Ward Four candidates respond to questions

Published 7:00 pm Friday, April 26, 2013

Editor’s Note: Today, The Daily Leader continues a question-and-answer series highlighting candidates participating in Brookhaven’s upcoming municipal elections. Today’s responses are from Ward Four alderman candidates competing in the Republican primary. There are no Democratic or independent candidates in the race. Responses appear as submitted by the candidates.

1. When voters go to the polls on June 4 to elect municipal officials, they will also have the opportunity to legalize the sale of alcohol within the Brookhaven city limits. If voters do legalize liquor sales, the Board of Aldermen must make a choice: The board can either restrict alcohol to by-the glass sales in restaurants or allow package stores. If elected, which option will you support? What are the benefits of the option you favor?

Shirley Estes: If the voters of the city legalize the sale of alcohol and I am re-elected Alderman, Ward IV, I will listen to the voters of Ward IV and support the option that they favor. I will educate myself on the regulations of the Alcohol and Beverage Control Board, realizing that some decisions can only be made in light of those regulations.

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Liquor stores all over town would certainly not be an option that I could support.

Danny Keene: If voters legalize liquor sales I would support by-the-glass in restaurants based off feedback received from residents of Ward 4. A properly drafted ordinance allowing this while protecting other concerns would result in Brookhaven receiving a variety of restaurants that many visit while traveling north and south of Brookhaven, keeping revenues local. Neighboring county residents and those traveling along Hwy 84 or I-55 would increase traffic for Brookhaven overall, creating additional sales at other businesses in the city. It would create new construction, vacant property being leased, and create management & entry-level employment opportunities, all while increasing revenue.

2. What do you see as the most significant infrastructure needs in the city? Given the still struggling economy and tight finances the city has faced, how would you go about prioritizing these needs?

Shirley Estes: It is past time for the city to address a comprehensive plan for repair and rehabilitation of aging infrastructure. Streets, for example, are often torn up just after repaving to repair old water and sewer lines.

I would encourage the Mayor and Board to commence with a comprehensive plan that would address those problem areas, and also as part of that plan address the annexed areas with services needed there.

There are those experts available to city governments who would help us address the financing and implementation of said plan.

Danny Keene: Officials must be proactive in planning. We have area requiring renovation (existing sewage/water lines) and we must consider services not yet implemented in annexed areas. Studies performed on current services and facilities should enable priorities as those needing immediate attention or those needing attention later, to be combined with plans presented during the annexation process. Not acting and not planning ahead only worsens over time, ultimately resulting in higher taxes and/or fees. Prioritizing must be based off reviews, studies, or the legalities associated with such and not from comparisons of activity taking place in one ward over another.

3. What opportunities do you see in city government to cut costs and ease the taxpayers’ burdens?

Shirley Estes: We shall continue to budget conservatively, thereby not having to borrow to meet costs of operations and emergency needs as have some cities our size. In addition, with that goal in mind, we should, as we tell our children, be mindful of differentiating between our needs and wants by prioritizing our needs.

Danny Keene: Individual department evaluations performed within government would reveal areas where costs can be eliminated or reduced. Assessments should be made regarding all expenditures similar to those performed by individual businesses and households, eliminating waste. The assumption of expenditures being required because they have been part of the process or past budget is not justification for it remaining. Electing those that will run government like the private sector should produce taxpayer benefits, and could reduce the size of government. After all, the taxpayer remains the employer of the government.

4. In your opinion, what could improve Brookhaven the most (limit answer to two options)? How would you as an alderman make this possible?

Shirley Estes: Brookhaven, I believe, could be improved and strengthened if we were to diligently implement our strategic plan which was labored over and adopted several years ago. That plan addresses economic development, protecting neighborhoods, fire and police protection, traffic issues, smart growth, etc.

Danny Keene: 1) Renewed commitment between city and county officials. The commitment involves cooperation of all Election Officials and Department Heads insuring that every aspect of government would run as efficient as possible, reducing costs wherever possible. 2.) More conservative business approach to government. Grant may partially pay or provide initial layout for a special project, but long-term maintenance associated with these are placed upon the taxpayer and typically require reduction of freedoms or the sacrifice of individual choice by citizens.

These are possible if focus is industry and private sector jobs, while reducing or eliminating burdens on citizens through unnecessary restrictions or ordinances.

5. What are your reasons for seeking this office and why should voters elect you to the board?

Shirley Estes: I am seeking re-election as Alderman, Ward IV, because of my desire to serve, using education and experience acquired by serving since 2004. Experience as Chairman, Board of Trustees, King’s Daughters Medical Center and Foundation, my 28 years co-owner of Estes Glass, Inc. as Secretary/Treasurer have equipped me.

Additionally, I availed myself of education provided by the Mississippi Municipal League, graduating from Basic, Advanced and Professional levels by completing 160 certification hours. I am experience, qualified, committed, responsive and accessible with background in government, business, finance and community service.

I love Brookhaven and its people!

Danny Keene: Commitment to our city, our county, and our area of the state. To make a difference – here at home … We need a solid infrastructure in all areas of Brookhaven now and for future generations. We need less governmental regulations on businesses and individuals, producing opportunities for business to thrive. If you have questions, please let me know. If I don’t know the answer, I will find it for you. My goal is to serve Ward 4, as well as all of Brookhaven. I can be reached at 601-833-0945, ext. 102, or by email at dlkeene@keenefinancial.com.