By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
Larry Lee, a 58-year-old Grenada businessman, says he has seen the Mississippi Department of Transportation up close and does not like what he saw.
“When MDOT showed up at my door, I found out and got a rude awakening about what those boys do,” said Lee.
“They live by three principles down in Jackson – lie, cheat and steal.”
Lee, a candidate in the Jan. 11 special election for Northern District Transportation commissioner, said the agency gave him a bad deal about eight years ago when taking land where his business was located in order to expand Mississippi Highway 8. It cost him nearly $100,000, he said.
He is running for the vacant post to reform the eminent domain process and to put business practices in place at the agency to make it more efficient.
Lee is one of seven candidates vying to replace incumbent Northern District Commissioner Bill Minor, who died Nov. 1.
“I want to improve the business practices of the department and make sure it is fair to everyone,” Lee said. “I want to restore the trust people used to have in MDOT, and I want to protect the taxpayers’ dollars.”
Lee said he will work to improve the morale of the agency’s workers.
“There are a lot of good folks working for MDOT,” he said. “We need their ideas. They can help us save some money.”
If the agency is run more efficiently, Lee said, funds would be available to make more highway improvements. Then, more funds would be available to help meet individual communities’ transportation needs.
“I am going to develop a maintenance plan that works,” he said. “It is apparent that they do not have a maintenance plan that works. You can drive up and down the road and see that.”
He said he also would be different from past commissioners in that he would be “hands-on” and out on the construction sites overseeing the work.
Lee owns an auto trucks parts business in Grenada. He has been in business for 22 years. He used to also do body shop work. Lee restores classic cars.
In the past he has run unsuccessfully for county supervisor and justice court judge.