Meet your candidates: Lincoln County Supervisor, District 3

Published 7:33 pm Sunday, June 11, 2023

Each Lincoln County candidate who will appear on the Aug. 8 Primary Election ballot has been contacted by The Daily Leader and asked to reply to a questionnaire.

The same set of questions was sent to each candidate, even those who are running unopposed.

The responses are offered in no particular order, and no candidate had the opportunity to see any other candidate’s answers prior to submitting their own. No edits were made for content.

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Each week, we will present responses from two candidates, along with reminders of who their opponents are.

This week we begin presenting the responses from candidates for Lincoln County Supervisor.

The county is divided in five districts. In District 1, incumbent Democrat Jerry L. Wilson is running for reelection, facing Republican candidate Donnie “Speedy” Hedgepeth. Wilson did not respond to the questionnaire.

In District 2, incumbent Republican Jerry McGehee is running for reelection, and will face two Republican challengers in the Primary — Virgil E. Stewart and Keith Lewis. Stewart did not respond to the questionnaire.

In District 3, incumbent Nolan Williamson is retiring at the end of this term. Three Republican candidates will face off in the Primary — John David Hart, Ricky Wayne Nations and Brooks Warren. Jason McDonald will face the winner in the General Election as an independent.

In District 4, incumbent Eddie Brown is retiring at the end of this term. Three Republican candidates will face one another in the Primary. They are Todd Bowlin, Eli Ferguson and Calvin Kees.

In District 5, incumbent Republican Doug Falvey is running for reelection. He faces challenger Grady Case in the Primary. Falvey did not respond to the questionnaire.


This week we present the responses from District 3 candidates Hart and McDonald.


John David Hart

Hart is a resident of Bogue Chitto, in the Hog Chain community. He is a heavy equipment operator/inspector.


What is your assessment of the previous or current occupant of this office, and, if elected, would you keep it in the same direction or change course?  

I believe that since Nolan took office several years ago there have been some improvements from where it was when he started. As far as which direction I plan to go, it is my belief that in any aspect of life you should not be content with where you presently are. There is always room for improvement and if you’re not moving forward, you are not going in the right direction. With that being said, if elected, there will be some changes made in different areas with constant evaluation to assess what is working and what adjustments need to be made for progress in economic growth and infrastructure.


How would you address transparency and accountability of this office?

Government should be transparent. I encourage concerned citizens of Lincoln County to attend board meetings to get a firsthand look at how their tax dollars are being spent and what the future plans are for our county and what progress in being made.


What are the most pressing issues in this office and how would you address them?

Economic growth and infrastructure. The key to economic growth is providing a skilled workforce. I currently serve on the Career Technical Education Advisory Committee for Lincoln County Board of Education which has been working to improve our technical training in our county high schools. If elected I would also work with our local community colleges to help promote training programs to help attract industry and businesses. As far as infrastructure, I would begin to correct the shoulders and clean out ditches to get the water off the roadways which would make our roads safer and protect the integrity of our roadways. My years of experience of dirt construction would be beneficial in repairing our roads and keeping our roads safe.


How would your role in this office improve Brookhaven and Lincoln County?

I have proven years of dedication to the citizens of Lincoln County. I have over 30 years of service through the volunteer fire department with the last 20 years serving as Chief of Hog Chain Volunteer Fire Department. During that tenure, not only have we updated equipment we have also lowered the insurance premiums for the citizens of the Hog Chain district. As mentioned in a previous answer, I currently serve as an officer on the CTE Advisory committee for the Lincoln County Board of Education, which has already opened doors for employment for some young men and women of Lincoln County. If elected, this will not be a beginning for me to start serving the citizens of Lincoln County but will be another avenue for me to help improve the quality of life for the people of Lincoln County. I believe that my experience in business management and construction, along with my dedication to the citizens, would be vital in moving Lincoln County forward.


What are your reasons for seeking this office and why should voters elect you?

I am seeking this office because I love the people of Lincoln County. I believe the voters should elect me because I have the experience and proven dedication to do the job.


Please share any family, personal information you’d like to include.

I am a Christian and believe in putting God first in every aspect of my life. I have been married 24 years to Larissa Hart and we have two wonderful sons, Davis and Marshall Hart. We have all lived in District 3 our entire lives. I am well involved in our community and school. I serve as president of our high school football Booster Club and president of the Bogue Chitto FFA Alumni.   I have a passion for serving others and humbly ask for the opportunity to serve my fellow citizens of Lincoln County as your Supervisor for District 3. Thank you all for your support and prayers.


