Precinct 5 candidates share stances

Published 12:01 pm Saturday, March 20, 2021

Three candidates are running for the position of Councilor within Picayune’s Precinct 5. Here are some of their stances.

Larry Cagle

Cagle said he is running for office because he sees things that need to be changed, such as poor customer service when dealing with the city’s utility department.

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He also wants to see the current beautification efforts expanded beyond the downtown area of the city. He points to poor sidewalks and ineffective drainage in various parts of the city. Cagle also feels the city was not a good steward of Kids Kingdom after so much effort was put forth to rebuild it years prior under the Pennies for Your Park effort.

While he is aware the job of Councilor is intended to be part time, he plans to put full time hours in to be available to anyone in any precinct to answer questions.

Cagle supports economic development and wants to see the support given to larger companies provided to smaller businesses in this city. He feels too much of the tax burden is placed on the small business owner.

“It breaks my heart to see a business start and not flourish,” Cagle said. “Why does a large corporation get a free ride while small businesses take the burden?”

He concedes that it will take a concerted effort by a majority of the Council to enact the change needed to ensure small businesses succeed.

His list of qualifications include being able to speak with people and having the ability to listen to their ideas. He also cites 16 years as a law enforcement officer.

As for the spending of the city’s tax dollars, his plan is simple.

“We need to spend as though it comes out of our own pockets,” Cagle said.

He is not for a tax increase and if annexation were to be discussed, he would have several questions to ensure it’s done for the right reasons; not to increase the tax base or be able to sell alcohol further out into the county.

Frank Ford

Ford said he is running for Councilor because it was something he’s been wanting to do for a long time. Now that work constraints are no longer in the way, he is on the ballot.

While knocking on doors, constituents in his precinct told him that their biggest concern is drainage.

“I would also like to work on economic development. We need to get jobs and the tax base up,” Ford said.

If elected, he would like to establish live streaming of all Council meetings to create transparency and ensure those who can’t attend the meetings have the option to view them remotely.

He would also like to employ a smartphone application to help keep the public alerted to weather, infrastructure repairs and other vital information.

As for the current state of economic development, Ford said there is room for improvement since the city offers access to an interstate, rail and close proximity to other larger cities. He would like to see the city join forces with the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors to bring businesses and industry here.

His qualifications include 15 years of public service through time on the Picayune airport board, a former trustee with a local Methodist church and for the past eight years he has served on the Picayune School District’s Board of Trustees.

Ford feels the best way to spend the city’s tax dollars would be to continue to concentrate on infrastructure. He would also like to see public safety and parks receive adequate funding.

Ford does not support a tax increase and said he does not have enough information to speak about the possibility of annexation. He added that he considers himself to be a fiscal conservative.

Robert “Joe” May

May said he decided to run for office because he wants to get involved instead of sitting on the sidelines. He cites the city’s high poverty rate and low median income when compared to the state average as issues that need to be resolved.

“That is a shame that we live in one of the poorest states and we don’t meet that standard,” May said. “In Picayune we have a reputation of being winners, but a third of our population is below the poverty line.”

Some challenges he sees include drainage issues in his precinct, aging infrastructure in the city, and the need to ensure citizens earn a living wage.

He would like to see Friendship Park better utilized to attract tournaments and bring in tourism dollars, relocation of more and bigger industry to produce jobs, and a plan to ensure young people don’t feel the need to move away from Picayune to find good paying jobs.

While tax incentives are one way to attract more industry and business, May feels the city also needs to focus on convincing Internet providers to offer higher speeds.

He wants to keep Picayune’s family atmosphere, but at the same time create the next industrial boom for the area.

“Picayune has a history of economic booms, such as the lumber industry and Tung nut industry,” May said.

To address economic development, he wants to see a new economic developer hired soon and to see collaboration between the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce, local civic clubs, city government and any other entity that may have a vested interest in the city’s success.

Additionally, he feels utilizing the asset Pearl River Community College provides in the aspect of job training would help attract new companies.

His qualifications include six years in the Navy as a cryptologist where he worked with people from various backgrounds and ideologies to accomplish a common goal. He feels that more teamwork is needed within the Council due to the current infighting he has detected by reading Council minutes.

May would like to see tax dollars used to support the public works department and provide a pay raise to first responders.

He does not support a tax increase since he believes more money could be raised by being creative with business and tourism taxes.

As for annexation, May said he gets the feeling the people living in outlying areas do not want to be annexed, and he would need to have a better understanding of why the last annexation took place. However he does support the creation of new areas that could be used to bring in more industry.