Meridian Star

May 5, 2013

What the candidates for Mayor have to say...

from staff reports
The Meridian Star


The following candidates are also seeking office in the city of Meridian municipal elections but did not participate:

• Mayoral candidate William Bond Compton, Republican

• Ward 2 City Council candidate Nathaniel Pringle Jr., Democrat

• Ward 3 City Council candidate Barbara Henson, Republican, no opposition

• Ward 4 City Council candidate Thomas Everett Hopson, Democrat   

Office seeking: Mayor of Meridian

Party: Republican

Name: Cheri Barry

    Occupation: Mayor of Meridian

    Education: Lamar High School, 1973; University of Mississippi, 1977

    A little about myself: When I am not at city hall I enjoy spending time with my family, especially my two grandsons, gardening, and visiting in the community.

    Why I am seeking office: I will be a dedicated full-time mayor. Over the past four years, we’ve worked to position Meridian for growth and success. We want to continue on this positive road of building a stronger Meridian.

    I see the full potential for Meridian. We’ve built the partnerships we need to help Meridian reach the next level. Today, Meridian is seen as a progressive city that can work with governments and businesses to get things done. We have strong relationships with our governor, lieutenant governor, national congressman and senators, as well as local board of supervisors and regional mayors. We will all work together to grow existing companies, attract new businesses, and create jobs.

    We will continue to commit the needed resources to fight crime, increase community policing and neighborhood watches.

    We will create Meridian’s Healthcare Industry Zone. This will provide Meridian with more opportunities for job growth in healthcare. We will also build workforce housing developments.

    We will continue to move forward with the Mississippi Arts & Entertainment Center and Youth Sports Complex.

    The most pressing issue facing Meridian and what I will do to address it: Public safety is the most pressing issue facing Meridian and our nation. I will maintain a zero tolerance for crime. Public safety is the reason government was created. We will continue to take the fight to criminals in Meridian.

    Why I feel I am most qualified to fill this position: Having served as mayor for the past four years, I am the only candidate with experience and knowledge of how city government works. For the past four years I have dedicated my time to improving Meridian — from strengthening the city’s financials and the infrastructure to fighting crime — and I have a proven successful track record.

    We have reshaped the budget to make it more sustainable. We no longer blindly fund programs simply because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”

    Office seeking: Mayor of Meridian

    Party: Democrat        

    Name: Rod Amos

    Occupation: Attorney    

    Education: High School Diploma: Meridian High School (1980), Meridian; B.A.: Accounting, Morehouse College (1984), Atlanta, Ga.; M.B.A.: Finance, Atlanta, University, Atlanta, Ga.; J.D., Mississippi College School of Law (2013), Jackson, Miss.

    A little about myself: I am a father of five beautiful and amazing daughters. I am the older of the two children of Ben Amos (retired, General Motors) and Dorothy Hopkins Amos (retired teacher). My younger brother is Patrick Amos a graduate of Meridian High (1984), Morehouse College (B.S., Marketing, Atlanta University (M.B.A., Marketing). My grandparents are Percy Hopkins and Lillian Stringfellow Hopkins (maternal), and Lewis and Maudell Amos (paternal). My hobbies include fishing, playing golf, watching sports, photography, gardening, writing poetry, dancing, singing, listening to various genres of music, traveling, reading articles on current events, and meeting new people. I am a life-long member of New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church, Savoy, Miss.

    Why I am seeking office: I am seeking Office of Mayor to help make my hometown Meridian, Miss., a better place to live, work and play. I believe that over the years the quality of life in the Queen City has continued to deteriorate, since the days of my youth growing up here. I have the education, training and experience to lead our city to become one of the premier cities in not only our state and nation, but, the world.

    The most pressing issue facing Meridian and what I will do to address it: In my opinion, one of the most pressing issues facing my hometown is the deterioration in the quality of life due to economic decline. Many of the issues plaguing our city are the results of this economic decline. In my opinion, if we work to improve the quality of life in Meridian, we will soon see an improvement in the quantity of life here.  

    I will address this issue by, comprehensively, improving the quality of our neighborhoods, schools, parks and recreation, police department and all city departments; I will work, closely, with local, state and federal elected officials to bring more and better paying jobs to our area. I want to inspire all of our youth to become the best person they can become, by including community groups, organizations and businesses through outreach, mentoring and employment.

    Why I feel I am most qualified to fill this position: As a result of, over thirty years of my combined education, training and experience in both the public and private sector, along with a love for my hometown, and my desire to see Meridian once again become the standard barer in our state. I want to take advantage of our tremendous resources, and our rich cultural heritage. I want to better market and promote our city’s assets.  With my passion, commitment and determination, I am ready, willing and able to turn around the decline in the quality of life in my hometown and help lead our city to greatness.

    Office seeking: Mayor of Meridian

    Party: Democrat

    Name: Percy Bland III

    Occupation: State Farm Agent

    Education: B.S. Chemistry, Xavier University of Louisiana; Masters of Public Health, University of Southern Mississippi.

