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franklin county times

Ask the candidates

By Staff
Editor's note: In an effort to help inform the public about issues in the Meridian mayor's race, The Meridian Star is posing a series of questions to the candidates. The questions are based on input from our readers, and the candidates' responses to the first two questions appear today. Some of the responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q. At this point, it seems inescapable that Meridian's contract with Waste Management will have to be re-negotiated resulting in higher garbage fees. In light of this, do you think the idea of doing the job with city workers should be reconsidered?
Charlie Haynes:
The mayor and council must make sure that any contractual agreements that are entered between the city and service companies will be driven by the needs of the CITIZENS, not the SERVICE PROVIDER. This has not happened in the case of Waste Management's current contract and we can easily see the consequences.
I believe we should continue to use a contract service, but I believe we must tailor all future agreements to the needs and expectations of the citizens.
William Hugh Johnson:
Meridian should never have contracted with Waste Management. Current garbage fees reflect the cost of collection, plus profit for Waste Management. Meridian should collect garbage charging only the actual cost of collection. Garbage collection by the city at cost would result in a considerable lowering of garbage bills.
Bill McBride:
No. Renegotiation will not necessarily create a rate increase. Waste Management, the city and the citizens must work together. We each have a responsibility Waste Management to abide by the contract, the city to enforce existing ordinances, and citizens to comply with the requirements as to size, separation and placement. Educate, Educate!
John Robert Smith:
If the council decided to renegotiate, fees would go up as we are already assessing maximum millage. Residents can adjust to the new rules but they should tell their council members if they would rather pay higher rates for more service. As to any new contract, I believe city workers should be considered, but that will not be possible until our current, four-year contract expires, unless Waste Management were found to be in default.
Q. Census 2000 showed a change in Meridian's racial make-up to 54 percent African-American. How does this affect your thinking about the city's future needs?
Charlie Haynes:
The future mayor of Meridian must be able to communicate with all men and women at all levels of this community whether that level involves race, creed, culture or economic concerns. As your mayor I will see that we are recognized throughout the state as the community that is known for racial harmony in leadership and progress.
William Hugh Johnson:
Meridian must face racial reality, and reflect that reality in the highest levels of municipal government. That is why I have pledged to make needed changes in the leadership of the Meridian Police Department, and appoint a qualified black as Meridian's new chief of police.
Bill McBride:
None whatsoever. Should the racial make-up of the city affect the city's future needs? No, all should be working together. We all need to have our most basic needs met. Better paying jobs, safe community, affordable housing, better education opportunities. None should be dependent upon one's race.
John Robert Smith:
Growing the community is about creating opportunities for the private sector to develop jobs. Growth and economic development are not race specific. Our citizens of all races support initiatives such as the mall and downtown development. Certainly, I will continue to ensure that all the city's boards and commissions reflect the community's diversity.

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