OCEAN SPRINGS -- Randy Bosarge, the former deputy who defeated longtime county Supervisor John McKay in the Republican primary, faces two independent candidates in Tuesday's general election -- Allen L. Williams of Vancleave and Jeffrey L. Knight of Gautier.
The three are vying for the seat in District 5, a district that includes east Ocean Springs, south Jackson County and parts of Vancleave and Gautier.
Bosarge, 53, from the St. Andrews area, was a deputy in the 1980s and 1990s and ran for sheriff in 1999 against former Sheriff Mike Byrd. Afterward, he became a contractor, a board member for the Jackson County Utility Authority and, as vice chair of the Mississippi Wind Pool Mitigation Council, worked on a program to retrofit homes for lower insurance costs.
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He said he has raised close to $25,000 for the race, $20,000 of it his own money.
"I want to be the people's voice," Bosarge told the Sun Herald. "That's why I decided to fund this campaign myself, so I'm not beholden to individuals."
He said the biggest issue in the race is the poor management of the county hospital system and restoring the retirees' pension. But he said the county needs to consider the number of industrial tax exemptions it gives, otherwise homeowners and small businesses will continue carrying the load.
"Large businesses that make a profit, it's time for them to ante up," he said and pointed to the most-recent tax exemption the county gave Ingalls Shipbuilding. He said the exemption was for regular maintenance and equipment Ingalls would have had to replace anyway.
Focusing on leadership
Allen Williams, 52, is a recruiter for Tulane School of Continuing Studies in Mississippi. He has raised about $8,000 for his campaign and said the key to winning the race will be voter turnout.
As an independent, he said he hasn't had a forum to address large groups, but he has campaigned door to door and to small groups.
"I'm not focusing on the obvious hospital situation, making it the end-all, be-all," he said. "But I'm focusing on leadership and how important it is, watching and getting informed."
He said with the county hospital disaster there was a lack of oversight by county leaders, "which reflects an absence of leadership or not enough to make sure what was being reported was accurate."
And he said the county needs a new vision for economic development that includes the entire county, especially north of Interstate 10, and not just an industrial zone in east Pascagoula.
Need for youth jobs
Jeffrey Knight, 49, who spent eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps, has been practicing dentistry in Gautier since 1998 and is the past president of the Mississippi Dental Society.
As of last week, he had collected $4,000 to $5,000 for the campaign, including his own money.
Knight sees one of the biggest issues in the race as the lack of summer jobs for youth to help decrease the crime rate in the county.
Within 90 days of being elected, he said, he would put together a report showing where county tax dollars are being wasted.
"I've always had a desire for service," he said. "I wouldn't look at it as just going to a job, but something I would like to be doing."
If elected county supervisor, he plans to keep his dental office, something he rebuilt after Katrina.
With the county hospital issue, he's in favor of retirees getting 100 percent of their retirement, even if it means using BP oil-spill restoration money.