Holifield talks hospital, Wright brings up bridges, Dickerson wants people to show up at polls
A supervisor candidate who was elected to the board more than 20 years ago and one who was in charge of constructing a multimillion-dollar county building when he was in his early 20s were speakers at the Citizens Against Corruption meeting at Tuckers Crossing Community Center on Thursday night.
Donald Dale Holifield, who was Beat 3 Supervisor from 1997-2000, said that taxpayers have put “millions of dollars into South Central Regional Medical Center” since 1990. “It’s owned by the county, it operates tax-exempt” and supervisors are “still borrowing money” to expand it.
“I want to make it better,” he said, briefly laying out a plan that has a couple of options: Either offer health care at a 20 percent discount for taxpayers or “sell it to a private company if they have a plan to make it better and keep the employees.”
If the county continues to own the hospital, Holifield said he would “fight to make sure the employees are part of PERS.”
During the time he served on the board, Holifield said the county got 150 miles of four-lane highway, built a number of bridges, bought fire trucks, built the Magnolia Center “and lowered taxes every year.”
Johnny Wright told the crowd that he became a superintendent for Larry J. Sumrall Contractors when he was only 22 and was in charge of building West Jones High School.
“We finished two months ahead of schedule,” said Wright, who now runs his own contracting business.
He was critical of supervisors for “just borrowing $9.2 million to redo bridges.” He said he has expertise in jobs with concrete, asphalt and paving.
“I know I have the qualifications,” he said. “I’m in this for the people of Jones County, not for self-gain. You will never be embarrassed you voted for me.”
Phil Dickerson, a small businessman, ran for the job four years ago.
“I lost by 60 votes,” he said, “and 10,000 (voters) stayed at home. People, if we’re going to make a change, you’ve got to get out and vote.”
Dickerson said he would listen to his constituents and get along with his colleagues.
“We’ve got too much fighting up there,” he said. “We need five like-minded people on that board.”
Dickerson, Holifield and Wright are all running for the Beat 3 Supervisor position, which is held by longtime incumbent Barry Saul.
District 3 Justice Court Judge candidate Stacy Walls also talked about the people’s participation in the process.
“I wish more people were involved,” she said.
A former jailer at the Jones County Adult Detention Center who is now a deputy clerk at Jones County Justice Court, Walls said that training has served her well.
“I have had to negotiate,” she said. “I’ve had to step between officers and inmates, and not all of my decisions were favored by either of them.”
Clerks have to undergo the same training as the judges, Walls said. Laws and court procedures have changed a lot over the last few years, she said.
“My job is to make sure we stay in compliance,” she said.
She said she will treat everyone equally, regardless of “color or the amount of money in their pocket.”
She is running against longtime incumbent Judge David Lyons, who was in the audience for her speech. Incumbents have not been invited to speak at any CAC events, so far.
Deputy Coroner Burl Hall is running for the top job now. Longtime incumbent Nancy Barnett has pulled out of the race. Hall has served as one of her deputies for 19 years and is owner of Ellisville Funeral Home.
“It’s a very important office,” he said, “and I’ve been doing it for a long time.”
Coroner candidate Phyllis Pitts also spoke to the crowd, saying she has worked as a nurse at elder-care facilities for 19 years.
“I deal with families and death on a daily basis,” she said. “I’m hard-working and dedicated.”
Mike Sims, who is a founding member of CAC, is also running for District 3 constable. He said he wanted the job for years but didn’t want to run against longtime incumbent Mack Tucker. David Livingston, who has served one term, is also running for a second term.
“I will serve my papers and assist law enforcement, if asked,” he said.