By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The challenger in this year’s mayoral race says the incumbent is being less than open about his business dealings, but the current mayor says the accusations are baseless.
Earlier this month Todd Wade promised to eschew any real estate development transactions in Oxford.
“Oxford’s current Mayor has a vast portfolio of student housing and business property, and Wade said that it is important to Oxford to remove any question of whether our Mayor is using his public office for personal gain,” the Wade campaign said in a press release.
George “Pat” Patterson said Wade’s statements are politically inspired.
“Mr. Wade simply doesn’t have a grasp of the crucial issues facing this town,” he said.
Patterson added weight to Wade’s contentions, however, when he told the Mississippi Business Journal that he only had one piece of commercial property.
Wade reiterated his call for avoiding property transactions.
“[W]e should hold ourselves to the highest standards in this area,” he said. “This can only be proven to the people by open and clear policies that remove all doubt.”
Patterson later told the Daily Journal he owns a convenience store individually but about a dozen rental units with business partner Jeff Busby. Patterson and Busby, who have been business partners since 1984, have their real estate under several partnership names, two of which include other individuals.
Wade’s campaign has also hinted conflict of interest possibilities from Patterson’s role in a local bank.
“I founded Oxford-University Bank,” Patterson said. “About a year into the mayor’s job, it just got too uncomfortable: On Tuesday I’m looking at (someone’s) bank statement, and on Wednesday he’s in City Hall about an issue. I sold it.”
Patterson characterizes Wade’s repeated pronouncements as innuendoes stopping just short of outright accusation.
“Mr. Wade continues to carp away about nothing. His statements are political malarkey,” Patterson said before launching into previous mayors’ business interests.
“Richard Howorth owned three bookstores, Pat Lamar was heavily involved in a medical practice, John Leslie owned rental property and a pharmacy, Dick Elliott owned a jewelry store and a funeral home,” he said. “Small-town mayors are involved in businesses.”