By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – While candidates for Saltillo’s next mayor vary in political party and experience, all three say they agree the city needs to expand its tax base by attracting development.
Saltillo Police Chief and Democratic mayoral candidate Steve Brooks, 54, said Saltillo needs commercial growth.
“I want to move Saltillo in the right direction and that means bringing businesses and people back to Saltillo to bring tax revenue back,” he said. “I want to sit down with builders and see what the problem is and make some changes to make things right.”
Brooks has served as chief of the Saltillo Police Department for 11 of his 35 years in law enforcement and lived in the city since 1985.
“I know being on the board of E-911 and dealing with managing employees, budgeting and purchasing laws in government gives me experience I need,” he said.
Since the qualifying deadline, Democratic mayoral candidate Daniel Jennings has withdrawn his name, leaving Brooks as the only Democrat in the May 7 party primary.
Rex Smith, 54, a former Lee County land surveyor, faces Paul Turner, 55, a former alderman, in the Republican primary for mayor.
Smith said to move the city forward with new development, the residents must be united.
“My main goal is to get Saltillo to work together so that we’re working to move the town ahead with development and the general atmosphere of the town is united,” he said. “To have a united front where people are excited about Saltillo, the schools, the businesses coming in and the direction we’re headed. There seems to be a lot of division now.”
Smith has been a resident since he was 4 years old and cites his experience as a surveyor and serving a term as Lee County land surveyor as a qualification for the city’s top office.
“I work with people every day to work out problems and disputes,” he said. “I’ve been involved in development around Saltillo and Tupelo, and I understand what the town needs to grow. We want to build our tax base, and to do that we have to recruit good businesses and get people shopping opportunities in Saltillo instead of Tupelo.”
Turner said he wants to avoid tax increases by bringing more business to the city.
“I want to continue to improve our water quality, work with our police and fire departments to ensure safety of our citizens, work with schools to ensure safety of our children and work with downtown area businesses to keep the roots of Saltillo doing good.”
Turner has been a resident for over 17 years and has been a business owner or manager for 25 years, currently serving as the territory manager for Kellogg’s Company.
“That gaves me experience with accounting and working with the public on a daily basis,” he said. “I want to restore the citizens’ faith in the city government. They’ve lost faith and I want to show them that we will work with each and every concern.”
The winner of the Republican primary will face Brooks in the June 4 general election. Incumbent Mayor Bill Williams, a Republican, is not seeking re-election.