Jason McDonald

McDonald is a resident of Enterprise, in the East Lincoln community. He is CEO and founder of The Great Mississippi Tea Company, and co-author of the award-winning Great Mississippi Tea Company cookbook.


What is your assessment of the previous or current occupant of this office, and, if elected, would you keep it in the same direction or change course?  

I think we owe a debt of gratitude to those who are willing to serve in public office. Good or bad, they did a job that very few want to take on for one reason or another. With that being said, it is time for change.

For far too long, we have let our basic infrastructure crumble. With train derailments with toxic chemicals making headlines, we should wonder if crumbling roads could lead to semi-trucks overturning in our own communities or if log trucks could be shifted off course from a pothole and end up in our living rooms.

We have let communities fend for themselves when it comes to roads or ditches. Residents in Norfield complain that their roads to their churches are in shambles. Meanwhile, you look at the current officeholder’s church road and bridge and that isn’t the case for him. We see ditches on Hog Chain overflowing into tax payers’ yards because the county “fixed them.” On East Lincoln, my property tax bill went up 10 fold and my ditches barely get cut anymore and they surely don’t drain. Enterprise and Bogue Chitto are being ignored.

We have been told far too long that there is no money for things when it is not merely a matter of money, but a simple matter of priorities. Not spending your allotted budget is commendable for any public office holder but ONLY when all necessary jobs have been attended to. At a recent county supervisor meeting, a woman had filed claims against the county for destroying her car from a pothole. She had hired a private company to give an estimate to fix the road after the county denied her claim for damage to her car by the county insurance company. The cost to remedy the road issue was a few thousand dollars. The Board’s response was, “If 3 roads need to be fixed and you can only fix 1, which do you fix?” This seems like a valid argument until you consider that the Board had just spent $30,000 or more waging an election against their voter’s will in regard to Medical Cannabis and never once considered cost. They have money when they want to have money and they leave their constituency to fend for themselves for basic needs when they so desire. Instead of fixing her road (and your road), they would rather spend YOUR money fighting an election result that had already been decided by a majority of Lincoln County voters and then was reaffirmed with victory in the special election.

At another meeting, the Sheriff asked the Board of Supervisors to reconsider a cut in insurance for county workers and their families because the major reason some are working for the Sheriff’s Department is the insurance benefit package. Again, the Board was eyeing cuts to worker benefits while squandering tax dollars on elections that had already been decided.

They prove time and again that it is not about having the money or not, but where they choose to spend it. Choosing to improperly allocate money would leave Lincoln County less safe if we cannot hire Sheriff’s Deputies because of poor prioritization of county funds. Voters are tired of this poor decision making and want a change.

When I was gathering signatures in the city in Ole Brook and City Hall precincts, most people did not even realize they had a county supervisor.

How can one say they represented ALL of their citizens when a large portion of their constituents (39.68%) don’t even know you represent them? There has been a lack of communication and representation on the part of the current officeholder that MUST be addressed by the next office holder.

They have simply lost their way and lost touch with their citizenry by being in the office too long.


How would you address transparency and accountability of this office?

In today’s world and with today’s technology, there is no reason why board meetings are not live streamed. There is also no reason that questions and concerns from citizens have to be done in person. Most hard working people cannot take off work at 9am on Tuesday morning and go to the courthouse to make their concerns known.

I would vote to open up meetings to both live stream and remote access to bring concerns to the Board. This way, more people can participate in THEIR government. After all, all politics is LOCAL.

I would also formulate a digital access “Question, concern, complaint” platform that would streamline how a constituent would reach the Board for concerns. Most people have moved to mobile device based lifestyles, so the Board should evolve to better meet the needs of their citizenry. Of course, for those less technologically savvy, traditional ways would still be an option via mail and telephone. We need to hear OUR communities when they have concerns.


What are the most pressing issues in this office and how would you address them?

There are so many concerns that community members have brought forward while I collected signatures. The typical ones come to mind—roads, bridges, ditches. We need to better address drainage in the county. As weather patterns and climate change, we need to be aware of the intensified threat of flooding. This issue came up in all parts of the district and one look in my ditch after a heavy rain says that we need to look into an engineer assessment of the issue and see what can be done in problem areas. By using the services of an engineer to create a plan, we can professionally and efficiently solve the issues for taxpayers while not squandering their money by guessing or creating a patchwork of solutions that cause problems elsewhere. We would also use their services going forward to make sure that any future development doesn’t create more issues down the line.

