Candidates Meet in Forum

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With the general election less than a week away the public had a chance to hear from the candidates, thanks to a forum sponsored by the Human Relations Commission and Meridian Community College.

The candidates, including three seeking the office of mayor, fielded questions from a panel of local media on a number of different topics.

"Let's talk about basic services. As I've said, in the past 12 years we've put $12 million into street overlay," said incumbent John Robert Smith, a Republican. "We've put $11 million into street maintenance and repair. When we look at water and sewer, we've improved our water and sewer, and you drink the best-rated water in the state of Mississippi and that's been proven over five years; just got our latest ratings in."

"Nobody can take credit for the best drinking water in Mississippi. It's a feat of nature," said independent candidate Harrison Lewis, a local radio personality. "Our waters come from south of Tupelo and it comes down and the reason it's the best drinking water, because many industries not in Meridian and don't tap into it."

"You know, we have to be realistic. When you look at what we've done, the board of supervisors bought 600 acres of land six years ago. We just got water and sewer here. I mean, we've got missed opportunities in that process and during that time," said Democrat Jimmie Smith, who is currently a county supervisor.

Job creation and the city's infrastructure were also topics that seemed to dominate the forum.