Supervisor candidates strive for better county

Published 9:11 pm Saturday, May 16, 2015

This election year, there are five candidates vying for the District 2 seat at the table of the one body that supervises almost everything that goes on in Lincoln County government. 

Of the five candidates for District 2, the two Democrats contending for the primary spot are Samuel Keys and Jerry McGehee.

Keys is a lifelong Lincoln County resident and full-time honors college student studying political science at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is involved in the College Democrats of America, Mississippi College Democrats and Young Democrats of America Southeast Region groups.

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Keys said he is running for office because he is focused on the future of Lincoln County.

“I see so many positive things within our county that we are doing, but we can do so much better when it comes to jobs, our economy, taking care of our veterans and senior citizens, having better youth involvement opportunities, fixing our roads and bridges and so much more,” Keys said. “If we really want to do something about it, we must come together as one and really think and plan out what we can do, and how we can do it.”

Keys said if elected, his biggest priorities will be fighting for jobs, fighting for youth and taking the condition of roads and bridges seriously.

“Within households in our county, there are families who are struggling to provide for their family and seeing that hurts,” he said. “If we had more businesses in our area, we can solve these problems.”

Keys said when it comes to the youth in the community, we must have honest conversations and talk with them, rather than at them, and listening to their concerns is vital.

“We must hear from them to get a better sense of what we can do to make sure that they are headed on the right path,” Keys said. “I see so many young people getting caught up in the wrong things and the hurt it brings to families. Our youth need to know that we are there for them, and we care about their future. I want to give our youth a fighting chance to compete with others and to showcase their talent and skills.”

Crumbling roads and bridges and the safety of people driving on them are a concern that needs attention, Keys said.

“A way to fix this problem is to do a road assessment. Let’s work on the roads that need serious fixing, and then work our way down,” Keys said. “We need to get away from this notion that if we just patch the roads up, then the problem is solve. When we have better roads, we have happy citizens.”

Keys said Lincoln County is the best place to raise a family, and, if elected, he would work day and night to make sure that Lincoln County is stronger, safer and better.

Keys attends Emmanuel Temple Church in Lincoln County.

McGehee is a lifelong Lincoln County resident who has operated his own logging company for more than 30 years. McGehee said earning the respect of the people he worked with inside and outside of the company would be similar to earning the respect of the residents he would serve as supervisor.

McGehee said if elected, he would work hard for the people of District 2 and the county as a whole.

“Decisions made in meetings I will make to the best of my ability and for Lincoln County as a whole,” he said. “And if there’s an opportunity for new businesses to come to Brookhaven and bring industry to Lincoln County that would help people gain jobs, we must do what we can to make that happen.”

McGehee said one of his biggest concerns is working to make roads and bridges as safe as possible for everyone, not on one side of a district and not the other, but the entire district.

“Our roads are important, we have got to maintain them as best we can,” McGehee said. “If we can’t maintain them, we run them down to a certain point that we can’t get them back.”

“Having enough money to keep roads in good shape will always be an issue. You just try to redo as many roads as money allows,” he said. “If the money is not there to completely redo, I have to fix it as best I can with the money I have to work with.”

Lobbying for state and federal funds to support infrastructure is an integral part of a proactive approach to the problem, McGehee said.

“We may not be able to get all we want but maybe we could get enough to maintain the roads and bridges, either way, [actively lobbying has to be a priority,]” he said.

McGehee said he has worked with current District 2 Supervisor Jimmy Diamond, so he is familiar with the daily duties of a supervisor.

“Because I worked with Jimmy Diamond, I know the people, the equipment, the roads – I know the whole operation, and I feel like that gets me ahead of the game,” McGehee said. “So if elected, I don’t have to walk into a job and figure out what needs to be done.”

McGehee said he loves talking with and meeting people, and this would play an active role in his approach to being a supervisor.

“If elected, people should know that if they have a problem they can call me or come see me, and I’ll sit down with them, and we’ll work it out as best we can for both sides,” he said.

McGehee is a lifelong member of Clear Branch Baptist Church, and he and his wife, Cindy, have two sons, two daughters and eight grandchildren.