TUPELO – The city’s two mayoral candidates differed in style, but not necessarily opinion, during their first debate since winning their primary elections last week.
Democrat Doyce Deas and Republican Jack Reed Jr. met Monday at the Rotary Club of Tupelo, where they took turns answering eight previously selected questions from Rotary members.
WTVA personality Terry Smith served as moderator and asked the questions.
The candidates then took two more from the audience of roughly 100 people, who attended the event at the Summit Center.
Reed described himself as the “fresh-start” candidate who would renew the Tupelo Spirit and instill a sense of unity and cooperation within City Hall. He spoke admirably of his opponent and vowed to continue running a “100 percent positive campaign.”
Deas, on the other hand, painted herself as the “experienced leader” who would tackle Tupelo’s tough issues while building consensus among municipal workers and residents. She ignored her opponent’s compliments and challenged him – for the third time – to a series of meetings or debates throughout the city.
Reed didn’t respond to the challenge, but noted that the two candidates already had appeared together on numerous occasions.
On the issues raised in the questions: Both candidates said they will support area businesses and public education; both promised to communicate and cooperate with the City Council and Lee County Board of Supervisors; both favor Tupelo’s annexation bid; and both hope to continue the city’s Major Thoroughfare Program. Both also want to see more sidewalks and green spaces here.
But while Reed spoke mostly in general terms about his plans for City Hall, Deas delved into more specific detail.
She would change the state law to beef up code enforcement, hire a city liaison to help small businesses, work to repeal the inventory tax, meet weekly with the Lee County Board of Supervisors and hold regular sessions with individual City Council members.
She also wants city and county officials to tour places with metro-governments and consider adopting a similar system in Tupelo-Lee County.
Reed’s ideas included creating a business-friendly culture by saying “yes” more at City Hall, acting as the public school system’s “biggest cheerleader,” bringing back the Tupelo Spirit and encouraging city leaders to work together.
He also wants to boost communication between the city and the Lee County Board of Supervisors, and he’d like to get Tupelo’s various volunteer-citizen committees together to share ideas and forge cooperative long-range plans.
Each candidate had two minutes to form their responses. Reed sometimes interjected a joke or personal story into his answers, but Deas stayed serious and on task.
She also seemed less buoyant than Reed about the city’s situation but made no apologies for that.
“I don’t think it’s negative to talk about the challenges we have and to not sweep them under the rug,” Deas told the crowd during her closing statements. “That’s not being negative; that’s being honest.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal