Holliday addresses Rotarians

Published 2:02 pm Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pearl River County District Three Supervisor Hudson Holliday told Picayune Rotarians on Tuesday at their noon luncheon that he felt the current board of supervisors has “effectively eliminated an old north-south political split” that for decades has plagued the county both politically and economically.

Holliday said he spoke to Rotarians as a county supervisor, and was not appearing as a political candidate for governor before the club. Holliday is seeking the GOP nomination for governor.

He chose not to run for re-election as supervisor in District Three while simultaneously campaigning for governor, since he said he believed voters would consider it “disingenuous” to run for both offices at the same time.

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Holliday, who rose from a private to become a brigadier general in the Mississippi Army National Guard before retiring, arrived in public office in the District Three seat on what some local observers say was a reform wave in the November 2007 election that saw only one incumbent, board president and District One Supervisor Anthony Hales, Sr., returned to office.

Holliday, District Four Supervisor J. Patrick Lee, District Five Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith and District Two Supervisor the late Charles Culpepper were new to office.

Culpepper died in office and was replaced by his wife, Joyce Culpepper. She was first appointed by supervisors and then in November  won a special election to finish out her late husband’s term.

Holliday told Rotarians that he had supported projects in the south end of the county, such as Chimney Square and the Ridge Road project, and that Lee and Smith had supported projects in the north end of the county.

Pearl River County is one of the largest counties in Mississippi, and stretching back to the 1950s and even earlier, there has been a political split with southern end politicians saying that the Picayune area, which has the bulk of the population, was not adequately represented on the board of supervisors.

Power brokers in the southern end charged that the three northern beats held the balance of power.

The political disputes got especially heated during the 1960s when former editor and publisher of the Picayune Item, the late Charles Nutter, consistently editorially hammered the northern politicians over tax and representation issues. At one point the issue even reached the courts in a 1960s redistricting lawsuit.

“I think we as a board have erased that problem,” said Holliday.

Holliday also said the board had established a “good working relationship” with the county’s two municipalities, Picayune and Poplarville. “We have a good relationship with officials of both Picayune and Poplarville, and we are doing work inside the cities to help,” he said.

“Residents who live in the cities pay county taxes, too,” said Holliday.

He added, “All of us on the board look at the county in total, not just as our district. It doesn’t matter where the person lives; when someone has a problem, we all try to solve it.”

“I believe this board has had a good record; we have accomplished a lot more than most have,” said Holliday.

As examples of progress, Holliday pointed to the Chimney Square new county complex on Goodyear Boulevard;  the proposed lake at Millard; the fact that the board so far has not raised taxes; made budget cuts, although painful, to stay in line with projected short tax revenues; pushed a clean-up campaign; upgrading the county hospital; completion of black-topping all county public roads; the DHS building construction underway at Millard; a proposed county courthouse square expansion; upgrading the fairgrounds; and establishing the county court system, which Holliday said will, in the long-run, save taxpayers money.

Holliday told Rotarians, “Good people ought to get involved in the electoral process and put themselves up for local office.”

He added, “The office of supervisor is a very important office, and we need to look at who is running and elect the best qualified person for those jobs, and not who is kin to us, or what church he belongs to, but who is best qualified and who has a vision to move this county forward.”