Alderman at large candidates field questions

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 14, 2001

Editor’s note: In preparation for Tuesday’s Democratic primaryfor alderman at large, the DAILY LEADER contacted candidates RonnieD. Bass and Les Bumgarner and asked them to identify the top issuesfacing the city, their positions on those issues, theirqualifications for the alderman job and their opinions on adeclining city population. Their responses follow. With noRepublican or Independent candidates, the winner of Tuesday’srunoff primary will be elected as the city’s next alderman atlarge.

1. What are the top three issues facing Brookhavenover the next four years?

BASS — A) Education, B) Economic Development, C)Recreation.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

BUMGARNER — A) Taking care of the needs of thepeople, B) Maintaining and attracting good paying jobs, C)Completing Mississippi School of the Arts and addressing theAlexander Teen Center issue.

2. What is your position on these issues and what will youdo to find a solution?

BASS — Education: At present our city is addressingsome of the issues facing us today. The School of the Arts is agreat addition that will have a huge impact on education on bothlocal and state levels. My opinion is the signing of the schoolbudget by city board members shouldn’t just be a formality, but itshould bind the city and school boards together to provide thenecessities for all students.

Education is my first priority because it has suchfar-reaching benefits. Although it cannot be expected to solve allof our social problems, education can be a catalyst to a betterlife.

Economic Development — For the past 15 yearsBrookhaven has seen substantial growth in the private sector.However, much more can be achieved with a leadership that’s poisedand positioned to accept more achievements. Should we decide toannex, Brookhaven must provide amenities to offset the pinch ofcity taxes.

Recreation — Should there be another drowningfatality before we all realize the need for a public swimming pool?Think of the benefits a centrally located Y.M.C.A. would providewith an indoor pool and track for our senior citizens and ouryouths. Our senior citizens will have a safe place to walk andgather for their public functions. The pool will provide beneficialexercises to relieve our retirees of arthritis, stress and otherillnesses. Our youths will have a safe place to swim to relievethem from the summer heat.

We should also renovate our city parks back up tostandards. These things will provide our growing city with theaccessories that encourages families to move to Brookhaven and alsoremain in Brookhaven.

BUMGARNER — A) As I campaigned all over the city, Ilearned that a lot of individual needs, wants, and requests forcity services have not been addressed or corrected in a timelymanner. A lot of people expressed a concern over escalatingproperty taxes. Your concerns will be my concerns. I want to makesure all of the city services and laws are applied equally andfairly to all the people of Brookhaven.

B) Over 3,500 manufacturing jobs have been lostalready this year across the state. We must do everything possibleto keep our good paying jobs and be competitive in the future toattract more manufacturing and industrial jobs. Good paying jobsprovide a larger tax base to take care of the financial needs ofthe city.

C) We need to continue to work with the MississippiState Legislature to bring about the completion of the MississippiSchool of the Arts. We need to seize this opportunity given to theCity of Brookhaven and work to coordinate and blend the needs anddesires of the students and faculty into our community. They willbe an asset to our town, and we should welcome them with open armsand provide whatever assistance is necessary.

As a board member of the Recreation Department wehave gone back and forth with a solution to the Alexander TeenCenter problem. Every time a solution was near, a hurdle popped up.I suggest we either remodel or reconstruct the Alexander TeenCenter at its present site or build a new one at the Dr. LottComplex.

3. What abilities do you bring to the office thatvoters should consider in making a choice between you and youropponent?

BASS — I am a 38-year-old lifelong resident ofBrookhaven and Lincoln County, that truly has a desire to see thiscity continue to move forward. Because I am a bridge builder, avisionary and a people person, this makes me the best-qualifiedcandidate to assist in leading our great city. Give me thisopportunity and no Brookhavenite will be leftbehind.

BUMGARNER — I have served in leadership positionsthroughout my life. I was a Unit Commander of the 114th MP,Vicksburg, with an Honorable Discharge with the rank of CaptainUSAR. I have served for 11 years as Head Coach or Athletic Directorin the public school systems. Having served for 16 years on theBoard of Directors of the Brookhaven Recreational Department, 10years on the Board of Trustees for the Brookhaven Public Schools,and as owner of the Locker Room Men’s Shop in downtown Brookhavenfor 21 years. I have worked with and dealt with the public in manyways since graduating from Delta State University with a Bachelorof Science in Education Degree.

I respect all people and their opinions. If youelect me I will serve each and every one of you to the best of myability.

4. Brookhaven lost population over the past tenyears as citizens moved outside the city limits, which lowered thecity’s tax base. What do you propose to do to reverse this trend,or should anything be done?

BASS — I deeply feel that it is every citizen’sprerogative to reside wherever they choose. I also believe that thecity should work together with its citizens to repair the problemsthat are causing the current trend of relocating outside its citylimits. Working on these problems should help to retain ourcitizens. It will also help them to enjoy life inBrookhaven.

BUMGARNER — I will only go along with a plan toexpand the city limits if it includes a plan to start providingcity services from day one and can be completed in a timely manner.Regardless of whether or not the city limits are expanded, new citywards will have to be drawn up. I want to make sure everyone hasthe opportunity to be represented.

One must have a vision for the future, and mine isto make “Homeseekers’ Paradise” a reality forall.