Questionnaires give insight on local candidates

Published 5:00 am Sunday, June 22, 2003

Election day is drawing closer.

In just 46 days, voters in Lincoln County and across Mississippiwill cast ballots for candidates in local, district and stateraces.

Time is also running out for those who are eligible but have notyet registered to vote. To cast a ballot in the first partyprimaries on Aug. 5, you must be registered by July 3, according toofficials in the Lincoln County Circuit Clerk’s office. That’s lessthan two weeks away.

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The second round of voting — the runoffs, or second primary –is Aug. 26. The general election is Nov. 4.

I reported in an earlier column about some things The DAILYLEADER has planned during this election season. Here’s a recap:

On July 25, we will publish a Candidate Profile section. Everycandidate who qualified to run in a Lincoln County race wasprovided a form to fill out and return to us. We also asked forphotos to use with their biographical information. This informationis being printed at no charge to the candidates, but they shouldhave the information returned to us by July 3.

The section will be organized by the individual races, so allthe candidates running for a particular race will be groupedtogether. We think the section will be a good way for voters to getto know the candidates and their backgrounds better.

The section will also include a list of Lincoln County votingplaces, a sample ballot and a reminder of the upcoming electiondates.

Beginning the week of June 30 and continuing until the first ofAugust, we will run a question-and-answer series on a number ofLincoln County and district races. The plans are to publish thequestions-and-answers from two races a week.

Here’s the schedule:

* Week of June 30: Supervisor District One and ChanceryClerk.

* Week of July 7: Supervisor District Two and Superintendent ofEducation.

* Week of July 14: Supervisor District Three and District 53House of Representatives.

* Week of July 21: Supervisor District Four and District 92House of Representatives.

* Week of July 28: Supervisor District Five and District 39Senate.

* Friday, Aug. 1: Tax Assessor.

Here’s how it will work:

We sent — via certified mail with a return receipt — a list ofseveral questions to all the candidates in the races. We willpublish — free of charge to the candidates — their answers, ifthey choose to participate. Space and time limitations did notallow us to include every race on the ballot.

Here are the questions the candidates for supervisor were askedto answer:

1. Community officials are pursuing developmentof a new industrial park. As a supervisor, what would you do tohelp fill the new park with industries should it become areality?

2. Lincoln County has a serious problem withthe number of bridges that need to be repaired or replaced. How doyou plan to correct this problem, and how do you plan to pay for itin these tight federal, state and local budget times?

3. Do you think Lincoln County needs to upgradethe optical scanner equipment used for voting in county elections?Please explain your answer.

4. What needs does your district have that aredifferent from the other four supervisor districts? Explain how youcan make the best use of the available funds to meet the needs ofyour district.

The superintendent of education candidates were asked to answerthese questions:

1. Voters in the Lincoln County School Districtwill elect a new superintendent this year. If elected, what changes– if any — would you seek to implement in order to improvedistrict students’ tests scores and schools’ ratings?

2. During a slow economy and uncertainty aboutstate education funding levels, what would you do as superintendentto provide the most cost-effective operation for county taxpayerswhile still providing the best possible educational opportunitiesfor students?

3. How will the government pay for new federalmandates, such as the No Child Left Behind program, and what is thevalue of such programs to the school district?

Candidates in the legislative races were asked to answer twoquestions:

1. During a special legislative session in2002, lawmakers enacted tort reform measures in an effort toimprove the state’s legal climate and its reputation for “jackpotjustice.” Do you believe the measures went far enough in addressingthe situation? If not, what more needs to be done?

2. In recent years, lawmakers have used”one-time money” to patch a number of budget holes. Some politicalobservers believe a tax increase of some kind is inevitable nextyear. To avoid that unpopular possibility, what would you do tostabilize revenue streams and control state spending?

Candidates for chancery clerk and tax assessor were also giventwo questions:

1. What qualifications do you have that shouldmake voters choose you over your opponents? Incumbents, what haveyou done while in office that will convince voters you deserve toserve another four years?

2. Explain what you would do to ensure thiscounty office is operated in the most efficient and cost effectivemanner?

This is an important election for the state and Lincoln County.I want to thank the candidates for joining our efforts to helpeducate the voters.

Write to Nanette Laster at P.O. Box 551 Brookhaven, Miss.39602, or send e-mail to