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3 candidates ready for supervisor race

This Lincoln County election year, there are three candidates vying for the District 3 seat at the table of the one body that supervises almost everything that goes on in Lincoln County government. 

The five-member board of supervisors is the pacesetter for county government in Mississippi and is the chief policy-making and administrative body of the county. According to information from the Mississippi Association of Supervisors, each county is divided into five districts, and each district elects a supervisor who serves a four-year term.

While each supervisor represents his or her own district and may handle some administrative duties in that district, together the members set policy and are expected to look after the good of the county as a whole.

The board can set traffic regulations for county roads and are responsible for hundreds of miles of local highways, roads and bridges. This means transit construction and maintenance is a large part of a supervisor’s job. However, the power to tax and the power to appropriate and budget funds are the two most significant powers the board exercises, according to the MAS.

The board decides which parts of county government gets the most money, and can also borrow money for the county in compliance with various purchasing and administrative laws designed for economical and efficient government.

Lincoln County Board of Supervisors’ meetings are held twice a month on Mondays at 9 a.m. and are open to the public. The next meeting will be May 4.

Running for District 3 Supervisor are Jamie Gatlin (R), Luther Watts (R) and incumbent Nolan Williamson (D).

Jamie Gatlin (R) earned his Bachelor of Science in landscape architecture and contracting from Mississippi State University and has owned Growin’ Green Landscape Garden Center and Gift Shop in Bogue Chitto for over 20 years. Gatlin said his 23 years owning a small business has given him knowledge and experience crucial to the frugal and conservative spending of people’s tax dollars.

Gatlin said the job of supervising a county goes beyond responsibilities with roads and bridges, and board members must know how to operate like a business to provide opportunities for the county.

“I believe [the board of supervisors] can be an economic engine to bring industry,” Gatlin said. “You can use that position to help bring industry business to the community, which in turn creates tax dollars, which in turn brings infrastructure.

“There’s a lot more to the office than just building bridges and roads,” he continued. “Now building bridges and roads is extremely important, but being frugal with tax dollars is also extremely important. And I think it’s important [to that goal] to have conservative leadership.”

Conservative leadership that Gatlin said he would strive to provide if elected. Gatlin said with a dormant industrial park, negotiating contracts and lobbying for legislature to bring industry to Lincoln County are crucial functions supervisors need to be capable of.

Gatlin said if elected, another goal of his would be “to make sure that the schools are well taken care of, that they are funded adequately. And that the tax dollars that people are entrusting me with, are spent wisely and conservatively.”

Gatlin said his financing efforts would not include raising taxes, adding that supervisors can go to higher-ups who can fund the state aid project to receive more funds for roads and bridges.

Gatlin attends Pleasant Hill Baptist in Bogue Chitto along with her wife, Frances, and they have three sons, Gauge, Eli and Noah.

Luther Watts (R) studied political science and government at Southwest Mississippi Community College and then the University of Southern Mississippi. He currently is involved at Bogue Chitto High School as a substitute teacher and volunteer assistant basketball coach. Watts said he has learned a lot from a relative who has been employed at the state department level of government, and his experiences have qualified him to tackle Lincoln County’s most important issues.

Watts said getting people back and forth to their jobs and homes safely makes roads in bad condition the most important problem facing Lincoln County today. A district supervisor’s job is to make sure roads are in tip-top shape to keep the community safe, Watts said, and his younger mind can be useful in finding different ways to do that.

His young mind, leadership skills, enthusiasm for the public sector and ideas for improving the county, Watts said, are reasons for running for District 3 Supervisor – along with the position being the first step toward becoming President of the United States.

More immediate goals that Watts will focus on if elected, he said, would be to work with other supervisors to make sure Lincoln County’s roads and infrastructures are the best in Mississippi and also serve as a respectable leader in the community.

“The only way Supervisors can be a voice to the community is to be out into the community talking with people and seeing what their needs are in the matter,” Watts said.

Watts said if elected he would do his best in looking at the budget for paving roads and picking up where previous supervisors left off getting rid of wooden bridges and changing to a concrete infrastructure.

Watts is the musical director and Sunday school teacher at Johnston Baptist Church.

Nolan Williamson (D) is the incumbent currently serving in his fourth term as District 3 Supervisor after taking office in 2000. Williamson studied business at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and University of New Orleans. Williamson said his many years of experience have equipped him with the knowledge and understanding of the ins and outs of the position.

Williamson said he is focused on roads and bridges and infrastructure, as well as his main goal to bring more business and industry to Lincoln County.

“I want to finish my work making Lincoln County the best county in the state,” Williamson said. “To do that, I will focus on roads and bridges and infrastructure. I love to help people, and I have redone [a lot of roads and bridges].”

Williamson said that Brookhaven is on a main corridor and this presents opportunities for industry and business. Williamson has served on a task force committee in Mississippi made up of leaders in business, government and communities to find ways to get more money for bridges and roads in the state.

Williamson said he is actively pursuing ways to bring more money to Lincoln County and pushes for the creation of a repair program within State Aid because existing programs do not move quickly enough to keep up with the problems of some infrastructures.

“I will never give up the fight of getting a repair program from [the Office of State Aid Road Construction],” Williamson said. “I’ll never give up the fight because the most money we can get, the better off we are.”

Williamson and wife Karen are members of Pleasant Hill church in Bogue Chitto. They have two kids and grandchildren.