Educational and employment opportunities, public safety, and road and drainage problems are the key issues the next Harrison County District 4 supervisor will need to deal with, all three candidates said.
The seat was vacated when Supervisor William Martin took his life.
Three contenders are on the general election ballot: Democrat Kent Jones, Republican Leisa Leisy and independent John Bouie II.
The race started out as one of the most free-wheeling on the ballot with 10 Democrats running in the primary election.
John Johnson, who was appointed to temporarily fill the seat for the remainder of Martin's term, did not run.
Bouie, a financial adviser who owns Diamond Capital Insurance and Financial Services and Diamond Capital International, said he opted to run as an independent to avoid the crowded primary. He said the time is ripe for a change in leadership after a year of several scandals.
He has lived on the Coast since moving with his family as a teen. He said he wanted to focus on promoting economic development. Crime, infrastructure and housing availability will be key issues for the district, he said. Creating more jobs and encouraging the growth of small businesses will help revitalize the area.
"I'll work with city and other county leaders to address the issues and to find the resources to take care of the situation," he said.
Jones agreed on the major issues facing the area. A former Gulfport High School honor student and football standout, he worked for Biloxi police Department in the 1980s and was a security with Mississippi Power. For the last 10 year he had served as a safety and environmental officer for the Board of Su
Jones said he wanted to fully fund the Harrison County Sheriff's Office and work with Gulfport police to improve public safety. He also said he wanted to work with major area employers, such as the casino or shipbuilding industries, to improve job opportunities for District 4 residents. And he vowed to accomplish the improvements without raising taxes.
"I want District 4's playgrounds to be just as good as the other districts'. I want our roads to be just as good as other roads in the county," he said. "Obviously, I want to create jobs."
Leisy also said she would work on jobs, employment and infrastructure, seeking grant money for scholarships and encouraging start-up businesses. She wants to see more training programs offered at Job Corps, to create a constituent group that meets monthly and helps with grant writing, and to use money from selling unnecessary county vehicles to give county employees a raise.
But Leisy, a real estate agent who has also worked in a number of other industries, had another focus during her run for office.
"I'm basically about equality, transparency and accountability," she said. "I'm against special interests, cronyism, wasteful spending and good old boys."
The general election is Nov. 3. Voters unsure of what district they vote in can check a voter precinct locator on Harrison County's website.