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My Hometown Politics

If you are a new transplant to the area, you have now experienced a dose of hometown politics that would make a John Grisham novel proud or either a Mark Twain story. It is humorous, awkward, and very small town. Although, from what I have heard of our neighboring state’s campaigns it is still relatively tame unless the stories I have heard are like the big fish that got away and it grows along the lines of the telling.

From the wet and dry issue post Katrina, to the heated races of supervisors and sheriff, little Pearl River County is stirring with much water cooler debate.

Any spot where people “stop and chat” the conversation will turn to who to vote for in the local political race. Did you hear? Someone told me that……I heard so and so supports him; well I heard this one did that! Rumors, gossip, and speculation are running rabid through the streets.

I even wrote a column about wondering if my own name was on a road sign running for sheriff several months back and the humor of my fellow column readers was challenged as one provided a beautifully professionally printed sign that graced the front of my office on memorial boulevard. There it was in big letters, Tracy Williams …SHERIFF.

I can’t accept the office; I only have experience as deputy in charge till daddy gets home.

Signs are a big part of local politics and lately I have been so bombarded with signs, signs, everywhere a sign that I hardly notice them anymore. Until, the signs became vandalized and I took notice again.

It could be a great strategic move to vandalize your own sign so the other guy looks bad, but I feel certain it is more like teens being brain damaged rather than disgruntled politicians. At least, I took notice of the sign with new interest and even spoke of it to others. You know what they say, there is no bad publicity.

It is not all a political statement to disfigure a sign; it is about someone with too much time, a low IQ and a can of spray paint. A few months ago, I saw an insurance agent’s billboard photo doctored up with horns, glasses and a mustache. This weekend I saw on Caesar Road another display of the same artistic skills on a candidate for sheriff’s photo. The only difference was on one side they used a brightly colored, fluorescent red. Very eye catching!

Sadly, the following day near the radio station a supervisor’s sign had in big letters a word that I can not type into this column. Vulgar, not creative!

I have heard through the political rumor mill, some signs have been pulled up and burned in people’s yards as if we are returning to the era of burning crosses, using political signs instead. Shame.

Now the debate should subside and the signs should on the whole start fading away, hopefully pulled up and packed away so we do not have to look at them anymore. We can get back to just looking at real estate signs.

I don’t know about you, but everyday when I come home, my answering machine is full of political messages. My door is decorated with pamphlets and flyers and my mailbox is full of letters and postcards. I am being courted every day and if any candidate sends chocolate or flowers, I am in.

I feel so special. Like my vote counts for something, because someone is trying really, really hard to convince me to use it on them; I actually have a bit of power to wield. Not only can I use my finger power in the voting booth, but I can verbally pass along my opinion, more power. I can stick a sign in my yard…more power. I can put a magnetic sign on my vehicle…more power. I can tattoo the twins…more power!! I have to be careful with all this power; it is starting to go to my head!

The county is bursting with change and the local politics seem more important than they did even five years ago. We need movers and shakers, those who will bring future forethought to their plate and throw out the attitude of doing it like it has always been done. Yet, they must embrace the values and character of a small town lifestyle that appeals to many born and transplanted here. What we ask of leaders is not an easy task. Shame if they take the reigns lightly.

Sometimes I feel like we are a Brigadoon community that has been asleep for a hundred years and now must make up for lost time. The awakening after post Katrina has made this community face some tough challenges and sticking heads in the sand does not work anymore. The times they are a changing.

We are growing and we are blending in other cultures and lifestyles. We can grumble and spit or we can accept the new way.

It is easier for those of us who can adapt. I know many of our residents have lived in the same place for all their lives, eating the same exact foods they ate from childhood, do the same things over and over and never break their routine. For those, change is very painful.

My hometown is not the same as when I began this column over eight years ago, and neither am I. Life has a way of making you think, forcing you to accept certain realities, and you can do this by fighting it or rolling with it.

I at least can take responsibility for my little world and vote, so for all of you that did not participate, you lose the right to complain.

As for me, I will be able to complain, whine and speak my mind for months to come so bring on the next election. Plus, I need to start my next campaign, Tracy Williams for Governor.