WATER VALLEY – Tuesday is Election Day and in the only contested race incumbent Ward Two Aldermen Fred White will face Ray Hawkins.
White will be seeking his seventh full term in the May 7 Democratic Primary Election. He served two years of the term of James Nicholson Jr. who resigned in 1987 before winning his first full term in 1989.
A life-long Water Valley resident, White graduated from high school in 1967 and attended Mississippi Valley State University where he learned the brick-laying trade. He returned home and began working in 1970.
White said that his reason for running for the Ward Two Alderman’s post was because he wanted to serve the people. “I serve the Lord first and then the people of Water Valley.”
One of his first accomplishments was being on the city board that sought grants from HUD to improve housing in Water Valley. “We were able to repair a lot of homes,” he said.
He was also part of the board that built the first “spec” building in the Gardiner Industrial Park and helped bring Steele Manu-facturing Co. and Concept Mold, Inc. to this area.
When Motts, Inc. closed their poultry processing facility, White said that the board worked to bring a new company in to open and operate the plant.
White said that he would continue to work on improvements to the vitally important water and sewer system and to the municipal airport.
Hawkins told the Herald he is ready to bring some fresh ideas to the town. He said that the enthusiasm behind the success of the Water Valley Main Street could overlap other areas in town. “I like what they are doing.”
“With the support of our Board of Alderman, I don’t know why we can’t foster that same type of commitment throughout our community,” he said. “Whatever it takes to unify the city and make it more appealing.”
Hawkins, a life-long city resident and currently assistant chief of police for the University of Mississippi, is also a former Water Valley District School Board Trustee. And, as a two-term school board member, he also stressed the importance of providing a constructive place for the city’s youth to gather.
He said that for years there has been talk about building a community activity center, but no action. Hawkins added that the young people have plenty of sports activities, but a community center would reach more youngsters. “If you could appeal to the youth, we could get some growth.”
Hawkins would like to see a proactive approach in city government, pointing to turnover in the fire department and unsolved homicides in the town. “We are having trouble finding firemen and we could lose our (insurance) rating.”
“I want to get in city government now,” Hawkins said and explained that in two years he could retire from the university position. “I don’t know where it is leading me,” he said. “I want to be one of those people who, when you tell me what you want as a citizen, I try to think of a way to make it happen.”
Voting in the Ward Two Democratic Primary will be at the Yalobusha County Courthouse from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, according to City Clerk Vivian Snider.
City Hall will be open Saturday morning from 8 a.m. until noon for absentee voting, she added.
“There will not have to be a General Election,” Snider explained. “The Primary will determine the winner.”
The results will have to be certified by the Democratic Executive Committee and reported to the state. Even though there will not have to be a General Election, in June the Municipal Election Committee will have to certify Ward Four Larry Bell, who is running unopposed as an independent candidate.
In Yalobusha County’s two towns, voters will go to the polls only for the General Election on June 4 since the candidates run as independents.
Coffeeville has only one contested race, the Alderman-At-Large post, pitting incumbent Bryan K. McCullough against Mack Dudley in a repeat of the 2009 election.
Voting will be in Coffeeville’s Town Hall on Tuesday, June 4, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Town Hall will be open Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon for absentee voting and again on Saturday, May 25.
Current town officials who will return for another four years are Mayor Mack Burns, Ward 1 Alderman Eva Longstreet, Ward 2 Alder-man George E. “Chick” Miller, Ward 3 Alderman Joe Bourn and Ward 4 Alderman Michael Ayers.
In Oakland, incumbent Mayor James Riley will face Town Clerk Lula Alford. In the Aldermen’s race are incumbents George Booker, Jr., Joe W. Jenkins, Terry Ellis and Sharonda Jones. They face challengers Marzet Bland, Ben Patterson, William David Robinson and Lottie Patterson.
Each Oakland voter will select five Aldermen candidates and the top five vote getters will win the race.
Town Hall will be open Saturday, May 25, and Saturday, June 1, for absentee voting.