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Election Q&A: Mayor candidates answer questionnaires

Editor’s Note: Today, The Daily Leader completes its question-and-answer series highlighting candidates participating in Brookhaven’s upcoming municipal elections. Today’s responses are from mayoral candidates. Joe Cox is a Republican candidate, David Douglas Smith III a Democrat, and D.W. Maxwell and Rose “Polly” Powell are independents. Four of the five candidates participated in the questionnaire. Democratic candidate Joe Poole did not submit responses. Responses appear as submitted by the candidates. Rose “Polly” Powell did not respond to all questions.

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, aldermen must make a choice: they can either restrict alcohol to by-the-glass sales in restaurants or allow package stores. If elected to the mayor’s office, which option would you encourage aldermen to support? What are the benefits of the option you favor?

Joe Cox: If the sale of alcoholic liquors is legalized, I would encourage our Board of Aldermen to restrict the sale of alcohol to by-the-glass sales in restaurants and that it be served on-premises only in restaurants which have the necessary permits from the Mississippi Department of Alcohol Beverage Control. One benefit would be an increase in sales tax for the city of Brookhaven. Ultimately it is up to the majority vote of those serving on the Board of Aldermen as to how restrictive or lenient the sale of alcohol liquors will be in the future.

D.W. Maxwell: First, I Believe in Giving the People a Voice Over This Issue. If Necessary, I Will Recommend to the Alderman that a Public Hearing be Established for this Purpose. The Citizens Can Voice Their Desires to the Mayor and Board directly. Upon Citizens Having Voiced their Opinions, Then the Mayor and Board Should Prepare the Contents of a New Ordinance in Accordance with Testimony from the Citizens, which Complies with the Law and Meets the Regulations of the ABC. This Procedure Allows All Citizens the Opportunity to Voice Their Concern about this Deep Personal Issue.

Rose “Polly” Powell: If elected, I do have the experience in the laws of liquor sales to advise the board if passed. I owned a liquor license in the 90s under the Mississippi Alcohol Beverage Control Division. I would recommend Restaurants by the glass. We will have the opportunity to court major food chains that would provide over 100 jobs. The Revenue and job opportunities would be much greater than a few liquor stores. We are providing Revenue to our neighbors while our own city loses. We have the best police departments in the Southwest and I feel confident they can monitor our city.

David Douglas Smith: There would be no need to continue in the antiquated mode of operation. If alcohol is legalized – then legalize it. Why limit the sale of alcohol to glass sales in restaurants? Alcohol is alcohol. Create another source of revenue in the form of liquor stores. Stop sending taxes to neighboring counties.

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?

Joe Cox: As in all cities there are basic infrastructure needs, which without them a city could not function. These needs include the upkeep of streets, water and sewer systems. The most significant infrastructure issue facing our city is upgrading our water and sewer systems so that we may provide services to the recently annexed areas. I plan to work in conjunction with our Board of Aldermen to vigorously secure various grants, funds, revenue bonds, etc., which will help meet the needs of the City. Combined with prudent budgeting in other areas, this will allow for a well-maintained, efficient and reliable infrastructure for Brookhaven.

D.W. Maxwell: First Infrastructure Need, Continued Current Repair/Upgrading City’s Waste Water Treatment Plant Meet DEQ Requirements. City Required Keep Existing Water/Sewer Lines Repaired and Improved Daily. Annexation Requirements – You Deserve the Truth and I will Tell You the Truth – The City Must Consider CDBG Grants Where Applicable – SRF Water Loan – SRF Sewer Loan – Other Grants – Present Loan Debt Service Ever $1M Spent Cost $5,000 Month 20 Years – This Equates About $1.22 Customer/Month – First, How Much Debt Do the Citizens of Brookhaven Want to Incur? Next, Mail Surveys, Re-determine Prioritized Areas, Estimated Cost Each Area, Determine/Secure Loan, Start Work

Rose “Polly” Powell: The city has taken on more than 50% of its original size. We own the elephant in the room, now we must take care of it. Example, other than the promised utilities upgrades, I want to provide an additional police precinct in the Brignald area, refurbish the overhead bridge downtown for city official use only. My first agenda is to sit down with the City Clerk and go over the budget. Next meet with all department heads to prioritize taking care of needs. I will then call a special meeting with our newly elected board to discuss our priortories.

David Douglas Smith: Modernizing and stabilizing the sewage and drainage system of the city. Properly repair or upgrade the system as needed rather than continually patching the problems.

The police department needs to become a more interactive part of the community. Police need to be part of programs that work to discourage drug use and drug sales. They need to be viewed as a much needed part of city government rather than “the enemy.”

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

Joe Cox: Everyone is being affected by today’s economy. As mayor I would not be in favor of any type of tax or fee increases, but instead will call for accountability, transparency, efficiency, and common sense when reviewing the city budget. Tax revenue brought in to our community through new industry will also help ensure no tax or fee increases for our residents, while allowing for needed funding for a thriving infrastructure. It will take prioritization and the ability to just say no sometimes, in order to have adequate budgeted funding for the necessities and expenses the City incurs.

D.W. Maxwell: There Have Not Been Any Real Property Tax Increases the Last 8 Years, Other Than State Reappraisal. The City Budget Has Been Watch Closely and Kept Lean. The City has Two Major Sources of Income: Real Property and Inventory Taxes, and Sales Tax. We Certainly Don’t Want Property and Inventory Tax Rates Increasing. Economic Development, Adding New Retail, New Service Businesses and New Housing are the Answer to Easing Taxpayers’ Burdens. This Means – More Jobs, More Sales Tax, and Expansion of Property and Inventory Taxes Without Raising Any Tax Rates.

