Fox 30 News hosted a mayoral debate last night. Republican William Compton, Democratic Percy Bland, and Independent Dustin Markham were asked questions submitted by viewers. Fox 30’s Randy Swann moderated the event. Here’s a quick recap of what took place:
“What specific steps will you take to support our city’s citizens in ensuring equity and access to jobs, housing, and education?” asked Swan.
“When I took office in 2013, our unemployment rate was in Meridian was at 10.8 percent. As of the end of April, according to the Mississippi Employment Security Commission, it’s at 4.8,” responded Bland.
Markham followed up with a rebuttal. “We need to look more at quality of jobs, not quantity. The number of quality jobs we have we’re losing.”
The candidates shared their views about property taxes and annexation and the sometimes, contentious relationship between the mayor and city council.
“He’s negative a lot of times, as you can see even in the first 30 minutes of this show. He’s like negative Nancy all the time,” said Bland in describing Markham.
Markham called Bland unprofessional and accused him of name-calling. Compton used that moment to stress his political affiliation.
“I am the only Republican candidate on the ballot. I am asking all republicans to vote republican. This is an example. We got two Democrats here fighting like dogs.”
Markham and Bland disagreed about the city’s paving process.
“We will use a scientific index to let us know what streets have the biggest issues and concerns and deal with those first,” said Bland.
“Citizens can tell us where pot holes are and what they have to dodge coming out of their driveway,” said Markham.
Compton doubted that Meridian is racially divided.
“I just do not see it. I’ve grown up with African Americans, played football… just don’t see it.”
In case you missed last night’s debate, you can view it on Fox 30’s website. We will also re-air the debate. The general election is June 6th so make sure you go out and vote.