Issues are issues no matter where you end up in Mississippi.
That’s one of the things I learned last week while moderating a mayoral debate in Indianola.
This Sunflower County town in the heart of the Mississippi Delta is battling the same problems that everyone is battle whether there or West Point or Natchez or Pascagoula.
Indianola needs better streets and schools, safer neighborhoods and more businesses.
The residents seem to be wanting a change of leadership, and they came to the Sunflower County Courthouse looking for answers from four candidates vying for the Democratic nomination.
Mayor Arthur Marble has been in office for the last eight years and is fighting to keep his office.
The challengers are a local businessman (Steve Rosenthal), a retired military officer (John Matthews) and a retired businessman (Clanton Beamon).
All of this came the same day that Alan Canning Company in Sunflower County announced that 140 jobs would be eliminated.
That was big news as the vast majority of the jobs are filled by folks from Indianola.
Sunflower County already has an unemployment rate of 11.8 percent, and the loss of another 140 jobs will be a tough pill to swallow.
Yet, none of the candidates really had an answer about what to do about unemployment.
“We have to try and recruit more business to town,” one candidate said.
“We need to bring businesses like a Red Lobster, something Greenville and Greenwood don’t have,” another said.
“We have to look for businesses that are willing to relocate to Indianola,” still another said.
Heard those answers before?
That could have been at the mayoral debate in most any small town in Mississippi.
But no one had a solution.
We need better schools, they all said.
Another said he will hold the school board accountable.
Still another said parents need to get more involved.
Yet, no specific answers.
When it came to the tax base for Indianola, none of the candidates new the exact number for sales tax numbers.
They all had a general idea, but facing uncertain times, no one had really done their homework.
They all want to work with other communities to bring more jobs to the area.
But there were no specifics.
Likely, there are two candidates that have a better understanding of the issues than the others, but, like so many communities in our great state, a specific plan needs to be in place.
Contact MBJ managing editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@ msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018
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