The citizens of District 1 in Oktibbeha County have a buffet of choices for supervisor this year.
The most crowded race in the county has seven candidates vying to represent District 1 on the board of supervisors, and that”s after one candidate dropped out of the race.
Carl Clardy currently holds the position and is finishing his third term. The position pays $44,000 and requires the supervisors to keep close tabs on the condition of roads, bridges, culverts, ditches and any other infrastructure which may need work. The supervisor must attend monthly meetings where he or she prioritizes the upkeep of said infrastructure with the rest of the board and decides where tax dollars will be allocated, not only for infrastructure, but for education, health care, law enforcement and all other county services.
In between meetings, the supervisors is responsible for staying in touch with his or her constituents, as well as county officials such as the road manager and county administrator.
Clardy, 58, has served as a full-time supervisor for the last 12 years. The former Oktibbeha County Sheriff”s Office deputy chose not to work another job to focus all of his attention on District 1.
Clardy counts helping people as the best part of his job and enjoys staying connected to the county fire department, sheriff”s department and “everyone involved in what I do.” The Maben High School grad says staying plugged in to the pulse of his district has kept him in office for three terms.
“I feel I”ve proven myself. People know who and what I am,” he said.
Clardy counts upkeep of county roads as his greatest achievement while in office, but also prides himself on being attentive to the needs of county schools, fire departments and the sheriff”s department.
Clardy is a Democrat.
John Prate Montgomery Jr.
John Montgomery, 33, was selling insurance in 1999 when he graduated from Mississippi State University with honors, earning a bachelor”s degree in financial management. Soon after, the Starkville native went to work with the Starkville Fire Department and has been there for the past 10 years.
Montgomery, who also runs his own landscaping business, wants to put his education and experience to use controlling spending while promoting growth from small business to major industry.
“Economic development planning needs to be a top priority. We need to be a county businesses want to come to,” said Montgomery. “This will broaden the tax base and create jobs, allowing us to get more done.”
He says a pro-business attitude in the county will eventually put a halt to tax hikes.
Montgomery is a Republican.
Donald P. Nash
Don Nash, 61, has worked for the county as a road maintenance technician for the past 13 years. During that time, he says he”s seen room for improvement, waste that could be cut and believes he can cut costs without cutting service to county citizens.
Nash, an Aberdeen High School graduate who has spent the past 26 years in Oktibbeha County, says it”s time for a change in District 1.
“We need somebody who will work for District 1 and the whole county instead of sitting on their laurels and not doing anything,” he said. “We can”t keep going like (President Barack) Obama and spending money we don”t have. If we run out of money, we can”t keep doing what we”re doing. And I”m not for raising taxes.”
Nash is a Democrat.
Alander Neal, 29, works as a data management specialist at the North Mississippi Center for Higher Education Advancement in West Point. He also oversees federal programs, grants and business development for entrepreneurship.
Neal, a Starkville High School and Mississippi State University grad, believes his work in management and with small businesses has put him in a position to attract companies to Oktibbeha while maintaining existing services.
“I can bring innovative ideas to the table that can spur economic development for small business and also bring a major company here,” he said. “I work with small businesses every day. People want to start small businesses but don”t have the direction how to start.”
Neal also has his sights set on improving health care, education and paving gravel roads in District 1 he believes are a health hazard to citizens. He says his conversations with citizens have also identified drainage as a concern, and he hopes to provide relief.
Neal is a Democrat.
Jim W. Scrivener
Jim Scrivener, 56, believes spending is out of control in Oktibbeha County.
“We”re in dire need of someone with business ability. With our bond debt, I think we”ve mortgaged ourselves out. Property tax is running sky high compared to other counties. It”s wildfire spending with the board of supervisors. They”re giving money away to for profit and nonprofit groups out the wazoo,” he said.
Scrivener, a Maben High School graduate with a degree in banking and finance from MSU, works in procurement contracts at MSU, but has owned his own photography business for the last 30 years and previously worked as a budget analyst for the federal government. He says Oktibbeha County has some assets it can sell to ease the burden on taxpayers and then needs to take a cue from the state of Mississippi and cut spending.
“We”ve taken drastic cuts with our budgets and Oktibbeha hasn”t done anything except add taxes and millage. It”s time to say ”thank you” to the tax payers,” he said. “The board is currently more interested in trying to pave roads than find some kind of relief for taxpayers.”
Scrivener is a Republican.
Willie L. Thompson Jr.
Willie Thompson Jr., 68, son of former county supervisor Willie Thompson Sr., wants to carry on his father”s legacy of straightforward representation.
“He wasn”t highly educated. His reputation in the community was as a very honest man,” said Thompson of his father.
Now Thompson, who is retired from Cal-Main Foods and formerly farmed soybeans and cattle, wants to leave his stamp on his native county by controlling spending and attracting industry.
“I”ve looked at the debt structure of the county and the unhappiness of the rural part of the people who do not feel they”re being served properly on the roads,” he said. “With my experience as the division manager of a corporation, I dealt with budgets every day, following and reading them to pull the fat out.”
Thompson, who holds a degree in education from Delta State University and worked for a time as a purchasing agent for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, believes a more business-like approach to county government, along with the right incentives, could bring another big employer to Oktibbeha.
Thompson is a Republican.
Ed Whitehurst Jr.
Ed Whitehurst, 40, wants to put his business experience to work for Oktibbeha County. The owner of EZ Auto Repair and former Starkville Ford salesman believes District 1 deserves greater accountability and business sense in its county representative.
“I”ve got the experience necessary to handle the business end and deal with people. With over 20 years dealing with the public and different municipalities and small businesses, I”m definitely qualified versus what we have in office now,” he said.
Whitehurst, a Maben High School graduate, sees himself as flexible enough to deal with the concerns of all citizens, whether they live within or outside city limits. But he says several issues need to be addressed which effect all citizens, including road and bridge repairs. But the primary issue in this year”s election, he says, is controlling taxes and managing the county budget.
Whitehurst is a Republican.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.