The Panolian readers will find the first "Election 2007" story, an interview with District 1 Supervisor James Birge, on the front page of today’s newspaper. More stories are coming over the spring and summer months, covering the five supervisors and other county races, as well as state races for state representatives and senate.
The five supervisors stories are being written for our readers in sequential order, meaning Mr. Birge drew the unenviable task of being the first of his colleagues to interview, since his colleagues can read his story and have an idea of the coming topics.
Before those interviews, incumbent supervisors are being asked to be prepared to describe achievements made since taking office.
An extensive list of improvements done to roads and bridges throughout the county is impressive, but such achievements may not carry the political weight they once carried.
With the hard surfacing and overlay of most of the county’s rural roads complete, there are other important actions taken by the Panola County Board of Supervisors. Some of those decisions have included selling Tri-Lakes Medical Center, altering the sheriff’s budget to allow more deputy hirings, and collaborating with the City of Batesville to build an animal shelter.
Maintaining the tax levy at its current rate, voting to purchase the Diebold voting machines and refusing to pass ordinances requiring cleanup of junk cars and trash on private property are also the result of actions or non-action handled by the county lawmakers in recent months and years.
Still another important decision that could impact the entire county and surrounding area was the vote to allow the creation of a county-wide utility district, an asset that could help lure a mega-sized industry to the mega-site near Como.
As indicated by the laundry list of votes above, road maintenance is only one part of a supervisor’s job description. In fact, as more gravel roads have been hard-surfaced in recent summers, supervisors may actually be losing their long-held leverage of promising road improvements for votes.
For those who have lived on gravel, make no mistake: hard-surface is wonderful. But once the paving is done, the political situation changes.
This election season, we believe Panola County voters will look beyond their community’s roads and bridges and evaluate our entire county’s needs and conditions, then judge the candidates and incumbents by their stated plans for Panola’s future.
If we’re right, supervisors would do well to pay attention.