Two candidates have qualified to challenge longtime incumbent Harry Sanders in the Lowndes County District 1 supervisor’s race.
Phillip Atkins has submitted paperwork with the circuit clerk’s office to run as an independent, while Pauline Redmond will face Sanders in a Republican primary.
Atkins, 58, is a lifelong Lowndes County resident and is a self-employed general contractor. He is a Lowndes County Selective Services Committee member and a member of the 12-Man Supper Club in both Columbus and Caledonia.
Atkins ran as a Republican for the District 1 supervisor’s slot in 2011. Sanders defeated him in a primary. This time, Atkins said he chose to run as an independent to increase his visibility, and his chances of winning, because it guarantees he will appear on the November general election ballot.
“I had a lot of people, who are my friends, who didn’t vote in the primary,” Atkins said. “After the (general) election, they told me they didn’t see my name on the ballot.”
He said vocational training and increased government accountability should be priorities for supervisors during the next term.
Redmond, 56, said she writes articles for emergency management publications. She said she also gives free lectures on emergency services issues to community organizations. Previously, she said she volunteered for eight years as disaster management coordinator for the Tenn-Tom Red Cross.
She said she worked as a paramedic, and with emergency services and E911, in Charleston, South Carolina, before moving to Columbus in 2002.
Infrastructure and accountability will headline Redmond’s campaign, as she said the county needs to better prepare for growth. Redmond said that goes beyond paving roads and includes issues like zoning and improving technology. She added the supervisors also need to rein in and hold accountable peripheral boards and committees — using the zoning board as a specific example.
“These boards are making decisions that are affecting the county budget, and nobody knows what they are doing,” Redmond said.
A four-term supervisor, 70-year-old Sanders is in his third term as board president. He retired in 1995 after serving 30 years as president of Sanders Oil Company.
Sanders said the county is working diligently to improve infrastructure and partnering with the Golden Triangle Development LINK to bring in new industry. He said supervisors will also serve as leaders on a E911 facility expansion project, as well as plans to build a multi-purpose agriculture building at the county’s industrial park for 4-H and the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
As for having two opponents, Sanders chalked it up to democracy working like it should.
“The more, the merrier is what I say,” Sanders said. “This is a free country. Anybody can run.”
Sanders is the third incumbent supervisor to gain an opponent in 2015. Patrick “P.J.” Hughes, 4-County Electric systems analyst, has already qualified to face two-term Republican District 3 Supervisor John Holliman in a primary. Columbus Ward 4 Councilman Marty Turner has also qualified to face eight-term incumbent Leroy Brooks in a Democratic primary for District 5 supervisor. The two other incumbents, District 2’s Bill Brigham and District 4’s Jeff Smith, have qualified and are so far unopposed.
Lowndes County supervisors each make $45,700 annually.
In state races, District 16 Attorney Forrest Allgood, a Democrat, has not yet qualified for re-election but told The Dispatch on Thursday he would before the Feb. 27 deadline. No other candidates have qualified to run for that position.
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.