By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – A radio station owner and the former owner of three different bars will challenge incumbent Pat Patterson for mayor of Oxford.
Jason T. Plunk filed qualifying papers on Friday to run in the May 7 Democratic primary. It will be Plunk’s first campaign for office. The winner will face Todd Wade, who is running as an independent, on June 4.
Plunk said he would provide a change of management style.
“The job of mayor over this last term has gotten too micromanaging,” he said. “Our department heads are great, and they don’t need micromanaging.”
Plunk said he also would streamline city government by eliminating some advisory boards.
“I don’t see the need to have a committee every time a decision needs to be made,” he said. “The Board of Aldermen is qualified to make decisions.” Instead, he said he would host frequent forums to get input from residents.
“There is a way to listen and show respect to those who may not share your opinion,” Plunk said. “A lot of problems we’re having don’t have a right or wrong, cut-and-dry answer.”
Plunk said if elected he would encourage more funding for the Police Department and marketing all of Oxford to tourists.
“It seemed everything tourism-wise was directed downtown,” he said. “We’ve got great restaurants and hotels that aren’t on the Square. I wouldn’t want to take away from downtown, but Oxford is so much more than the Square.”
One issue sure to rise in city elections is the extension of alcohol service. Plunk said he never opened his bars on Sunday, even when it became legal on rare occasions, but he is confident Sunday sales would add revenue without changing Oxford’s character. He also supports extending bar-closing hours from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. most nights, or at least the staggering of closing times.
“A very smart man told me that by closing all the bars at the same time, you push all the drunks out onto the street,” Plunk said. “When you cut it off early, you’ve got everybody taking the party back to the residential neighborhoods.”