Rose “Polly” Powell: First I will Go over the budget with the city clerk to find where cuts can be made. Work closely with the chamber to inhance recreational actitivies. A new 800 occupancy building is being built for storm victims and it can also be used for large events. I will ask city governing officials to agree to a paycut percentage. Work with private investors, and chamber to build a large water park to bring revenue from surrounding areas along with a Race Trac and outdoor arena. A private group recently built a hotel downtown and I would like to see more of this.

David Douglas Smith: Maximize the efficient use of services currently in place and look at ways to improve services. Bring in new businesses to add to the tax base and reduce unemployment.

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

Joe Cox: Two things that will help improve Brookhaven are economic development and a safe environment. An important role of the mayor is to represent Brookhaven in every facet and at every level. It means networking with local, state and federal officials in order to keep Brookhaven at the forefront of their minds, especially with the possibility of new industry, as well as increasing grant eligibility. Economic development has been described as a “team sport”. The increase of this type of long lasting economic development will help generate funds necessary to adequately fund our community needs.

D.W. Maxwell: New City Projects are Impossible Without Revenue Growth. Increasing City’s Revenue without Increasing Tax Rates would Improve Quality of Life Most. New Revenue would Enable the City to Improve Infrastructure Needs, Paving, Other Services and New Programs. Accomplish This by: (1.) Economic Development Through Industry Expansion, New Jobs, and Commercial Businesses. Promote New Businesses/Retail Outlets, Local Variety Shopping, and New Restaurants By Utilizing Business Development Incentives such as TIF Grants and By Creating Free Downtown WIFI. (2.) Also, Encouraging Building Contractors and Amending Ordinances to Benefit More Housing Development for New Growth.

David Douglas Smith: The recruitment of businesses that would pay higher salaries. Better paying jobs would encourage the young people to stay in Brookhaven. The Mayor would need to help develop a strategy to market and sell this city as the true Home Seekers Paradise that it can and will become.

5. What qualifies you to seek this office and how will those qualifications make you the best candidate for this position?

Joe Cox: As a local business owner I know how to successfully grow and run a business, the importance of community involvement, civic responsibility, being fair and having a solid work ethic. I have the necessary experience, commitment to serve, ability to bridge parties and offer common sense and workable solutions while addressing the concerns of our residents. I will be proactive and seize opportunities to address challenges that arise. I promise to exhibit leadership and fortitude as a negotiator with our elected officials, and invite you to join me on the journey. One city, with common goals sharing a vision for the future.

D.W. Maxwell: EXPERIENCED in City Government, 8 Years – Your City Alderman – EDUCATED in City Government, Over 220 Hours Formal City Government Education – Mississippi Municipal League – KNOWLEDGE of City Government, Many Years Working with City Department Heads – All Areas of Brookhaven – STRONG LEADERSHIP ABILITY, Proven by Bringing All People Together – Most Recently with Our New Waste Disposal and City Redistricting – BUSINESS EXPERIENCE, 47 Years in Business – Real Estate – Oil/Gas Exploration – Financial Markets – VISIONS FOR A PROGRESSIVE CITY, Major Focus – Economic Development, Retail and More – Only Candidate With These Particular Qualifications. They Will Count as Your Next Mayor.

Rose “Polly” Powell: The job of mayor is to take care of the needs of the city and it’s citizens. My management skills as Food and beverage manager of a major hotel chain. 25 years working as a nurse in major hospitals. Media experience working with television production. 7 years sharpening my writing skills as community columnist for the daily leader. Owning and operating a successful cellular company. Volunteering in my community has given me a large network of citizens. I suggested we Add a covered walkway to the Multipurpse Building and it has become a showplace for our county under the direction of Quinn Jordan.

David Douglas Smith: I was born, raised and educated in Brookhaven, Ms. I have lived here during good times and during hard times and struggles. I have watched and observed the system evolve. My education and work ethic lends itself to the ability to perform the requirements of the office of mayor.

6. What are your reasons for seeking this office and why should voters elect you as mayor?

Joe Cox: The decision to run for mayor was not taken lightly. After prayerful consideration I decided to accept the challenge. I have a deep-seated love for my hometown. This is where Angie and I grew up, reared our family, and established my business. I am committed to the concerns of our residents and businesses. I plan to offer practical and productive solutions while working with ALL residents, officials, community leaders, and business owners. I promise to work hard to make a positive difference for our City, while keeping the traditional family values of Brookhaven. I am asking for your vote June 4th.

D.W. Maxwell: Maxwell Roots Go Back to the Very First Homes Built in Brookhaven. I’m the Only Direct Descendant of My Great Grandfather, Augustus Maxwell Who Lives in Brookhaven. I Decided Early in Life, Brookhaven would be my Home. I love Brookhaven. I’ve Spent Many Hours Beyond Duty as Alderman, Serving Brookhaven because I Only Want the Very Best for You and Brookhaven. Brookhaven Has Been Great to Me. You Have Blessed Me. I Would Be Very Grateful and Honored to Serve as Your Next Mayor. Remember, I’m Only Mayoral Candidate with City Experience – City Education – City Knowledge – City Leadership.

Rose “Polly” Powell: Voters should elect Rose “Polly Powell Mayor because I have vision and a plan to keep our city moving forward. I have a tract record for getting things done. People are often referred to me when they need help networking with someone for some reason in our city. I have great leadership skills. I have crossed racial and political lines in hopes of brining this city together so that we can be a beacon on the hill for Southwest Mississippi.

David Douglas Smith: Upon observing and taking note of the candidates running for the office of mayor, none of them impressed me. After giving much thought to the matter, I realized that I was a better choice for the office of mayor. I would better serve all the people of Brookhaven as their mayor.