High-tech jobs and dirt roads are among the positives and negatives in Hancock County election

Hancock County has its challenges, and 15 candidates are running for 5 spots to become supervisor and work on those problems.

One of the biggest concerns in Tuesday’s election has to do with location.

“The big issue we have is flooding,” said David Yarborough of Waveland, the longest-serving member on the current board of supervisors. If levees continue to be built in Louisiana, he said, the problems are going to be worse than anticipated.

Many roads in the county went under water during Tropical Storm Barry last month, and residents say water is a constant concern. And for the first time this year, the Bonnet Carre Spillway on the Mississippi was opened twice in one year to release water from the flooding Mississippi River to protect New Orleans. But it devastated the Coast seafood industry and hurt tourism.

Kodie Koenenn, a candidate for District 3 supervisor, said the county needs to focus on storm-water management over the next 4 years. “Working with the engineers through the county’s drainage study we need to carry out a plan with both structural and non-structural solutions with future development and infrastructure in mind,” he said.

Scotty Adam, the incumbent in District 4, said the FEMA Base Flood Elevation is a challenge. “I feel this is hindering progress in some parts of the county due to having to elevate,” he said, particularly at the I-10 and Mississippi 603 corridor . The shortage of housing is another issue, he said, when companies are looking to locate to Hancock County. His goal is to “Make Hancock County a place anyone would be glad to call home.”

Several candidates said there are still too many dirt roads in the county. They mentioned economic development and quality of life and say the county has a lot of positives, with a port, an airport and Stennis Space Center, where rockets are being tested and even 3D printed. However, many of the employees at Stennis commute from Louisiana rather than live in Hancock County.

“That’s something we want to change,” said Darrin “Bo” Ladner, a candidate in District 5.

Here are the candidates for supervisor:

District 1

2 Republicans — Kurt Necaise of Pearlington and Theresa Ryan of Waveland;

Democrat — Jefferson “Buster” Verdin of Pearlington

Independent — David Yarborough of Waveland (incumbent)

“I’m not even on a ballot come next Tuesday,” Yarborough said. He was the only supervisor re-elected in 2015 and he’s again running as an independent. He will be on the ballot in November.

Challenger Theresa Ryan has a degree in computer science and worked for 25 years in information technology at Stennis Space Center, according to her website. She owns Computer Solutions in Hancock County.

District 2

2 Republicans — Kenny Hoda of Picayune and incumbent Greg Shaw of Perkinston

Independent — Henry Ward of Waveland

Hancock County is doing well but needs more economic development, Shaw said. He serves on the solid waste board and Southern Mississippi Planning & Development and as the incumbent, “I know the job,” he said.

Workforce development certification now is available to county residents in a partnership through Pearl River Community College to learn technical skills, he said. “I really enjoy working on stuff like that with youth, so they can stay home,” Shaw said. He is retired and said being a supervisor is like a full-time job. “I return all my phone calls,” he said.

Hoda, a former supervisor, said taxes, economic growth, children, seniors and roads are his focus. “We’ve got a lot of those county roads in such bad shape,” he said, some of them for 20-30 years. “They keep patching the holes,” he said. “I’d love to cover up all those bad roads and get them up to par.”

District 3

4 Republicans, all residents of Diamondhead — Danny Johnson, Kodie Koenenn, Carl Necaise and Fred Sullivan. Th incumbent, Blaine LaFontaine, is running for state Senate.

Johnson was superintendent of Bay St. Louis public works and has experience as a corporate manager and small business owner. According to his website, his priorities are full funding for police and fire, clean industry to create new jobs, quality recreational facilities and continued infrastructure repairs.

Koenenn said, “We need to continue working on our quality of life by supporting and investing in our assets that create growth and opportunities for our residents.” It’s important to work closely with state Legislators to secure BP funds, he said, which will attract economic development and create jobs.

Necaise worked 28 years at Sanderson Farms and 15 years at Stennis, according to his website, and served on the city council in Terry. His goals are to resurface as many roads as possible without raising taxes and to improve the county ball fields and animal shelter.

A combat veteran, Sullivan wants to enhance support for local veterans and to support local businesses and new industry to bring jobs to the county, his webpage says. He also would lead the effort to hold county government accountable, he says.

District 4

Republican — Scotty Adam of Bay St. Louis (incumbent)

Democrat — Thaddeus Collier of Bay St. Louis

District 5

2 Republicans, both of Kiln — Darrin “Bo” Ladner (incumbent) and Diana Ladner

The county took over the operation of McLeod Park near Kiln 3 years ago and the supervisors continue to invest in new facilities, Darrin Ladner said, “It’s actually paying for itself now,” he said. The county also has purchased land at the port and the airport for economic growth, he said. “Bay St. Louis is booming as well,” he said, and a new casino site recently was approved for Waveland.

Diana Ladner said on her website her concerns are the lack of jobs for graduates of the local schools and the many dirt roads in the county. She hopes to see a chain hotel at I-10/604 in the next 4 years, she said.

Candidates in the other contested races are:

Sheriff — 2 Republicans: Ricky Adam (incumbent) and former district court judge Tommy Carver Sr.

Coroner — 3 Republicans: Jim Faulk (incumbent), Christopher Crittenden, Jeff Hair

Circuit clerk — 5 Republicans: Tammy Garber, Kevin Ladner, Ray Ladner Jr., Kendra “KK” Ladner Necaise and Johnny Rutherford

Constable Place 2 — 3 Republicans: Chad Dorn, Oliver Lee Sr. and Ray Seal Jr.

Constable Place 3 — 3 Republicans: David Perks, Paul Taylor and Albert Biehl

Justice Court Judge 2 — 4 Republicans: James “Jay” Lagasse III (incumbent), Aaron “Ace” Lebleu, Brian Necaise, Jimmy Osbourn

Justice Court Judge 3 — 5 Republicans: Roger Estopinal Jr., Roland Flowers Jr. Adam Landrum, Eric Moran, Judith Redshaw

With such a big slate of candidates, it’s possible that a runoff election will be necessary on Aug. 27. The general election is Nov. 5.

The deadline for in-person absentee voting deadline is Saturday. The circuit clerk’s offices will be open from 8 a.m. to noon. Hancock County’s circuit clerk website has a voting precincts map for those who aren’t sure where they vote and other information about the election.

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Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.