevention and youth crime violence which are great concerns to me. As Supervisor, I would work closely with the Vicksburg Police Department and the Warren County Sherriff’s Department to enhance the community’s trust and law enforcement relations. Second, I would reach out to the guys I looked up to within my neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods to reach out to our youth. People who have taken paths less traveled and show them there’s a better way of life and a better outlook on life rather than being on the streets and possibly resulting in violence. I would like to see our youth becoming more involved in recreational sports and let them know that their education is vital. I would also try to steer those young adolescents who may want to pursue such trades, for example, barbering, cosmetology, plumbing, auto mechanic, and nursing who may not have a desire for college after graduation but want to develop a trade skill in life and as a liaison; I will help them reach and fulfill their individual goals. Third, I most certainly want to make sure our elders feel safe within their own domain and neighborhood. Our elders are not only pillars of our community, but they also shouldn’t have to fear sitting on their front porch in hopes of not being shot by a random bullet to senseless violence that may be happening elsewhere. Fourth, I want to help be a part of revitalizing buildings like Carr Central and work together to revitalize such properties as the old YMCA building downtown to make it a housing unit for anyone who qualifies for low to moderate-income families. Finally, I want to establish partnerships with private entities to bring internet infrastructure to our government-assisted areas and apply for grants to those individuals to become homeowners in affordable housing such as energy-efficient cottage houses in select neighborhoods.
  5.  How would your role in this office improve Vicksburg and Warren County?
    • JACKSON: By bringing additional skills, relationships and passions, we ensure we don’t have group think which can be dangerous. When everyone thinks the same way and suffocates individual thought, you can easily have a group of leaders who are tone-deaf to what the community needs. Warren County comes from excellence. Warren County fueled not just the development of Mississippi, but the world in some regards. And it was through a diverse workforce and ingenuity that that happened.  My role and presence show that a daughter of Warren County can help make a difference in her unique way.
    • SMITH: I have been a public servant for most of my life and in my professional career. I have taken the solemn pledge to take on all enemies both foreign and domestic, to preserve and safeguard life and property. When elected as your next District Supervisor, I will be bringing 19 years of law enforcement experience with city/state as a police officer, 10 years as a veteran of the Mississippi Air National Guard/U.S. Air Force and two years currently as a guidance counselor, instructor and head coach. I listen, study and make logistical plans to carry out every endeavor, assignment and task set before me and effectively. I have always been a hands-on person, so I want to make regular visits to our public schools and make routine visits and checks and take even more focus on our “At-risk youths” and work even harder with them. I am a firm believer in communication. Having an open line/hands-on approach with not only the residents of District 3 but all of the residents in the other four districts as well and most importantly; working together with the other four District Supervisors in unison, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of our beloved city. Together, we are all collectively working for the greater good.
  6. What are your reasons for seeking this office and why should voters elect you?
    • JACKSON: When I came back home 13 years ago, I moved back to the neighborhood I was born and raised in. I didn’t head for the hills. When I bought my first investment property, it was in this same neighborhood, not in Madison. I promised effectiveness and results, and I’ve delivered. Voting for me is a vote for experience and effectiveness as well as collaboration for the best of all residents of Warren County.
    • SMITH: I was born and raised in Marcus Bottom/Douglas Park for my entire life. I am proud of being a product of Ken Karyl Avenue by way of Letitia Street when I came home from Mercy Hospital. I have seen and witnessed first-hand the good, bad, and ugly of District 3. I came from a generation in which, “The village raises the children,” and I firmly believe it can still happen even today. I also realize that we have come a long way, but I also feel deeply within my heart and core; so much more can be done and that is why I feel the voters should elect me as their next District 3 Supervisor.
  7. Please share any family/personal information you’d like to include.
    • JACKSON: I’m a proud mother of 3 sons shared with my ex-husband. I’m a former investment manager who was directly responsible for investing tens of millions of dollars in community development. I am an entrepreneur who has owned restaurants and met many of you through the Breakfast Club of Vicksburg. I am currently a realtor and workforce development trainer. I was born and raised in District 3 on Valley Street, and my family has been in District 3 and property and business owners in District 3 and Marcus Bottom for over 100 years.
    • SMITH: I have two amazing daughters, one of which one is working on her graduate studies at the University of Oklahoma, and I have a freshman in high school at Vicksburg High School. I am a lifelong member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, a Masonic member of Stringer Lodge #1, and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Vicksburg Alumni Chapter.

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