The Vicksburg Daily News sent a set of seven questions to all five candidates running for office in the municipal election. We will publish their answers in the order in which they are received.
1.) Tell us who you are, your Vicksburg story and why you have chosen to run for office.
I’m Mayor George Flaggs, Jr. I’ve lived in Vicksburg all my life and I believe I’ve proven my leadership ability through my honesty, commitment, and experience, and have created a pathway to the future for our City that can be achieved during a third term as Mayor. I’d like nothing more than the opportunity to continue to lead the growth and development of Vicksburg’s future for another four years.
2.) On the unsolved murders and our crime issue, what is your plan to improve the situation?
I don’t believe that crime is any different in Vicksburg than anywhere else. We live in a society where respect for the law is not what it should be. I believe we’re going to have to implement more community policing and create a different mindset about violent crime and upholding the law. I plan to address this by first creating a homicide/gang prevention position so we can attack these kind of crimes head on by creating more preventive programs and dedicating man power solely to this purpose. I also intend to address the discharging of firearms within the City of Vicksburg to the fullest extent of the law.
3.) Taxes and Spending. What are your priorities and how will you increase tax revenue and allocate spending?
I believe we need to continue being fiscally responsible with budgeting in city government as we have the last 8 years I’ve been here. We’ve done this by budgeting 97% of the previous year’s budget and not raising anyone’s taxes.
4.) COVID-19 has hit every segment of our lives. What will you do to improve the situation including how will you start bringing jobs back, help businesses start thriving again, and how would you do this in a safe manner?
I would do the same thing I did before — close down using the civil emergency order provision and communicate effectively with the public and open up as safely and as quickly as possible. I’m proud of the way that we shut down our economy and were able to bring it back so quickly while at the same time listening to the experts.
5.) What are your plans to grow Vicksburg?
Continue to support economic development through pro-business policies in City government and by way of the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation without raising taxes.
6.) What other areas of focus will be on your priority list starting with your top priority?
Rather than talk about past accomplishments, I want to talk about the direction I believe we need to go. We must effectively recruit and retain honest, hardworking police officers in Vicksburg while emphasizing the practice of community policing. We must also bring to justice those responsible for the unsolved homicides in our community and work to prevent future homicides. When we combine this with expanding our port (which will create at least 500 new jobs), completing the Hardware Building Project (MCITy), redeveloping our riverfront, enhancing our tourist experience, expanding retail businesses, improving our infrastructure and recreation opportunities, and creating new commercial and single-family housing, we will be the envy of every city in the State of Mississippi.
7.) What else do voters need to know about you and what you will do for the city?
Vicksburg is my passion. Since becoming Mayor, I’ve worked to be as accessible, transparent, and honest with the citizens of Vicksburg as possible. Through my relationships, I’ve brought in over $60 million dollars from state and federal government for projects when our annual budget is only $30 million. I’ve restored the City’s credit rating, maintained over $3 million in a reserve fund, improved our fire rating which has effectively lowered insurance rates, completed the $25 million sports complex, had the best water quality in the State of Mississippi, received numerous economic development awards, completed the 592 Waterline Project, are nearing the completion of a technology incubator that will transform our innovation and economic development environment for generations to come, and balanced the city’s budget for 8 years without raising taxes.See a typo? Report it here.