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Aldermen runoff candidates speak about bigotry, stances

After being rescheduled due to severe weather forecasts in September, the run-off election for the vacant seat on Poplarville’s Board of Aldermen will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

The election will determine who will finish Tony Smith’s term. Smith resigned from his position with the city in July after being appointed to the state parole board.

The race initially had five candidates, but headed into a run-off election after candidates Daniel H. Brown and Jacob Cochran received 84 and 80 votes respectively.

The Item asked each candidate about their plans for Poplarville.

Homophobia

A local pastor recently gave a sermon suggesting that Cochran should not be voted into office because he is gay. The sermon was live streamed on Facebook. The Item asked each candidate if they had any comment on the incident.

“I think one thing to remember is that the love definitely outweighs the hate in Poplarville. The amount of love and positivity and true support I’ve received from true Christians after that is amazing,” said Cochran.

Cochran said he did not want to make his campaign about being gay, but he did feel it was important to address the sermon publicly.

“If I didn’t shine a light on his hate speech then I would be doing a disservice to LGBT youth in the South. I think that hate speech really instills fear and can promote violence so not calling it out would be dangerous.”

Brown said he was disappointed and saddened when he heard about the sermon on Saturday night.

“I’ve known Jacob for a long time. He’s welcome in my home at any time. If I could do anything for him as a human being I would want to do it. I think I set that example on Sunday morning,” said Brown.

On Sunday Brown and Cochran took a photo together and posted it on their social media pages with the hashtags “Poplarville Proud” and “Poplarville Strong.”

“That’s the message I want to send. If we stand together we can do great things,” said Brown. “To answer your question more directly, I don’t agree with the pastor’s remarks. It has no relevance to this race.”

Infrastructure and Roads

“My whole thing is improving businesses enough to improve the budget. It is making sure sales tax is improved upon to improve the budget to improve infrastructure more,” said Cochran.

Cochran wants to start a Main Street program in Poplarville and make the city more of a tourist destination. While it does cost money for a city to join a Main Street program, Cochran said he would seek private funds for the initial cost and has found some people who are interested.

Brown said that if elected he would vote for any measure that can improve infrastructure.

“I do want to be very careful about what we obligate ourselves to, so we don’t find ourselves in a bad financial situation down the road…Whatever issues come before us, I will research it very carefully and weigh the pros and cons,” said Brown.

Growing Poplarville

Brown said he wants to see a large employer come to Poplarville to improve the tax base.

“Poplarville has a development plan. Our city fathers some 10 years ago had hired a firm to come in and create a land use plan. I think if we stick to that, we can grow Poplarville very carefully in a controlled way to make the best use of the land we already have and attract businesses that want to come here…I think if we do all of that right, small business and Main Street will grow as a latent effect of it,” said Brown.

Cochran said he believes growth starts with revitalizing Main Street and improving local festivals.

“These major businesses want to see towns that can support themselves before they come here,” said Cochran. “We have very few high paying jobs in Poplarville and I would love to see more of those, but until we do get on our own feet that’s not going to happen.”

Stance on Taxes

“I will fight and fight to improve things that we already have before I would ever consider to raise taxes,” said Cochran.

“I don’t want to pay more taxes unless I have to,” said Brown. “I think if I were faced with that issue right now, voting on a measure to raise taxes, I think I would want to talk to my constituents…That’s a measure that I would go to great length to speak to the people that put me in office so that I could make a very informed decision on that.”

Managing City Funds

Brown said that he would like to increase the amount of funds the city has saved. Cities are legally required to have two months of operating expenses available at all times, and he would like to work over time to stretch that to nine months or a year.

“Financially in my personal life I’m a pretty conservative person,” said Brown. “I believe in the attribute of saving. My father taught me haste equals waste. Do we really need it? What’s the impact today and what’s the impact 10 years from now? That’s my whole approach to anything I do in life and that’s my approach if I were elected to handle city affairs.”

Cochran said he wants to start programs that would not cost the city money, but would encourage growth to increase how much is allotted to the police and fire departments.

“I’ve spoken to both the chief of police and the fire chief. Just from talking to them, I’m concerned about how they could possibly operate on small budgets,” said Cochran.