In addition, there are not enough good jobs around here for people because we have failed for decades to build upon our existing economy. Many people face the reality of sending their children off to urban areas after college. Some will go to work in the oil fields or rigs out in the Gulf. While I am not knocking oil field jobs or urban areas, we should have opportunities here. We cannot have new opportunities without a strong local economy to attract larger corporations to locate here.

One of the main reasons for this is that there is no alternative to the city limits of Brookhaven for businesses to locate in the county. We have seen Starbucks, Aldi, Chick-fil-A all locate to McComb after Brookhaven didn’t act soon enough. We have seen Tractor Supply get tied up for over a year trying to locate here. The citizens of Lincoln County would have loved any of these businesses. They would have provided jobs, goods, and services for our citizens, but instead, they went to McComb. I will propose the planning and implementation of a commercial district outside of the city limits of Brookhaven to give a second option in Lincoln County if the City of Brookhaven balks on incoming businesses. While Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A may not be “better paying jobs,” they are part of the fabric of a stronger and vibrant economy which many corporations consider when locating to a new area. These are known as Quality of Life Indicators. Strong economies make for less crime in communities which in turn make for attractive areas for businesses to locate. All of this works together and can be charted and measured by Quality of Life Indicators, which current leadership has failed to recognize when thinking about future opportunities close to home.

These are the minor details many in leadership roles have failed to consider when dealing with the local economy. There has been no foresight into the future needs of Lincoln County or its economy. Because of this, I would nurture and grow future business in Brookhaven and Lincoln County.

This would be done by planning and implementing a business incubator and launch pad program for our community. Communities all across America have created similar programs and have helped launch many national brands from ideas right at home. No longer do we say to our kids, go to where there is more opportunity for you to thrive, stay at home and let us help you bloom where you are planted. This will keep families together and will keep kids and grandkids closer to home.

Lincoln County needs to be open for business again!


How would your role in this office improve Brookhaven and Lincoln County?

I think we need forward thinking leaders in office to help Brookhaven transition from the 20th to the 21st Century before the 21st Century is halfway done. We are missing opportunities to grow our community in positive ways.

When a community is on the decline, crime runs rampant. We are seeing that start to occur here in Lincoln County. I believe that I would foster the growth of a vibrant, diverse, and strong economy that meets the needs of ALL people and ALL areas of the county so that we may all be lifted up and not dragged down. All of this begins within ourselves and begins at home. My positive leadership would help make this possible and improve the lives of ALL of my constituency.


What are your reasons for seeking this office and why should voters elect you?

I want what is best for the citizens of Lincoln County. I want a safe community with less crime and a government that efficiently handles the concerns of its citizens and their families. I want this to continue to be a place that is great to raise a family. We cannot continue to run Lincoln County like it was run in the 70s and 80s. Although I recognize that change can be scary for some, with proper leadership, we can work together to apply modern solutions to modern problems. We have to deal with these problems in order to keep our kids closer to home, our streets safe for our children, and our economy and infrastructure strong for the bright future that we all want for ourselves and our families.

I recently was involved in a fight for the people with the Special Election to overturn the Board of Supervisors’ Opt-Out of the Medical Cannabis Program.

I said enough was enough when elected officials could overturn the will of the people (72% statewide) in favor of their personal beliefs. I, with the help of a close group of friends and family, raised money and resources to collect 1500 signatures of registered voters, got the issue back on the ballot in a special election, ran a campaign to Stop the Opt, and won. I want to make sure that never again does a citizen have to fight so hard to make sure that the principles of democracy are upheld.

I have fought once for Lincoln County and will continue to fight for the will of the people.


Please share any family, personal information you’d like to include.

Jason and his husband, Timothy Gipson, have been together for 17 years. They have 5 dogs and 1 cat. They are avid supporters of local charities, including BARL, from which one of their dogs was adopted. She is a special needs (blind and deaf) dog named Powder.

Together, they have built a successful Tea Farm in East Lincoln/Enterprise area and have won numerous national and international awards for their tea. Jason is also an award winning cookbook author and was recently nominated for the Best Tea

Inspired Chef by World Tea Media.

Jason is an ordained minister and has been in the business community in Brookhaven since 2001. He graduated Millsaps College with a degree in Religious

Studies. He also attended Mississippi College School of Law.

Jason was the founder of Teen-Aged Republicans of Tangipahoa Parish and also has served on the Lincoln County Democratic Executive Committee. Because of these experiences, he believes that there should be a common sense middle of the road path to governance, which is why he chose to run as an independent. He is here for the work not for the party.