By Terri Ferguson Smith / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
From the state of Meridian's economy to schools, crime, streets and sewers, candidates for mayor answered a range of questions Monday night at a political forum.
Hosted by the Coalition of Community Leaders, seven of the eight candidates for mayor of Meridian shared their political platforms with the public.
Economic development was a common theme as candidates talked about how they would work to support existing businesses and recruit new businesses to Meridian. The issues of education and crime played a part in discussing the business climate, as most candidates agreed that to have a healthy economy, there must be safe streets and strong schools.
Candidates were asked what they, in addition to working with EMBDC, would do for economic development.
Cheri Barry - "My plan is to work with the state, with our county, with our federal government in an effort to bring more jobs and better paying jobs to Meridian. I will be working with our health care businesses to bring better jobs. I will be working with arts and entertainment individuals to brings more venues for our youth and more jobs also.
Percy Bland - "First of all you have to know how to create business and industry and create a culture and environment for those things. One of the main things is tax incentives for businesses that are already here in Meridian."
Wally Hudnall - "As a retired business owner, I know how hard it is to keep up with the taxes and the price increases. I will bend over backwards to help, to give any incentive we can to expand their operations in Meridian."
Randle Jennings - "I'd like to sit down with the EMBDC board and find out exactly what we can do to enhance not only just the incentives that we give companies as a reason to come here, but the other side of that is to really produce a work force."
Doug Nichols - "I am sure that EMBDC would be glad to work with any business they can get in here to put our youth to work and put more money in our economy to help heal our city."
Walter Patton - "You are not going to get any company to come to Meridian if the educational level is not where it needs to be."
Rod Amos - "I look at the city of Meridian as a business. We have to do some things to market ourselves. Yes they (EMBDC) are in charge of bringing jobs into our area, but we the people of this community are also the ambassadors of our city."
Mayoral candidate William Compton Jr. did not participate in the forum.
A similar forum will be held for city council candidates on Thursday night at 6:30 at the same location: the Conner Young building at 412 26th Avenue. The public is invited to attend.