District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell is looking at plenty of competition in this year's county elections.
With the qualifying deadline set for Tuesday, five people have signed up to run in District 5, including Boswell.
Boswell, who has always run as a Democrat, will run as a Republican in this race. The four new candidates include a college student, Democrat Daniel Cook, a former county administrator, Republican Jimmie Moore, and two volunteer firefighters, Republicans Peter Russell and Kyle Rutledge.
Cook, who is 22 years old, is a Clarkdale graduate and a full-time student at Meridian Community College who is working toward his bachelor's degree in English with plans to transfer to the University of West Alabama. He says he'll become a part-time student if he's elected.
"I made the decision to run when I heard that the Open Meetings Act had been violated. I knew that someone needed to stand up to that type of activity." Cook said. "I don't want to talk bad about anybody, but I think (voters) just want somebody they know isn't going to waste money, somebody who's going to act right ... If I'm elected I promise to work tirelessly to do everything I can for the county."
Cook said he will approach the office of supervisor with integrity, a strong work ethic, and, "a calm and humble demeanor."
Moore, who works as the sales manager at Southern Waste, is a native of the Meridian area who moved back to his hometown permanently in 2007. He worked for 16 years at East Mississippi Community College as a business manager and for three years as the county administrator for Kemper County.
"I feel familiar with the day-to-day operation of the supervisors and what their responsibilities are," Moore said. "I feel I am qualified to serve the people of District 5, they would find my leadership to be professional, and I think I can do the job that needs to be done, not only for District 5, but for Lauderdale County in general."
Moore, who is married with two daughters, two grandchildren, and two step-grandchildren, said he wants to run the county like a business.
"It's a 50 million dollar business, and in order for it to function properly, it needs to be run that way," Moore said.
He also said he wants to be supervisor because it's a good way to help people. "The three years I served as county administrator in Kemper, I realized that local county government is grassroots government and is the best way to help the people of the community."
Russell also has experience working with county government, but in a different capacity. Russell, who is a Lauderdale County native, has worked with the county for 14 years in emergency services, starting at age 16 as an explorer for the Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency.
Russell has worked at Metro Ambulance, as a dispatcher, and is currently employed by the county's E-911 office. Russell is also a volunteer firefighter with the Meehan VFD and a volunteer member of LEMA.
When asked why he's running for supervisor, Russell said, "After I thought about it and talked with friends and family, I figured this would be the best year to get into the political arena. I want to see positive change for the county."
"My goal as supervisor is to see the county work as a whole to push that positive change we need," he added, "to listen to the residents of the county as a whole, and not just the people of District 5."
Russell has three children aged 17 months, 5, and 8.
Rutledge is also a volunteer firefighter, working with the Whynot VFD. His full-time employment is as a seventh grade science teacher, football coach, and bus driver for Southeast Middle School. He previously taught at Carver Middle School.
Rutledge, who graduated from Southeast High School, MCC and the Mississippi State University Meridian Branch, is involved with his church, Bethany Baptist Church, and volunteer's with a men's ministry at another church.
Rutledge's wife, Jody, is a teacher at Southeast Elementary.
More, better paying jobs will be a primary goal for Rutledge if he's elected, he said, but he also doesn't want to forget the smaller problems of his district, such as the limits on the disposal of large trash that isn't included in weekly pick-up.
When asked why he wants to be supervisor, Rutledge said, "Various people in the community had talked about wanting something different ... Mr. Boswell has done a good job taking care of the community, but I think it could be done with more respect and professionalism. I believe I work real well with others."
Boswell refused to comment for this story; he hung up the phone when called. Boswell has been supervisor for District 5 since the 1980s, with the exception of one term. He is the owner of Boswell Refrigeration.
For more on the 2011 county elections, including the other four supervisor races, look to upcoming editions of The Meridian Star.