Candidates: Jobs key issue in county
By By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Oct. 23, 2002
A longtime Meridian resident waited eight years to interview with United Parcel Service for a part-time job that paid more that just minimum wage.
But the man, who goes by his last name of Reed, didn't get the position. Today, he works at a shop in Meridian that sells used tires and quick oil changes.
Reed, who lives in Lauderdale County Supervisor District 4, said the solution is simple: The county needs strong leaders who can attract high-paying business and industry jobs.
Candidates running in the Nov. 5 general election to fill the vacant District 4 supervisors post agreed. They differ, however, in their approach.
Voters will choose a new supervisor to fill the post left vacant last summer by the death of Q.V. Sykes. The district includes parts of southwest Meridian and adjacent Lauderdale County.
Running for the job are Rickey Harris, a county patrolman; Melvin Wright, a retired hospital worker; John Nelson Jr., a private investigator; and Joe Norwood, a television cameraman.
All are Democrats.
Nelson said residents have told him their main concern is jobs and electing a strong leader who can work to attract industry and business to Lauderdale County.
Nelson said he is concerned about the amount of money the county pumps into the East Mississippi Business Development Corp. the chief economic development agency.
Nelson said it is up to the Meridian City Council and the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors to work with the EMBDC and not leave the responsibility of attracting industry to one entity.
Harris, Wright and Norwood, however, said they support the EMBDC's efforts. Norwood said he believes the organization is right on track.
Wright said he hasn't followed the EMBDC that closely. But he said he supports efforts to bring more jobs to the county so that educated kids don't have to leave the area for work.
Harris was more blunt.
Without better paying jobs, people are unable to pay their house note or maintain their property hence the large number of abandoned buildings in the district.
Besides that, he said, crime will increase if people aren't put to work.
For Reed, who said he's collected unemployment from time to time, a "lack of jobs is the only problem with this town."
Reed said every time a business comes to Meridian, it's either a bank, a fast-food restaurant or an auto parts store.
Here is a look the special election to fill the District 4 seat on the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors.
The district: Lauderdale County Supervisor District 4 includes parts of southwest Meridian and adjacent portions of Lauderdale County.
The election: Voters will choose a new supervisor in the Nov. 5 general election to fill the unexpired term of former Supervisor Q.V. Sykes.
The position: The District 4 supervisor post became vacant after the death of Sykes in July. The job pays $37,434 a year.