Four of the five candidates for mayor of Farmerville came together on virtual meeting Monday evening for a question and answer session. The forum, sponsored by local pastors and the Union Parish Voters League, used the Zoom platform to bring everyone together, with Shirley Douglas Burch as the moderator.
Arthur C. “Boots” Hackney, Bevelyn Hunter, Gerome Nation and Jeffery Woods were each in virtual attendance for the forum, with John Crow the only candidate not available.
This format was not a debate. There was no back and forth, no rebuttals. Each candidate was given three minutes at the start to talk about their reason for running for the office of mayor.
Then, Burch asked five questions. After each question each candidate was given two minutes to answer. Here are the questions and a brief summary of each candidate’s answers:
What do you feel is most important for our town right now?
Hunter: Economic development. That includes workforce development. We have to be prepared for the businesses we attract.
Woods: That we come together as a community. All races, all economic levels, to create opportunities.
Hackney: That we bring in new businesses, clean the city up and provide growth.
Nation: The city is headed in the right direction, but there’s always room for growth. We need to make sure we have the infrastructure in place to support new business.
What qualifies you to be mayor?
Nation: 20 years on the council and serving as Mayor Pro-temp. My ability to communicate with people and learn what the needs are.
Hunter: I am a problem solver. I seek solutions. I bring an opportunity to bridge all levels of government to make Farmerville a leader.
Hackney: I served in the military for 21 years. I was a teacher and coach in Union Parish. I served here as a Justice of the Peace and I have been a successful businessman here for 15 years.
Woods: A 31-year career in the military. I’m known for being a leader. I’m a business owner here now. I have volunteered at the schools here for 20 years.
Some citizens say we have traffic problems, especially around our schools. How would you mitigate these situations?
Hackney: You can leave it or plan a route around the town, but it’s an economic issue. We’re going to have these issues during school hours.
Hunter: Call in the DOTD for an assessment to see if we need traffic lights to keep the flow going.
Nation: We’ve had studies in the past. You have to have statistics on traffic accident and traffic deaths to be able to move streets and traffic lights.
Woods: We need to have an engineering study and work with the governor and DOTD to make everyone aware of the problems we have.
What ideas do you have that will not only uplift the youth, but help them grow in all aspects of life?
Woods: We need a Boys and Girls Club and working with our service organizations with mentorship programs.
Nation: A lot of kids have grown up in single parent households. You have to listen to them. We have to work with them.
Hackney: We need to work on parental guidance. We need a mentoring program where men create opportunities for our youth.
Hunter: It takes a village. Build our early education programs. Build vocational programs here.
How would you employ the police force to ensure fair policing?
Nation: Ask the chief to work with his officers to make sure they have adequate training.
Woods: We need to look at the training to make sure it is adequate and updated. We should have community meetings to create relationships.
Hackney: Meet with the chief and officers about leadership qualities. Meetings about what to do and what not to do.
Hunter: We need cultural understanding and respect. This is a matter of the heart.