April 1, 2009
Tim Pratt -
STARKVILLE -- A half dozen candidates campaigning for seats on the Starkville Board of Aldermen came together for a forum Tuesday to discuss their plans for the city, with much of the talk centering on the need for smart growth and citywide infrastructure improvements.
The forum, set up by the Starkville Young Professionals and held at the Hilton Garden Inn on Highway 12, brought together candidates from Ward 2, Ward 5 and Ward 7.
Ward 2 incumbent, Alderman Rodney Lincoln said he wants to focus on the city''s street and drainage systems, but also help foster improvements to George M. Bryan Airport. A modern airport gives visitors a positive impression of the city, the Republican said.
"The airport is an important economic tool for Starkville," Lincoln said.
Lincoln will face Democrat Sandra Sistrunk in the general election on June 2. Sistrunk said she wants to focus on improving the city''s infrastructure and its neighborhoods, among other things.
"I think this election is going to reshape the face of Starkville, and I want to be a part of it," Sistrunk said.
In Ward 5, Republican candidate Mike Allen wants to promote entrepreneurism and to create a pro-business environment. He thinks the city should try to encourage technology companies to come to the area and retain some of the talent graduating every year from Mississippi State University.
"There''s no reason we couldn''t be the technology capital of the state, if not the Southeast," Allen said.
Allen will face either Jeremiah Dumas or Scott Maynard on June 2. Dumas and Maynard will square off in the Democratic primary on May 5.
Maynard wants to focus on developing a broad economic base and bringing a large manufacturing operation to Starkville. He also wants to get the city to work together with the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, Mississippi State University and Oktibbeha County.
"I don''t think there''s ever been a more exciting time to live in Starkville," Maynard said.
Dumas is a strong advocate of comprehensive planning and a high quality of life among city residents. He helped found the Starkville Community Market and is an assistant research professor of landscape architecture at MSU, with a focus on community, urban and transportation planning processes.
He said he wants to devote his energies to updating the city''s comprehensive plan.
"It''s key we get that in place so we can grow and continue to develop in the way that we should," Dumas said of the comprehensive plan.
Ward 7 Alderwoman Janette Self is up for re-election and will face challenger Henry Vaughn in the Democratic primary. No Republicans entered the race in Ward 7.
Self has been a huge proponent of road improvements during her time on the board and vowed to continue to do so if elected again.
Self also stressed the need for industry in the area that would benefit all members of the city''s workforce, not just high-income and low-income residents.
"We need some industry to come in here that pays more than just minimum wage," Self said.
Vaughn was unable to attend. Ward 5 candidate Virgil Bolin also was not in attendance.
The Starkville Young Professionals will hold its third and final candidates'' forum on April 14 at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn. The forum will feature candidates in the race for mayor.
The first forum was held March 10 and featured Board of Aldermen candidates from Ward 1, Ward 3 and Ward 4.