Notes from the Mayor Oct. 10

By MAYOR EDDIE FULTON,

Voting for state, county, and school board candidates is just around the corner, and recent low voter turnout should be a serious concern for all of us. I am impressed with the quality of candidates we have both locally and on the state level.  I am delighted to see the number of business owners or those that have worked in agriculture or a business running for office. Jeff Tate, our elected District 33 Senator is very talented, and is a successful business owner that will make a difference in Jackson. Bubby Johnson, Tate’s former opponent, is one of the most talented people that could help solve educational and financial issues.  I am hopeful he will once again run for a local or state office.

Clarke County is divided into five county districts, with three of those being partially located in the city of Quitman. Those districts are One, Four, and Five. Two of the Supervisor races affect Quitman as both District 4 Paul Mosley and District 5 Mickey Long have opponents.  As Mayor of Quitman, I support both candidate’s re-election. Paul has extensive contacts in Mississippi and the Federal government, and Mickey understands our economic needs and has long supported our city and schools. Both have done an excellent job!

On the state level we have excellent candidates across party lines. Many Supervisors and Mayors are concerned with unfunded mandates that seem to continue unabated. All elected officials know we need support with health care, including mental health, education, including teacher pay, and infrastructure. Several states around us have added coverage for Medicaid recipients without increasing taxes. Our state would be wise to review how these states accomplished expanding coverage without increasing taxes. Hospitals and Mental Health facilities desperately need additional funds.

Teacher pay is something that all candidates say should be raised, but once elections are over such plans never seem to materialize. Look at teacher retirement and that of our elected legislative personnel.  A teacher working for 25 years averaging $40,000 in the last four years of service will retire with approximately half that in retirement income. Any one in the Legislative body making $40,000 for 25 years’ service will receive $20,000 plus $10,000 more or $30,000 under the Supplemental Legislative Retirement Plan (SLRP). The other difference is a teacher is now paying 9.0% of their salary for retirement and the Legislative body is paying 3.0%, and they receive the extra SLRP money. Compare the required time necessary to teach or legislate and draw your own conclusion.  Our teachers do a wonderful job and will do so whatever our legislative body comes up with, but the number of students electing to go into teaching is declining. Wonder why?

Infrastructure is critical for our future, whether it is roads, bridges, or sewer and water projects. Gasoline taxes are the fairest way to fund such programs, and with only two states with lower gas taxes than us (Alaska and Missouri) the question is can we improve our infrastructure without raising gas taxes? Every state around us has raised gas taxes, and some have even added a temporary sales tax to meet infrastructure needs. County and Municipal elected officials are concerned that monies will not be available to maintain our local roads, bridges, and infrastructure.  The good news is our candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor will be debating these issues. All of us need to watch these debates and decide who is going to solve the challenges facing us locally and in our state. Voter turnout is the key and is our responsibility!

Saturday was the official Grand Opening for Chefski’s Restaurant on Main Street. Although many of us have already enjoyed a wonderful meal there they had never had the official ribbon cutting. Those that came to the event were rewarded with samples of appetizers Chefski’s is now famous for. This restaurant has a wonderful atmosphere with outstanding cuisine. I am excited and thrilled with this new restaurant.