By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The May 7 primary election will narrow the field of five candidates who believe they are the best choice for Booneville’s leadership as mayor.
The Democratic primary includes two challengers to incumbent Mayor Joe Eaton – chiropractor Derrick Blythe and insurance agent Jon Hill.
On the Republican ticket are residential contractor Ron Kirk and Lin Floyd, special assistant to the secretary/legislative director for the Mississippi Secretary of State.
Candidates named many of the same priorities they will focus on if elected mayor: job creation; attracting new industry; economic development; revitalizing downtown Booneville; getting the most out of outstanding public schools and Northeast Mississippi Community College; long-term vision for a prosperous future for Booneville.
What differs is the background each candidate offers, both professionally and in public service.
Eaton, 56, has his current track record as a first-term mayor, as well as two terms previously served as an alderman, three years as an industrial supervisor and 24 years as a Booneville business owner.
“During the last four years there have been 45 new businesses established, creating approximately 300 jobs,” Eaton said. “We have worked hard to create a positive economic environment that is attractive to new business investment.”
Blythe, 44, also touts his business experience as owner of Booneville Chiropractic Clinic. He would make growing the city’s industrial base a priority.
“I believe with business-minded leadership Booneville can grow and attract new industries and businesses to fill our empty buildings,” Blythe said.
Hill, 50, a licensed insurance agent who retired from the U.S. Postal Service after 27 years, feels increasing the city’s tax base and solving infrastructure problems are key.
“We must work with county, state and federal agencies in order to secure funding for streets, lighting and sewer/drainage, and update our fire and police equipment,” Hill said.
Floyd, 35, wants to use his political relationships to help improve the city.
“If elected, I will assemble a working group consisting of local business, education and political leaders, along with representatives from state government and the Mississippi Development Authority, to identify our marketable assets and how to promote them,” Floyd said.
Kirk worked for more than two decades as a residential contractor and ran for mayor four years ago. He continues to emphasize attracting jobs and cutting government spending.
“We have to cut spending and not spend more than we have, or in the next decade we will see higher water bills, higher taxes and our city employees will probably still be waiting for a pay raise,” Kirk said.
If none of the three Democratic candidates for mayor wins 50 percent plus one vote in the primary, a runoff election will be May 21 to decide the general election candidate.
The Republican candidate for mayor will be nominated on May 7 to face the Democratic candidate in the June 4 general election.