Three candidates compete for Ward 6 alderman seat
NATCHEZ, Apr 12, 2012 (The Natchez Democrat - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
One incumbent and two new challengers are facing off for the position of Ward 6 alderman in the upcoming elections.
The candidates for Ward 3 alderman are Dianne P. Brown, incumbent Dan Dillard, both Democrats, and Forrest Foster, independent.
Dianne P. Brown
Brown said she is running for a seat on the board because she believes Natchez needs new leadership.
"We all want the same things: more jobs, less crime, a balanced budget, good schools, but we're not working together. I want to be a force to pull leadership together and pull people together to get those things," Brown said.
Brown said she has a vision for a better and more united Natchez, and she said her experience in business and leadership in state and local roles has given her skills to be successful in city government.
The city needs a long-range comprehensive plan that the city can use to navigate its direction, Brown said. She said a plan outlining the city's long-term vision and objectives would allow the city to stay on path no matter who is in office.
"We all see so much dissention now, and we realize how important communication and working together is to get anything accomplished," she said.
Brown said area jobs have been created by Natchez Inc., but she said in order to keep those jobs the city must address other issues that may be keeping people from locating to Natchez, such as crime and infrastructure.
Brown said the city needs to put a police chief in place, more police officers and higher salaries for the officers. She also said the city needs to better maintain city property and streets.
In order to move Natchez forward, Brown said the aldermen across all the wards will have to unite. She said, if elected, she plans to fully represent Ward 6 but not confine herself to just the needs of Ward 6.
Brown said she has seen other cities' success working together, and in her time living in Ridgeland, she said she gained ideas that gave her a vision for what a united Natchez can be.
"We are all part of the city," she said. "Everybody is pulling in a different direction, and we're not listening to one another, because if we did, we would all realize we're on the same page and make it happen."
Foster said Natchez has a bright future, but he said the city must set long-range goals in order to attract people to Natchez, especially young people.
Foster said, if elected, he will take the business-minded approach to city government he has learned while being a business owner.
"The city is a business any way you look at it," he said. "You have to know when to spend money and not to spend money."
Foster said in his 36 years as a car salesman, he has learned how to work well and communicate with people.
"It's very important to be able to meet and greet people," he said. "I think if you have to sell your city to someone, I would be a candidate."
Foster said he wants to see the city tackle crime and build its Neighborhood Watch programs. He said the city needs to clean up its streets of crime and make the city more presentable to tourists, as well as residents.
"I want everybody in Natchez to be proud of Natchez," he said.
Recreation is a top issue for Foster, he said. Foster said getting a recreation complex in place will attract the city's young people to stay in Natchez and bring new families to the city, too.
"We're so far behind on recreation, it's not even funny," he said.
Foster said he has seen the economic impact of large tournaments while he has traveled around the country, and he said the city and county need to come together immediately and find funding for the recreation complex.
"There's always room for improvement anywhere," he said. "I think if I'm elected, I can see some things through to fruition that we need to get done."
Dillard said he is running for re-election because he has seen the board of aldermen make the decisions necessary to move Natchez forward, and he said he wants to continue to be a part of that momentum.
"I've got my experience together, and I'm starting to get a feel for the position," he said. "I've learned a great deal, and I believe we're at an opportune time to move the city and community forward."
Job creation and economic development are two of the top issues in the city, Dillard said. He said Natchez Inc. has done a good job getting jobs for the area, but he said the next step for the board is to hire an economic development director, similar to the previous downtown development director position.
Dillard said he has ideas to build development in Natchez, including bringing high-speed fiber optic cables downtown to bring businesses to the empty stores. Dillard said he wants to help move recreation forward and further develop Roth Hill into an area to possibly include historically designed businesses that would bring more visitors to the city.
Dillard said he believes the current aldermen have done a good job of making budget cuts, lowering tax-anticipation loans and contracting out city services, such as grass cutting, to save money that brought the recreation department within its budget. He said contracting out the grass-cutting services also allowed Natchez Public Works to focus on dilapidated housing and overgrown lots.
Dillard said he convinced the board to purchase new accounting software two years ago, but he said he is disappointed it has taken so long for the city clerk's office to implement the software. He said once the software is fully functional, the aldermen will be able to have a full understanding and access the city's financial status throughout the year.
The aldermen have many responsibilities overseeing the different issues and departments in the city, and Dillard said his experience qualifies him to continue his service as an alderman.
"The job warrants someone who is able to understand the substantial responsibility and accountability needed to run the city," he said.
The primary election is May 1, and the general election is June 5. Foster will not be on the primary ballot.
___ (c)2012 The Natchez Democrat (Natchez, Miss.) Visit The Natchez Democrat
(Natchez, Miss.) at www.natchezdemocrat.com Distributed by MCT Information
[ Back To TMCnet.com's Homepage ]