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Incumbent mayor sees challenge in Wesson

In the upcoming municipal elections in Wesson, incumbent Mayor Alton Shaw is the only candidate facing any opposition, but at least one new face will be sitting around the board table next term.

Shaw is seeking his third full term as mayor of Wesson. Billy “Pete” Skinner is hoping to replace him.

Shaw was elected mayor in 2003 in a special election. In the years since, Shaw believes he has steered the town in a positive direction.

“When I first came into office, finances were almost a shambles,” he said. “Now, we’re much more stable.

The mayor said there’s also a very promising outlook for economic development and hopes to be able to soon announce additions to Wesson’s retail sector.

Grant-funded projects have also been a highlight of his tenure in office thus far, said Shaw, who also works as an emergency room nurse in Hazlehurst.

Among these projects has been restoration work to the Old Wesson School, which has been refurbished as a community center.

Those renovations are near completion, and Shaw sees new projects on the horizon, including a park in Wesson.

“We’ve gotten a grant through MDOT (Mississippi Department of Transportation) for landscaping, a walking path, a pavilion and the lighting,” he said. “We are now on our own building bathrooms.”

As he looks toward an additional term, Shaw acknowledged grant funding continues to remain tight, but he said he intends to keep taxes low within the town.

“Everyone is in a financial bind these days,” he said.

Shaw’s competition, Skinner, said his primary undertaking if elected would be to tackle infrastructure issues.

“The streets are falling apart,” Skinner said. “We need some change.”

He continued, “It’s time for new leadership; we need someone to take Wesson in a different direction.”

At the other elected offices, incumbent aldermen David “Mike” Douglas of Ward One, John Welter of Ward Two, Billy Ellison of Ward Three and Alderman at Large Van Graham will breeze into re-election.

When they take office in July, Douglas will start his second term, Welter will begin his fifth term, Ellison a second and Graham his third.

Michael King qualified with no opponents to take the Ward Four seat, replacing Bobby Britt, who chose not to seek re-election.

King, a native of Brookhaven, retired in 2003 from the United States Marine Corps and has lived in Wesson since then.

The Wesson municipal election will be held June 4.