The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Four mayoral candidates ready for May primary

    When students return to campus this fall, they will be greeted not only with a new football era and the loss of Suttle Hall, but also a new mayoral administration in the city of Starkville.
    The positions of mayor and alderman will be selected at the primary election on May 5 and the general election June 2.
    Mayoral candidates spoke to a small crowd of students and city residents Monday night to offer their platforms and also answer questions about any municipal issues.
    The list of candidates is composed of the three Democrats Dan Camp, Matt Cox and Parker Wiseman and one Republican, Marnita Henderson. The race is sizing up to be a contest between two well-known city leaders and two new faces to Starkville government.
    Incumbent Mayor Dan Camp will again seek office on a platform of past achievements and wanting to build a new municipal complex.
    Camp said over the past four years, he led the city to pass a multi-million road-improvement bond and has also netted the city millions through insurance savings and fiscal restraint.
    Camp, known in Starkville for his blunt personality and willingness to step on toes, said he has no remorse for any actions taken during his administration.
    “When running for my first term in office, I wanted to develop our community into a sense of place and improve the quality of life here,” Camp said. “To do this, we needed additional sidewalks and bike paths, all of which we have achieved. I would like to take partial credit for it.”
    Pledging to help enhance the communities’ relationship with MSU, Camp said if re-elected, the implementation of a community calendar is much needed to prevent conflicting events.
    “I felt like it was a shame where we had Super Bulldog Weekend and the arts festival in the same weekend,” Camp said. “The more events you have in a community, the more the students will receive through sales tax revenue.”
    Camp, the largest property owner in the city, is often criticized for having too much personal interest in Starkville government. He said such accusations are baseless, and he has had to sacrifice his interests for the betterment of the community.
    “I don’t dictate anything in city government that has me or my interest at heart,” Camp said. “That is just a suggestion on their [his opponents] particular part. Many people ask, ‘Why have you not had the Cotton District roads improved?’ and I always say ‘Because we’re not interested in doing anything that makes it look like the mayor is getting any favoritism’.”
    Ward 5 Alderman Matt Cox enters the mayoral race after serving one term as alderman. Cox said if elected, he will differ from his predecessor when working with university and state-wide officials.
    “We have a university president in Dr. Keenum who said, ‘What is good for the city is good for the university’ and a brand new school superintendent who said the same thing,” Cox said. “It’s so important that we’re on the same page and not looking at our individual self-interest like this community has done for years.”
    While speaking Monday night, Cox said if elected, he wants to save the city money by implementing a recycling program.
    “The No. 1 project we need to achieve is a curbside recycling program for all city residents,” Cox said. “We spend over $100 a ton taking garbage to the landfill, and this program could save the city greatly.”
    Over the past four years, Cox said he has played an intricate part in making lives for MSU students better by helping to create the new dog park and approving the smoking ban in all public places.
    If elected, Cox said he wants to continue making the city more appealing to prospective students, faculty and businesses.
    “We’re in the process of renovating the Highway 182 corridor and what you want to do is use public investment to spur redevelopment, he said. “We also need to create a new city hall where we are not ashamed to entertain the leaders of Toyota U.S.A. or any other business who are interested in the city.”
    While Camp and Cox are two of Starkville’s most recognizable voices, Starkville-native Parker Wiseman said he hopes the electorate will want to hear something new. A former Student Association president, Wiseman graduated from MSU and attended the University of North Carolina to study local government.
    Wiseman is seeking his first city-elected position and said Starkville needs to change its economic focus.
    “In spite of the fact that Starkville has the most educated labor force in the state of Mississippi, Oktibbeha County, which is compromised largely by Starkville, has one of the highest poverty rates in the state,” Wiseman said. “We have to do a better job creating a band of middle-income industrial jobs in fields outside of education.”
    Wiseman said he wants to overhaul the city government and believes his vast educational background makes him the right candidate to lead the city.
    “What I am trying to sell people on is a completely revamped way of doing things and it starts with getting a vision for what we want this community to look like 20 years from now and breaking it down into measureable objectives,” Wiseman said. “We have a habit in this city to manage by crisis and we do things in the same mode and manner without taking stock in where we are or where we want to be going.”
    Wiseman concluded his platform by emphasizing how he sees himself as a candidate for change and will help bring Starkville to the 21st century of municipal government.
    “I don’t have the experience that Mayor Camp or Alderman Cox has, and if you like their product, then there is likely no argument I can make that says I am the best,” he said. “This town is more special to me than any place on Earth, and I am trying to sell this community a program that is better and represents a different way of doing things.”
    The lone Republican on the ballot, Marnita Henderson, enters the race following 38 years as a nurse. Like Wiseman, Henderson has never held public office but has attended almost every board of aldermen meeting in the past 10 years.
    Although she said she has seen good things come from the current administration, she feels the time is now for Starkville to elect someone with common sense and with a females’ prospective.
    Henderson, now retired, said she believes the city needs to do more to improve its relationship with MSU.
    “The university is our biggest industry, and they have so much expertise that we are not utilizing,” Henderson said. “I may not know how to do everything, but I am going to find the person who knows how to do it and bring them on board.”
    In addition to mending relations with MSU, Henderson said she wants to look at new ways to increase the city’s economy.
    “I am very interested in growing our tax base and not taxing the people here more,” Henderson said. “We have lost jobs within the city, and our people should not have to drive to Lowndes County for work. We need jobs for every education, and we in, the local level of government, should work to provide them.”

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    The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
    Four mayoral candidates ready for May primary