    A little about myself: My wife Deidre and I are the proud parents of two great kids who attend MPSD. I am a State Farm Agent here in Meridian and I enjoy competing in all sports and spending time with my family.

    Why I am seeking office: I am seeking office because the citizens of Meridian deserve new leadership in the mayor’s office to resolve issues on crime, conflicts of interest, and equal opportunity to city contracts. We need a Mayor that understands that Meridian's people are our greatest resource.

    The position of mayor is not ceremonial. The mayor takes an active role and is the CEO of the city. In the past four years the city of Meridian has been plagued with problems in leadership: three police chiefs, two CAO's, unemployment nearing 15 percent, a staggering crime rate, and countless abandoned houses left standing.

    We have lost our public transit system, the Threefoot Building revitalization, and a number of city employees and businesses. I know with new leadership we can head down a new path. A path of truth and integrity focused on revitalization, innovation, and growth.

    Everything we need including our highways, airport runways, railroads, and labor force are in place. The key to success is our ability to unlock the full potential of these resources and make Meridian truly a premier city.

    The people, atmosphere, and economic possibilities of this city are why I wanted to raise my children in Meridian. As a small business owner myself, I understand the challenges facing small business, and I know what it takes to become efficient and achieve success through people.

    Only those cities with unity and the strongest, most efficient basic services such as public safety, public works, public schools, and quality recreation will realize economic growth, lower rates in crime, and better services offered to taxpayer

    The most pressing issue facing Meridian and what I will do to address it: The most pressing issue in Meridian is our crime rate. I plan to reduce crime by giving our police the tools and manpower needed to provide all of Meridian's citizens with adequate protection. We will focus on true community policing by implementing citizen outreach, case follow up, and public safety town hall meetings, while ensuring that the funds available for public safety are better allocated and expended. We will fight the crime epidemic together and restore the community's trust that has been lost after so many robberies, break ins, and shootings that have taken place on our city streets.

    Why I feel I am most qualified to fill this position: I have a plan to ensure safer streets, better schools and a stronger economy. My experience in business and public service have taught me that government can do more, from seniors to students, families to jobs to public safety. I’ve spent my career bringing people together and I’ll work to unify our city. I will ensure that the Office of Mayor is run with transparency, integrity, and our city services reach the taxpayers.

    Office seeking: Mayor of Meridian

    Party: Independent

Name: Wally Hudnall


    Occupation: Retired businessman

    Education: Graduate of Meridian High School; Attended the University of Tennessee.

    A little about myself: I have been married to Dianne Combest Hudnall for 26 years and have two daughters, son-in-laws and two grandsons. Some of my hobbies include hunting, fishing, camping and listening to music.

    The most pressing issue facing Meridian and what I will do to address it: I am dissatisfied with the increased crime rate, neglected infrastructures, inflated water bills, just to name a few, and I want to do something about this situation. Our city government changed 25 years ago and this form has opened the door for corruption.

    I would like to see it changed back where there is a city manager and a stronger city council. I believe these changes would make a more transparent government and give the citizens a better understanding of the business conducted.

    Why I feel I am most qualified to fill this position: Having owned multiple businesses, managing employees, finances and providing customer service for over 35 years, I feel, gives me the experience needed for the office of mayor.

    I believe that the city of Meridian is relying too much on borrowed funds and this has put us in a horrific financial mess. It is time to stop "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and dig our way out of the debt that has climbed in the past four years. I vow to my fellow citizens that I will work hard to make Meridian the best place to live in and lay down stepping-stones for a bright future.

    Office seeking: Mayor of Meridian

    Party: Independent

    Name: Walter Patton

    Occupation: Worked at Southwestern Bell and Harris 3M, business owner.

    Education: Meridian High School, Meridian Community electronics degree.

    Why I am seeking office: I want to help Meridian get back to living instead of existing. I have seen too much of Meridian’s potential to give up. As mayor, I will create a Meridian Coalition that will focus on education, public safety, and government services.”

    Why I feel I am the most qualified for the job: Walter’s years of involvement in community organizations, sports and recreation, and the Meridian Public Schools allow him to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the race for mayor of Meridian.

    A little bit about myself: Patton is a past president of the Lauderdale Chapter of the NAACP; Meridian area Navy League member; member of Board of Meridian Airport Authority; past board member of the American Red Cross; worked for Meridian’s Men for Change; volunteer for local and state various political campaigns, former sponsor of Young Democrats at Meridian Community College; volunteer for ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve); member of Parent for Public Schools; district wide vice president of Meridian Public School Parent Teacher Association (PTA); member of Meridian PTA; past president of the Kate Griffin Junior High School PTA; former coach and assistant coach of Crestwood Boys Baseball Team; former coach and board member of North Meridian Optimist’s Girls Softball Team; volunteer track coach at Meridian High School; volunteer band parent at Meridian High School during band competitions.