Special vote important for city and county

Published 6:00 am Monday, March 29, 2004

The leadership landscape of Brookhaven is quickly changing, andwith these changes come new opportunities.

Within a three-day period last week, this community learned ofthe resignations of three long-time public servants – Mayor BillGodbold, City Clerk Iris Rudman Smith and Brookhaven SchoolSuperintendent Dr. Sam Bounds.

While the city school board is given the job of finding areplacement for Dr. Bounds, it will be the voters who are chargedwith the duty of selecting our next mayor and city clerk. It willbe an interesting few months, and maybe some of the most importantin the city’s and county’s history.

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Already two candidates, current Ward Four Alderman BobMassengill and former Ward Four Alderman and previous mayoralcandidate John Roberts, have publicly made known their plans to runfor mayor.

Considering a run is Ward Two Alderman and Mayor Pro-Tem TerryBates and Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner. Both individuals havebusiness concerns that might interfere with mayoral duties, andboth are in the process of making decisions.

For city clerk, long-time bookkeeper Mike Jinks has announcedhis intentions to seek the office.

All of this political posturing is a bit premature in thatneither a qualification deadline nor an election date has beenofficially set. But with the importance of this election,candidates are quickly jockeying for position.

For the record, both of these races will be non-partisan,meaning there will be no declared Democrat or Republicancandidates. There will be no primary races.

While the election will not be a winner-takes-all type race, itis possible for a candidate to win on the first ballot.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, should a singlecandidate receive 50 percent plus one vote, that candidate will bedeclared the winner. Otherwise there will be a runoff of the toptwo candidates.

It is expected the election date will be set for May 18, whichwill allow the new mayor and city clerk to begin office in earlyJune. Each will serve until next year’s regularly-scheduled cityelections.

Whoever is elected, the importance of the upcoming specialelection cannot be emphasized enough.

Facing the new mayor are ongoing issues with the solid wastedepartment, outdated and poorly maintained city equipment,personnel costs that are out of control and a controversialannexation.

Tied to all of this is an extremely tight budget with littlemonetary reserve. We are not placing blame, just pointing out thefacts.

The city clerk’s job will require an in-depth knowledge ofkeeping the city’s finances in order. While they are now in goodshape, keeping them that way takes ability and knowledge.

Both jobs will be tough, and they will be full-time.

The mayor’s job will take someone with the ability to balance abudget and provide leadership to the board and motivationalleadership to the city employees. The new mayor must have thewillingness to make tough decisions, plus the patience of Job andthe wisdom of Solomon.

This election is not only important for city residents but alsocounty residents, for the economic future of the two are directlytied together.

We will be asking questions of each candidate in the daysleading up to the election. We hope that you will also.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.39602, or send e-mail to bjacobs@dailyleader.com.