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|Candidates take the stage|
Winnsboro voters got a second opportunity to hear plans for moving the city forward as mayoral candidates took the stage Monday night at a town hall meeting at at the Princess Theatre.
The more than two-hour event, broadcasted live on KMAR 95.9 FM radio, was sponsored by candidate Ken Hill. The men he is running against are Leroy Scott, Deacue Fields and Jackie Johnson.
Each candidate was given 10 minutes to tell about themselves. They also had the opportunity to answer questions that audience members had written before the forum. More than 100 people turned out for the event.
The first candidate forum was held at the King Jesus Worship Center on March 1. The primary election for mayor of Winnsboro is March 27.
Candidates spoke in reverse from the order they drew in the last forum, with Leroy Scott given the opportunity to address about 100 gathered at the theatre and the radio audience.
"One reason I am here is because I love this town. I love these people. I love Winnsboro. I love Franklin Parish. I love America," Scott said. "I would like for you to give the chance to exercise some of that love."
Scott said one of his primary initiatives as mayor would be to network with advisory committees to help overcome city problems like lack of job opportunities.
Deacue fields spoke next and said he would help bring people together to move the city, using his skill to bring groups of people together.
"For the city of Winnsboro, in order to for progress to take place, we must realize that no man is an island," Fields said. "We must work together. I believe we can work together -it can be done."
Jackie Johnson said he would like to create a better future in Winnsboro for his five children and 13 grandchildren.
"We love (Winnsboro) because it loves us back. We love it because God said we should love our neighbor. I have serves on the Franklin Parish Police Jury for 22 years. I love public service. I love serving you and I would love the opportunity to serve you as mayor," he told the crowd.
Like Scott, Johnson said he would like to further involve community organizations in governing Winnsboro.
Ken Hill, citing his 34 years as a businessman who has held 82 occupational licenses in Winnsboro, said the the city has been run like "a well oiled machine" for years by successful businessmen and that shouldn't change.
"I am here because I want to serve this community, I don't need a job. I've got plenty of them and I have some great employees, so I don't always have to be there," Hill said.
Questions from voters included concerns about job creation, higher graduation rates, improving cooperation among businesses, providing recreational activities for young people, reducing the mayor's salary and the renaming of streets.
Candidates, responding to questions, agreed to continue or expand beautification projects and push for tougher leash law enforcement.
They also said jobs held by current town employees would be safe once they took office.
There was much variation over how each candidate would bring jobs and help the town prosper and grow -a hot topic for Winnsboro residents.
Scott, who has also served on the Franklin Parish Police Jury for 16 years said that he would form an advisory committee compromised of business leaders, merchants and community leaders that would meet quarterly to share ideas, give resources, and network with schools, police jury, and other organizations to develop ways to help businesses and improve our the community.
Fields said the city must make preparation for new industry to move in and give opportunity.
"We must prepare our city for industry and prepare our city by educating the people….We must work cooperatively with our trade school to help train people for the jobs that industry will bring," he said.
Johnson said he would meet regularly with town employees to make plans and foster communication with department heads.
He said he wants to form a group of commissioners to help with tasks the town is not staffed to handle.
Hills disagreed, noting businesses in Franklin Parish already have a great resource in the Winnsboro Chamber of Commerce.
"Business people create jobs. We have to start with small businesses and encourage them to work with the Chamber of Commerce. If a business wants to come here, they will want to talk to other business owners in town, " he said.
Each candidate gave closing remarks, complimenting the late Mayor Jack Hammons achievements.
There is a run-off scheduled for May 1 if no candidate receives more than half the votes cast.