By David A. Farrell, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Shortly before the board of aldermen convened for its first January session Wednesday afternoon, alderman Bill Winborn said he will file to run for mayor of Poplarville, challenging current Mayor Billy Spiers.
Then shortly before the board went into an executive session, Spiers was asked by the press if he would seek re-election, and he replied, “I certainly am.”
Spiers has been either an alderman or the mayor here for 32 years.
He’s popular with his constituents and is credited with doing a good job overall. In the last three years, during tough economic times, Poplarville has not raised taxes, but some of that credit would go to the rest of the board of aldermen, too. Spiers credits the board for its good management practices.
All six board members, which includes the mayor, are elected at-large. There are five aldermen and one mayor. They don’t run in districts. They appear to work together well during the sessions, expressing only mild disagreements in an orderly and well-mannered fashion. By far, however, Winborn is the most outspoken.
There’s one thing the Poplarville board of aldermen meeting is not, and that’s boisterous. If anyone gets out of hand, they are quickly called down.
Winborn, after the session ended, said he is good friends with Spiers, and filed because “I have some issues that I want discussed before voters, like expansion of the city’s boundaries.”
However, Winborn jokes, “I am doing the mayor a favor. Who else would file to run against us, and who would vote for me as mayor?”
Winborn is serious about what Poplarville faces, though. He says he wants to expand the city limits to help cushion what he says is an inevitable hike in taxes because of the decline in property values.
Spiers recently helped guide the board through a crisis that resulted in the police department setting up its own dispatching service on Jan. 1 for non-emergency calls. The sheriff’s department threatened to cut off dispatching services unless the city came up with $85,000 a year to pay for two dispatchers.
The resulting answer to the problem will directly save City of Poplarville residents money, since the solution will cost taxpayers $17,000 a year as opposed to $85,000. The board had input into the solution, as well as the police department.
Spiers pointed out while answering the question of whether he would run again that “this board works together well, and we are all interested mainly in the welfare of the city and its residents.” He also points out that all board members were re-elected during the last city elections.
Mississippi will hold municipal elections this year. Wednesday was the first day prospective candidates could file. The filing deadline is March 8. Party primaries are May 8; the runoff, if needed, is May 21, and the General Election is June 4.
Winborn is in his fourth term as an alderman. He is a retired from Movie Star where he was a manager. Spiers was a Poplarville businessman, owning and running Bill’s Fried Chicken. Winborn said he would file “in the next few days.”
During the short first-of-the-year session on Wednesday, the board:
— Approved the Dec. 18, 2012, board minutes.
— Approved the Jan. 2, 2013, claims docket.
— Tabled a discussion of regulation of garage sales.
— Awarded the bid for cleaning up and maintaining Forest Lawn Cemetery to C&W, which at $4,800 a year was the lowest bidder.
— Took under advisement a lease agreement with Norfolk Southern Corp.
— Took under advisement a sewer billing and collection contract.
— Went into an executive session to discuss personnel.
— Recessed to 5 p.m. on Jan. 15.