Meridian Star

May 5, 2013

What the candidates for City Council Ward 5 have to say...

from staff reports
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Office seeking: Councilman Ward 5

    Party: Republican

    Name: Randy Hammon


    Occupation: Retired Electronics Process Engineer

    Education: Electronics Engineering Degree from Devry University.

    A little about myself: I've been married for 38 years to Sandra Cobler Hammon; two children and five grandchildren; been an active member of Gideons International for 23 years, and have worked with helps ministries on local levels. My church membership is with Central UMC where I am an active member. I enjoy physical activity and am a firm believer in a healthy lifestyle.

    Why I am seeking office: I am seeking office in an effort to correct and improve the processes which the city has been using for the past 25 years. The main part of that process involves changing outdated ordinances, and stopping the spending of taxpayer's money on "special projects" which do not benefit the entire city. Spending needs to be in the environment of the taxpayer. We cannot stabilize the city and make it safe without changing emphasis and the process that it runs on.

    The most pressing issue facing Meridian and what I will do to address it: Meridian's most pressing issue is failing to look at the root problems and changing in order to address these problems. I will ask the mayor and council to join forces to stabilize the city process by doing the following:

    1) Stop any new spending for a minimum of two years, to concentrate spending on core services and city wide cleanup.

    2) Reduce $7 million city overhead and the $5 million debt service by 5 percent to create a $600,000 starting block for city wide cleanup and stabilization of neighborhoods. Keep in mind that every city block generates $20,000 in taxes and we have lost a minimum of 600 to 800 square blocks at 50 percent. This translates to $6 million to $8 million in taxes each year for the last 10-20 years.

    3) Immediately revise five to ten of the main city ordinances dealing with bad behavior. Reinforce them along with a city curfew to ultimately minimize crime MPD is now dealing with. Ordinances also deal with school behavior, before and after.

    4) Revise and relax our codes for businesses. They need to be "friendlier" than other cities competing for them, so that prospective businesses will be interested in locating in Meridian. Clean up on a city wide level is also crucial to attract businesses, as they want a stable environment to invest in.

    5) Immediate meeting to form a working relationship with builders association, Habitat for Humanity, and Americorps, to initiate city revitalization. While other cities have initiated programs with blight ordinances such as Safe City Strike Force, Livable City Initiative, Proactive Code Enforcement, and Vacant Property Prevention, we have none.   

    Why I feel I am most qualified to fill this position: My work career as well as my life outside of my career has been about solving problems. I have maintained this method of problem solving and can see it is lacking  in our present administration. This makes me the most qualified to serve as Councilman of Ward 5.

    Office seeking: Councilman Ward 5

    Party: Republican

    Name:  Bobby R. Smith

    Occupation: Owner Smith’s Carpet Cleaning in Meridian for 50 years

    Education: Graduate of Cleveland High School in Kemper County

    A little about myself: Current Ward 5 Councilman having served in this office for 12 years. Married to Betty Blasi-Smith. Two sons and two stepdaughters with six grandchildren. Enjoy meeting with people and working on projects that will benefit this city

    Why I am seeking office: I have lived and raised my family in Meridian — it is my home — and I continue to be one of its greatest supporters. Meridian is a wonderfully diverse community that has much to offer to its people of all sectors. I want to make Meridian a place that others want to come to – to start a new business, take on a new job and to live and raise their families.

    I hope to be able to continue to work with my fellow council members, my neighbors in Ward 5 and others throughout the city in helping to keep Meridian safe and prosperous. A place we all want to call home; where we are comfortable working and raising our families. I will work diligently on efforts for the betterment of our city … From refurbishing our infrastructure – by paving worn out streets and demolishing unsightly abandoned properties—to assuring to the safety and security of its constituents – with updated and adequate personnel and equipment in the police and fire departments.  

    Why I feel I am most qualified to fill this position: I believe since having lived and owned a business in Meridian for over 50 years I personally know the struggles and the rewards  of  raising a family and growing a business in this city . Also having been honored and  fortunate enough  to have served the  people of Meridian I have the “first hand “ experience that it takes to help make the decisions that affect not only me and my family, but all the people living in Meridian.  

    Building on my past experiences gives me the benefit of knowing what “may or may not” be beneficial for this city’s growth and development. The relationships I have established over time  with local, state and national elected officials; businessmen and women and the people of Meridian will only help to facilitate the betterment of the city . I can use my past to help build the future of Meridian.

    Office seeking: Councilman Ward 5

    Party: Democrat

    Name: John C. Harris

    Occupation: Pastor and Law Enforcement Officer and Community Organizer.

    Education: 1976 MHS Grad. Attended MCC, University of Indianapolis and the Mississippi Law Enforcement Academy

    A little about myself: A proud father and grandfather. A community activist and ambassador for public service for our youth and seniors adults

    Why I am seeking office: To help make Meridian a city that works to bring a  better quality of life for everyone.

    The most pressing issue facing Meridian and what I will do to address it: Crime, lack of job opportunities and the need for consistent and adequate infrastructure needs.

    Why I feel I am most qualified to fill this position: I'm a former City Councilman. I have over 25 years of law enforcement expertise. A lifetime of public service and a product of this community.