District 2 Election
By Billy Davis
A Sardis radio station owner, after hearing from concerned citizens, has suggested a public forum among the District 2 supervisor candidates.
The Panolian, after hearing from station owner Ederic Kerney, plans to help conduct the event.
The District 2 forum is set for Tuesday, October 27 at Panola Playhouse on Main Street in Sardis.
The time has not been set.
Incumbent supervisor Vernice Avant and four challengers are seeking the District 2 seat.
Also running are Clyde Sellers and Paul Henderson of Crenshaw, Tim Holliday of Sardis, and William Pride of Batesville.
District 2 voters will go the polls November 3 to vote in the special election.
“I’ve talked to people who are asking, ‘Who is the best candidate?’ A lot of people are asking that question,” said Kerney, a minister and church pastor.
He is CEO of radio station KBUD 102.1 FM, a Black Gospel station located on East Lee Street.
Kerney presented his idea to Panolian editor Rupert Howell last week and Howell agreed to help sponsor the event.
“We have an obligation to afford the electorate the opportunity to hear the words of each candidate on issues that voters deem most important,” said Howell.
The Panolian has overseen candidate forums in the past, most recently in 2005 prior to municipal elections in Batesville.
The event is technically not a debate, since candidates do not speak to each other over issues.
Sardis newspaper The Southern Reporter will also participate in the forum. Kerney said he has extended an invitation to WBLE 100.5, the Batesville FM radio station.
On Monday, Panola Playhouse executive director Vic Henson said the non-profit community theater would host the forum.
The District 2 candidates can expect to field questions from Kerney and from The Panolian and The Southern Reporter.
Questions from the audience will be submitted before the debate to be read by the panel.
Kerney said the forum will not be broadcast on radio but both newspapers will cover the event for their readers.
Mrs. Avant, of Longtown, has held the seat since August 2008, when she was appointed to fill the term of her late husband, Robert.
Mr. Avant had built a formidable political base that influenced mayors, aldermen, county officials, and the North Panola school board. He was serving as board president when he passed away.
The widowed supervisor had kept a low profile through most of her term until she refused to reappoint a commissioner to the Longtown Volunteer Fire Department.
That decision highlighted an ongoing dispute between Avant and the fire department, which until then had been known mostly by the Longtown community.
The rift also introduced a political issue into the supervisors’ race, especially when Avant’s fellow supervisors reappointed the commissioner, Herman Bradley, over her objection.
Mrs. Avant and other supervisors are currently charged with appointing an interim sheriff following the death of Hugh “Shot” Bright.
When the present year began, Mrs. Avant said priorities for the year should be cleaning up roadside garbage, funding public transportation for the poor and elderly, and improving public education.
The county’s sheriff’s department uses inmate labor to pick up roadside trash, but the county does not provide public transportation. Supervisors are not involved in the county’s public school systems.
Because of the special election, District 2 candidates will be listed on the electronic ballot with a party affiliation.
The election will advance to a runoff if the candidates fail to win at least 50 percent of the vote.