Harrison County

Tourism, regulations are priorities for Harrison County District 1 candidates


Beverly Martin and Donald Todd running for seat


rzilbermints @sunherald.com

The candidates running for the District 1 seat on the Harrison County Board of Supervisors are running on two very different platforms.

Beverly Martin, a Republican with a background in tourism, wants to see tourism on the Gulf Coast grow and intends to use her seat on the Board to encourage just that.

Donald Todd, a Libertarian business-owner, intends to roll back regulations, particularly pertaining to private property, and to streamline the process for opening a business in Harrison County.

Both said their ideas would help drive economic growth.

Martin and Todd are running for a seat with no incumbent. Current District 1 Supervisor Windy Swetman elected not to seek re-election.

Martin is the executive director of the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association's Gulf Coast chapter and a past commissioner and president of the Harrison County Tourism Commission. She has served on numerous other boards related to tourism.

And she wants to see visitors to the Coast return to pre-Hurricane Katrina levels.

"It's not the same since Katrina. It peaked before Katrina but it's not coming back fast enough," she said. "We see a lot of restaurants opening but we see a lot closing. We don't see enough hotels coming back. And I don't see visitors here."

Martin said she wanted, in particular, to encourage the growth of family-oriented tourist destinations.

"We have a beach, gaming, nice people, hospitality," she said. "One thing that's missing is the family attractions. What we have is nice, we need to take it to the next level."

Martin also wants to see more non-tourism economic development and would partner with cities to encourage that.

"I believe that anything the county can do or partner with the cities to do, we should make an effort to do so and benefit everybody," she said.

Todd has lived on the Gulf Coast for 25 years and owned two successful businesses in District 1, including Todd's Garage in D'Iberville before it was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.

"I was raised in California. And I moved here by choice because I preferred it here," he said. "But I'm seeing it edge closer and closer towards that overbearing government and away from what I moved here for."

Todd's campaign platform is centered around getting rid of county regulations on residents.

"I want to make it easier to open a business, as far as what you have to go through with the county. Streamline that procedure and make it easier," he said. "It's hard enough to open a business without having to go through all the red tape."

Todd also wants to ease regulations on private property.

"Private property is a big issue for me as well. If somebody wants to put up a garden shed or a gazebo, they shouldn't have to go through so much in order to do that," he said. "Same thing, if someone wants to put another trailer or single-wide in their yard. If I have the property and it doesn't bother the neighbors, they should be able to do that without getting permission."

One thing both candidates agree on is the need for more transparency and accountability on the board. After a year in which scandals ousted two members of the five-person board, that belief holds true for almost every candidate in every district.

The election is Nov. 3.