In Batesville’s great swath of eastern city limits known as Ward 1, Keating Grove resident Ameen Adieh knows very little about a city election.
To his credit, he’s the first to admit it.
"Hasn’t the election happened yet?" Adieh, 34, asks outside the two-story home he shares with wife Mimi and their three children.
No, it hasn’t. But it will.
In Ward 1, the candidates for alderman are Democrat incumbent Bill Dugger and his Republican challenger, Danny Jones.
Dugger, a two-term alderman, is breezing through the May 3 Democrat primary without an opponent.
Jones didn’t draw a primary opponent either, meaning the two candidates will face off about a month later in the June 7 general election.
Because its population density is small and must equal that of other wards, Batesville’s Ward 1 stretches across roughly half of the city limits.
Ward 1 territory stretches south past Pine Lodge Road, east to the city limits, and north past the I-55/Hwy. 35 interchange.
Farther into the city, the ward splits areas of Keating Road with Ward 4 and part of Dogwood Hills with Ward 3. It also encompasses older sections of the city, including Harmon Circle and the Pollard St. area, and the north side of Baker St. and Atwell.
Dugger, who is retired from Tennessee Gas, lives at 422 College St.
Jones works as a salesman for Dunlap and Kyle in Batesville. He lives at 106 Hickory Lane.
Neither candidate has officially hit the campaign trail, and neither predicts a mud-slinging campaign once they start courting Ward 1 votes.
"I’ve never heard anything bad about Bill, and I can’t see where he’s done anything wrong that I would jump up and down about," said Jones.
Dugger voiced similar sentiments about Jones.
According to Jones, Dugger and his city colleagues voted on difficult issues in recent years. Too often, he said, candidates are too quick to criticize the decisions of the incumbents.
"I don’t think I would have voted for the civic center, but you don’t know what you would do until you’re in that position," Jones, 55, said.
Jones said his biggest factor for jumping into the Ward 1 race is the apparent change coming to Batesville.
"There’s a tremendous amount of change: a new police chief, new city clerk, new mayor and new alderman-at-large," Jones said. "With all of that change coming, it seemed like now was a good time to get involved."
Regarding the search for a new police chief, Jones said the replacement for Chief Roger Vanlandingham could come within the department, namely Deputy Chief Gerald Legge or Major Tony Jones.
"They have the respect of the officers, but they might be close to retirement and don’t want it," Jones said.
Dugger said he, too, is excited about the change coming soon to Batesville city government.
"It’s a new era," Dugger said, "and I’m excited about all the possibilities."
Dugger, 62, is running to keep the alderman’s seat formerly occupied by his cousin, the late Bobby Carlisle.
Carlisle chose not to seek re-election in 1997 due to health problems, and Dugger ran for the open seat and won it. It was his first time to run.
"For a while I was thinking about running for office, and Bobby said, ‘You ought to run.’ But I waited until he stepped down," Dugger said. "I would never have run against Bobby. He was the best man for the job."
Once Dugger hits the campaign trial, he expects to hear voters talk about the future of Tri-Lakes Medical Center, the success and operation of the Batesville Civic Center, and the overlaying of city streets.
Dugger said he expects to field questions about the amount of city funds spent for new roads at and around Wal-Mart and Tri-Lakes.
His answer? Grant monies paid for most of those projects.
Jones has his own opinion about the city’s use of grant monies.
"If the funds are available, I agree we should try to get our fair share," Jones said. "But a city should make its plans without depending on grants."
Regarding the civic center, Dugger hopes the public will support the family-friendly events at the BCC over similar events in Memphis and Tunica.
Regarding the money going into the BCC’s operation, Dugger said it should be declared a success if it at least breaks even.
"In most other places those types of facilities are not the type of thing you make money on," Dugger said.
"The civic center’s got to make it," Jones said. "It’s too late to ask whether it should have been built. It’s there now, and it needs to succeed."