January 11, 2017 10:31:22 AM
Two more challengers have emerged in city council races in Columbus.
Local communications worker and area pastor Troy Miller qualified to face incumbent Joseph Mickens in the Ward 2 council race.
In Ward 5, Mark Ward, former assistant fire chief with Columbus Fire and Rescue, qualified to run against incumbent councilman Stephen Jones.
To date, three of Columbus' six incumbent councilmen have challengers, as two previously qualified to take on Marty Turner in Ward 4. Mayor Robert Smith also has a challenger for this year's municipal elections in former Columbus Police Department chief Selvain McQueen.
Municipal party primary elections will be held on May 2 with runoffs on May 16, if necessary. General elections will be held on June 6.
Qualifications will remain open until 5 p.m. on March 3. Candidates can register to run at the city registrar's office at 1621 Main St.
Miller, 53, works with L-3 Communications at Columbus Air Force Base, and is the pastor of Woodlawn CME Church in Macon.
Miller is a New Orleans, Louisiana, native but was stationed at Columbus Air Force Base from 1981-85. He returned to live in Columbus in 1988.
He said he hopes to be an accessible councilman for residents, if elected.
"I want to give the citizens of Ward 2 a responsive councilman," Miller said. "I want to have better communication with other councilmen. I also want better communications with elected county officials -- city-county interactions should have a better, more cooperative environment."
Miller has run for the seat before in 2001. This time, he said he's "running to really win," because he wants to see improved relations between the council and residents. He said he also wants to work to improve community-police department relations. Drainage problems on Maple Street, where he lives, are also a concern, Miller said.
"We need to be responsible to those who elect us," Miller said. "It's not just about policy, it's about service -- we've got to serve the citizens."
Mickens is seeking his seeking his third term as Ward 2's councilman. He's represented the ward since 2009.
Ward, 51, retired from his post as assistant fire chief in April 2016. He'd worked with the city since 1987, when he started at the fire department. He is a Columbus native.
Now retired, Ward works three days a week at Military Hardware, and serves on the historic preservation commission.
He said he considered running in last year's special election to fill former councilman Kabir Karriem's seat but couldn't because he still worked for the city.
"I've served the city for 30 years and I'd like to serve them a little more," Ward said.
If given the chance, Ward said he'd like to focus on several areas as a councilman, from economic development to working to reduce crime.
"I'd like to attract some industry to the city -- not just in the county but to the city," he said. "Crime is still a problem, and I'd like to work with the police department to get them to the staffing levels they're supposed to be at. As far as being fiscally responsible with the city's money, that's something I'm really big in because I used to work with a budget at the fire department."
Ward said he'd also like to draw from his experience as assistant fire chief, if elected.
"I got to work closely with the mayor and council and all the department heads," he said. "I have a good relationship with the department heads. I know them by name and they know me by name, and we worked together. I think I can get things done through that relationship."
Jones won the Ward 5 seat in March to serve the remainder of former councilman Kabir Karriem's term. Karriem left the council at the end of 2015 to begin serving as the Democratic representative for District 43 in the Mississippi House of Representatives.
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