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Candidates for alderman share stances

The Item caught up with the six candidates for Poplarville’s Board of Aldermen and talked with them about their priorities if elected and why they want to serve in public office.
There are five seats on the Board. Four of the candidates are incumbents running for re-election, one candidate previously served in public office and one candidate would be new to holding public office.

Daniel Brown

Brown is running for re-election after being elected during a special election last year to fill Tony Smith’s vacant seat.

“There’s a lot of good people, a lot of kind people that placed their faith in me and I want to finish what I started,” said Brown.

If re-elected, Brown said his top priorities in office would be attracting an employer to come to Poplarville. He believes if given a full term in office, he would be able to dig in on economic development and identify barriers that prevent business development in Poplarville.

Brown operates a funeral home and believes he is good at problem solving.

“I’m willing to listen to all sides of a discussion. I try not to form opinions walking into something. That’s wisdom I’ve learned over the years, not to be hasty in making any decisions.”

Russell Miller

Miller is running for re-election. He was elected during a special election in 2018 to fill Alderwoman Margaret Ann Smith’s seat.

Miller said he is running for re-election for the same reason he originally wanted to serve.

“Poplarville has given me so much,” he said.

Miller has owned businesses in Poplarville since 1992 and previously worked in law enforcement.

If re-elected, Miller said his top priorities in office would be paving and repairing city streets and supporting businesses.

“We need to get more housing in town, we need to get more industry to come into town, but the small businesses are typically the ones that suffer when the economy takes a downturn,” said Miller.

Miller believes he can lead on issues, but is also willing to sit back and listen to other ideas.

“If it’s not good for everyone in the city, it doesn’t help anyone at all.”

Bobby Nestle

Nestle ran for a seat on the Board in the special election last year. If elected this would be his first time serving in public office.

“I haven’t been in the political arena before, but I want to do something to help this town and to be a leader in this town.”

If elected, Nestle said his top priorities in office would be supporting a golf cart ordinance, supporting small businesses and attracting more industry.

“Nobody hangs out in town anymore of any age. It just seems quiet any time you go anywhere. We’ve got this Town Green we’ve built and we need to start using it and promoting it,” said Nestle.

Nestle has worked in managerial roles in businesses and was a commander in the Poplarville unit of the National Guard.

“In the military any time you’re planning an operation or anything like that, it’s always done in a group setting and I’m always going to look at every side of a situation.”

Anne Smith

Smith is running for re-election. She has been in public service for three years through the Chamber of Commerce and eight years as a member of the Board of Aldermen.

“I have a very good gut about things, the ability to research. I have knowledge and that’s very valuable to the city because we’re in very unforeseen times,” she said.

If re-elected her number one priority would be improving quality of life in Poplarville. She thinks the key to that would be economic development, more work on city streets and attracting new businesses to the city.

“I want a new fire truck and I have been personally looking for grants and pushing at the state level for grant money for that. I personally will continue to bring those things up in Board meetings.”

Smith wants to prioritize city employee retention and would like to look for grants to fund recreation projects in the city.

Kevin Tillman

Tillman is running for a second term as Alderman. He was first elected in 2017.

“I want to finish out what I started, and basically that is to get some activities for the young kids to do,” said Tillman.

Tillman said he is working on finding a grant to build a basketball court in the city. If re-elected, his focus would also be on improving infrastructure and bringing more restaurants and businesses to the city. Tillman said he’d like to see a shoe store and a Churches or Popeye’s open in the city.

“My top priority is going to be infrastructure, that’s going to be top priority and to hopefully get the rest of the back roads paved. Secondly is to bring in businesses.”

Tillman said he’s learned a lot serving in his first term, and from former Alderwoman

Maggie Smith and current Alderwoman Shirley Wiltshire. He said that knowledge has prepared him to serve a second term.

Byron Wells

Wells has previously served 16 years on the Board of Aldermen and four years as a Pearl River County Supervisor. He is not on the current Board.

“I’m interested in helping the business community grow because I’m a business owner and have been for years,” said Wells.

If elected, some of his top priorities would be street repairs, helping new businesses find funding and making sure the police and fire departments have up-to-date equipment.

He also wants Poplarville and Picayune to work together on economic development.

“You just don’t grow a town over night. You need to get a plan laid out. You need a short-term plan, you need a long term plan and to work towards something instead of just being a town that reacts when things happen.”

Wells said he wants to promote the town and help businesses take advantage of existing resources from state agencies, SMPDD and Pearl River Community College.

Election Dates

Primary Election Day will be April 6. If needed, a runoff will be held April 27.

The general election will be June 8, and winners will begin their terms in municipal office July 1.

To cast a ballot in the primary, voters had to have been registered by March 8. To cast a ballot in the general election, voters should be registered by May 10. Voters can check the status of their voter registration at sos.ms.gov/vote or by calling the Circuit Clerk’s office.