Two candidates running for election to the Leflore County Board of Supervisors introduced their agendas to the Greenwood Voters League on Wednesday night.
The Rev. Willie E. Brown, pastor of McKinney Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Baptist Town, is running in the crowded Aug. 6 Democratic primary for the party’s nomination in District 2. Ulysses Kelly, technology director for the new Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District, will be on the primary ballot, facing off against incumbent Democrat Robert Collins in District 5.
Brown has deep Leflore County roots. He leads a church founded in the 19th century, and he was born and raised in the Browning Community at the heart of District 2, the youngest of nine children.
“I’m running because I love the people of this district, and I love each one of you,” Brown said. “Not only because of the love that I have for people, but I believe Leflore County is a good place to live. It’s a great place to live. I know there’s an exodus of folks leaving Greenwood, and people talk about how bad it is, but it’s as bad as we make it. If we sit around and don’t do anything and just complain about how bad a situation is, it won’t get any better.”
The minister said he moved back to Browning six months ago to be able to help his 94-year-old mother. He talked about people needing “the heart of a servant” to allow them to realize the love they need from other people: “Ask yourself, ‘When was the last time I thought about somebody else? When was the last time I thought about doing some kind gesture for somebody else?’”
Brown said that if he is elected, “the best interests of you will always be in my heart, and always be on my mind. ... Everything I decide on will be with your best interests on my mind. ... I will always do the best that I can to represent the folks of District 2 and of Leflore County.”
Brown said he wants to see a cleaner District 2 and make it a place people can be proud of, where yards were clean enough and well-tended so they could be declared “Yard of the Month.”
“When industry comes to look at our area and they think about where they want to be located, they don’t want to locate somewhere where you won’t cut your grass, you won’t clean up around your house,” Brown said. “... They want to locate somewhere where children go to school and the dropout rate is not off the charts. They want to locate somewhere where crime is not at record highs.”
Brown said parents need to start acting like parents and raise their children to learn how to work and behave themselves.
“Let’s all get involved in making our communities a better place to live,” he said.
Kelly has worked for the Leflore County School District for 23 years as a computer technician and now as technology director. Fittingly, he used PowerPoint, maps, photos and video he shot from his own drone during his presentation.
Kelly said he is financing his own campaign, despite “rumors” he has heard that someone else put him up for office and funded his campaign. He also said he’s been told he doesn’t have experience for the position, but he countered that throughout his career with the district and in private business as a subdivision developer, he has “risen to expectations” and has done whatever needed to be done to accomplish his goals.
He said people have told him they couldn’t vote for him because “he’s not from here.” Kelly said he went to college at Mississippi Valley State University and started working when he was in college. He moved to an apartment in Greenwood before graduation and was hired into the Leflore County schools in 1996.
Kelly said his son was born in Greenwood and his mother died here. He said he has spent 28 years in Leflore County after spending the first 18 years of his life in his hometown. “I’m from here,” he said. “This is all I know.”
The job of a supervisor has grown from the day of being in charge only of fixing roads and bridges, Kelly said. To boost the population of the county and keep people from leaving, he said, the county needs a successful school district, sustainable job market, public places that provide beauty, and places for shopping, fine dining and worship.
“You got to get up and you got to grind if you want to have something. That’s the only way you’re going to get ahead,” he said, warning against making comments that there are no jobs in Leflore County. “It’s not necessarily a jobs problem. It’s an us problem.”
Kelly showed photos he’d taken of public areas in Robinsonville, Oxford, Tupelo and Madison and compared them to areas of Greenwood that could be dressed up and beautified.
Kelly moved on to photos he took in 2013 when a man complained he couldn’t get out of his driveway because of the condition of the county road. The road is now worse, he said. He showed pictures of houses jeopardized by flooding in the Blue Lake area and said supervisors have not been doing their jobs protecting the environment.
And he showed video of a flooded Glendale subdivision from this spring where rains drenched the area. The pumping station at the bottom of the flooded area is outdated and broken, and it can’t remove the water needed to keep houses from flooding.
Kelly promised that in his first 90 days as a supervisor he would hold public forums to address problems, conduct an assessment of what needs to be repaired or replaced and the cost, review the budget, meet employees and provide them with expectations and encouragement. He also said he would reinstate Derrick “Chitchy” Chambers, one of his opponents, who had been demoted from the assistant road foreman position in District 5 to a desk job after he filed to run against incumbent Collins.
Kelly said he was the candidate for the job because “nobody works harder than me.” Of all the candidates in District 5, he said, “I have the best plan. I have the best vision. I have the best platform.”
David Jordan, president of the league, reminded members of the Voters League that Jim Hood, a Democratic candidate for governor, will appear at next Wednesday’s meeting, at 7 p.m.
•Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or email@example.com.