Forum features Ward 4, 5, and 7 candidates
A forum was held at the Greensboro Center on Wednesday April 19 for candidates for the Board of Aldermen in Wards 4, 5, and 7.
Candidates present included Ward 4 Candidates, Republican W.B. (Pete) Ledlow, Jr. and Democratic incumbent Jason B. Walker, Ward 5 candidates Democrat Kayla M. Gilmore and Democrat Patrick Miller, and Ward 7 candidate Democratic incumbent Henry N. Vaughn, Sr.
Ward 7 Republican candidate Roben W. Dawkins could not attend due to business.
Here are some of the topics discussed.
New comprehensive plan:
Candidates expressed that putting the new comprehensive plan to good use would mean to improve outdated zoning ordinances.
Miller said revising zoning plans and ordinances would help the city, because the last time the ordinances were revised were in the 1990s.
Vaughn said, with the new rezoning plans, direction and expansion needs to be taken into account, specifying that it must be considered whether Starkville plans to expand to the east or to the west.
One idea brought up was "Rails and Trails," a plan that would allow the city to add alongside or convert unused railroads into a trail that may be used for biking and walking. Candidates Miller, Vaughn, and Walker expressed approval of the notion. Gilmore and Ledlow both said that, while they believe it to be a good idea, they believe prioritizing funds would be a better move.
This is just one of many improvements that were presented before the adoption of Starkville's new Comprehensive Plan on Dec. 20. A main focus of Miller and Walker was walkability.
When it comes to Mississippi State University, all candidates expressed a need for unity between the university and the city. Most gave examples of how the city and the school are keeping good ties. Some agreed, while also had things to add.
Miller expressed that the relationship between Starkville and MSU is important, and suggested Starkville work more to provide free community events that will push the public to be more involved with MSU and vice versa.
Ledlow agreed with Miller, saying Starkville should keep doors open to MSU, but that MSU should also invite Starkville to be more involved in its events, as well.
Vaughn stressed the importance of regular meetings with MSU and MSU officials.
When it came to the public schools in Starkville, many answers were positive.
Miller mentioned how the next Board would have to appoint an effective school board member. He emphasized promoting our schools and having public officials who are engaged in the public schools. Ledlow said he wanted to see an increase in industrial arts, using the example of a mechanics class that used to be available.
The needs of individual wards:
Ledlow said an increase in security was important in Ward 4, and that increasing patrols might help to increase the security.
Walker said infrastructure should be improved in Ward 4, including water, sewer, lighting, and improvements, and mentioned the new road that will run from Highway 182 to College View Drive and up to University Drive.
Kayla Gilmore mentioned the existence of major roads in Ward 5 and discussed improving roads, adding more sidewalks, staying ahead of population growth, and preserving the integrity of neighborhoods.
Miller said there have been many quick fixes to infrastructure, but little longterm fixes for problems. He stressed investing in longterm fixes for problems.
Vaughan mentioned J.L. King Park in Ward 7 and how it has potential for more improvements to bring families to that part of the city. He also expressed the need for overlaying on Garrard Road, as well as a need to prioritize funds.
The Starkville Daily News streamed the forum via Facebook Live. It can still be viewed on the SDN Facebook page.