Powell first candidate to qualify for mayor

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A local restaurateur and community program director has become the first candidate in the race for mayor of Brookhaven.

Rose “Polly” Powell turned in qualifying papers Monday and was cleared to run as an independent candidate.

The owner of Polly’s On Main Street praised the leadership of the past two mayors, Bob Massengill and Les Bumgarner, and said she wants to further their work.

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“The theme of my campaign is ‘Keep it moving,'” Powell said. “I feel like there is a great foundation laid, and I want to add to it.”

Powell said her vision for Brookhaven includes greater economic development and job growth.

To that end, Powell has thrown her support behind a petition that would force a vote on legalizing the sale of alcohol within the city limits and made the petition available at her restaurant.

“Brookhaven is growing whether we like it or not,” Powell said of her support for legal liquor sales.

Powell founded the “O” Foundation in 2005 in an effort to improve the community and bring residents closer together.

Most recently, Powell and the “O” Foundation have partnered with Brookhaven’s Sen. Sally Doty to address childhood obesity and nutritional issues.

That work for the community has pushed her to seek a more prominent leadership role, said Powell.

“In order for me to get some things done in my city, I need to know about the inner workings,” she said.

Incumbent Mayor Les Bumgarner is completing his first term as mayor but has said he won’t seek re-election.

So far, no other candidates have entered the race, but the qualifying deadline is not until March 8.

Powell’s been a periodic Brookhaven resident since her childhood. She was born in Wisner, La., but her family moved to the Homeseekers Paradise when she was 6 months old.

Later, after a short stint at St. Dominic/Jackson Memorial Hospital, she moved to Hollywood in 1984 to purse an acting career.

Instead, she wound up the manager of a hotel.

She returned in 1990 to Jackson as a nurse at the University Children’s Hospital. California lured her back in 1998, though, and Powell became involved with the redevelopment board of the Watts community in Los Angeles.

She underscored that experience in discussing her qualifications to be mayor of Brookhaven, discussing her work to secure a grant to construct a new daycare center in the Watts community.

She also ran a pager and cell phone business in Watts.

“I have a history of being in charge,” Powell said of her entrepreneurial background.

In 2010, the Internal Revenue Service pulled the tax-exempt status of the “O” Foundation because Powell had failed for several consecutive years to file a mandated report.

At the time, Powell said she didn’t know the report was required and indicated the she might simply shutter the organization.

Now, Powell says she has reapplied for tax-exempt status.

As an independent candidate, Powell won’t compete in part primaries held in May. Instead, she’ll appear on the general election ballot on June 4.