By Terri Ferguson Smith / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
Another candidate is seeking the office of mayor of Meridian. Two-time Republican candidate for mayor, Wally Hudnall is running this time as an independent.
Hudnall filed qualifying papers Monday at City Hall. Independent candidates must obtain the signatures of at least 50 voters registered in the city of Meridian. City officials must first verify the signatures before Hudnall is added to the list of candidates.
"I'm very concerned about our crime rate in the city," Hudnall said Tuesday as he announced his candidacy at Dumont Plaza. "I'm also concerned about our infrastructure — our streets, our sewer system and our high water bills. I intend on doing something about that."
A graduate of Meridian High School, Hudnall is retired from the grocery business. He owned Hudnall Food Store in Meridian and Piggly Wiggly in Collinsville.
In an interview earlier this week with The Meridian Star, Hudnall said he became interested in entering local politics in the mid 1990s when he became frustrated with the city's lack of funding for a paving project in front of his grocery store on 10th Avenue. Funds had been allocated for the project but they were moved to fund a different transportation project, he said.
"It hurt my business because it took 10 more years to get 10th Avenue paved," Hudnall said.
Now there are different issues to address, Hudnall said, including problems in the Meridian Police Department. He said he supported former chief, James Reed. At a recent meeting about the chief's unexpected resignation, Hudnall said if elected, he would be happy to rehire Reed, if Reed expressed an interest in the job. Hudnall said there is a lot of dissension in the police department.
"Meridian used to have one of the best police departments," Hudnall said. "I intend on making it the best and making Meridian the best and safest city in Mississippi to live in."
He pledged to work on infrastructure and roads in Meridian also.
"We used to have our own asphalt plant. Now we have to buy asphalt from APAC when we could easily own our own and maybe sell asphalt to the county, if they need it. It would save the taxpayers a little money."
Hudnall said he wants to help the city grow and help businesses maintain what they have.
"I want to be business friendly," he said. "If there is any way the city of Meridian can help them, I will bend over backwards to help them."
He also wants to reduce the city's debt.
"We have already reached our maximum capacity on bond issues," Hudnall said. "We need to pay it down."
As to why he is running as an independent candidate this time, Hudnall said it's all about choice.
"I'll go to the general election. I'll give the citizens of Meridian three choices instead of two," he said.
Hudnall and his wife Dianne have two daughters and two grandsons.
Other candidates for mayor include the incumbent, Cheri Barry, a Republican; William Bond Compton Jr., also a Republican; Percy Bland and Rod Amos, both Democrats.
Independent candidates such as Hudnall are not in party primaries; they go straight to the general election, which will be held on June 4.