Two of three candidates for Poplarville mayor share stances at debate
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Just shy of a week before the municipal primary election, the Dixon Theater in Poplarville hosted a mayoral debate and forum Monday night to give candidates a chance to share their platforms.
Mayoral candidates Rossie Creel and David Glenn Bolin, both Republicans, answered a series of questions submitted to the theater by community members.
Mayoral candidate and current Alderman Byron Wells, also running as a Republican, was not present.
Moderator Peter Egan, Sr., the president of the Republican Executive Committee of St. Tammany Parish, pushed the candidates to answer each question with as much specificity as possible.
The candidates were questioned on potential cuts or adjustments they would make to the city’s budget, if elected. As a current alderman, Bolin said the city is already strapped for funds, and reducing funding to the police or fire departments simply wasn’t possible.
Creel, a long-time law enforcement officer and current Poplarville School resource officer, said the city has a lot of non-essential spending, but did not specify what he would cut from the budget.
When asked to make a list of priorities, both candidates agreed paving streets and repairing infrastructure were at the top of their list. Bolin went on to specify Jacobs Street, South Pine Street and a failing waterline on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.
Another topical issue concerned the county’s plan to instate a one percent sales tax on hotel rooms and prepared foods.
Bolin said he supports the measure as a way to fund a new economic development council. Creel said he would not support any form of increased taxes because Poplarville lacks a hotel and because Pearl River County is one of the most taxed counties in Mississippi.
Both candidates said they would support hard liquor sales in the city if voters approved a referendum via ballot.
The city’s drug problem was also discussed during the initial round of questions, and the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana was brought up in a final round of questions from the audience.
Bolin said that even without a detective employed in the city, the police department and sheriff’s department are doing a good job of removing narcotics.
Concerning the decriminalization of marijuana, Bolin disagreed with its recreational use, but said it has medicinal benefits.
As a law enforcement officer, Creel said he conducted a lot of community outreach programs to push awareness of the issue. He agreed marijuana has medical benefits and refuted it as a gateway drug. Creel said that in his law enforcement experience, the use of narcotics like cocaine or heroin stem from a mental health issue, not the use of marijuana. He expressed support for marijuana to be strictly regulated like tobacco and alcohol.
The candidates agreed on other issues such as not wanting to incorporate outside areas into the city limits and the necessity of homeschool programs. In terms of the city’s growth, both candidates said they welcome growth, but wanted to maintain the city’s charm.
Bolin said that bringing large corporations to town like Walmart would provide little added service because a Walmart already exists within a 20-mile radius. Though, he said if the company wanted to locate a distribution center in town, he would welcome it.
Following the debate, five of the seven candidates for aldermen spoke about their respective platforms, including Rochelle Holliday (R), Anne Gendusa Smith (R), incumbent Margaret Ann Smith (D), Tony Smith (R) and incumbent Shirley Wiltshire (D).
Heather Holliday (R) and Kevin L. Tillman, Sr. (D) did not attend due to scheduling conflicts.
Voting for the primary election will take place on May 2, with a runoff scheduled for May 16. The election for Alderman is set for June 6. Footage of Monday’s event is available on the Dixon Theater Facebook page.