Saturday, November 03, 2007

Why You Should Care About Transportation Commissioner

In Mississippi, politics definitely controls the highways - not to mention bridges, airports, railroads, truck safety, and public transportation. And who wins the election for Southern District Transportation Commissioner will make a HUGE difference.

Here's how it works. Mississippi has three elected Transportation Commissioners for three Districts: Southern (that's us), Central, and Northern. These Commissioners hire the Executive Director (currently our former Mayor Butch Brown) who has tremendous power over the Department (MDOT).

Right now, the Northern District has a Democratic Commissioner, Bill Minor, and he has no opposition in the election. The Central District has a Republican Commissioner, Dick Hall, and he has a Democratic opponent Rudy Warnock. Our Southern District has a Democratic Commissioner, Wayne Brown (no relation to Butch), and he has a Republican opponent Larry Benefield. The two Democrats support Butch Brown, and the Republican would fire him in a heartbeat. So the outcome of the elections for Transportation Commission will determine who controls MDOT. Barbour and the Republicans want this badly. Butch Brown and the Democrats are fighting for their life.

I know there are a lot of Natchezians who aren't fond of Butch Brown. However, even they have to admit Butch has been good to Natchez as Executive Director of MDOT. If you want that to continue, you'd better vote for Wayne Brown. If not, you can let Barbour take over and get ignored again. There's another reason to vote for Brown - he's an engineer. His opponent and the other Commissioners appear to be professional politicians.

What do I predict? Both of these races are hotly contested and very close, but I'll go out on a limb and say both incumbents will win.



Anonymous said...

For Natchez, the Southern District Highway Commissioner race is about local politics. And what does "Democrat" or "Republican" mean at the local level, that is, above honest public service? I agree, it is a difficult decision that everyone must make for him and herself.

Anonymous said...

Do your research, Casey. Butch Brown is bad news for everyone. For every good deed he did for this community he took a bundle with him. The guy who unseated him for the short run has an office in the "boonies" as his punishment. It's out there. Read it. Then make your pronouncements!

Anonymous said...

Why would the Republican fire Butch "in a minute"?

Anonymous said...

Butch aside for a moment...I heard these two candidates (Brown and Benefield) speak at a forum recently. Benefield seems to genuinely care about Gulf Coast folks, but that's where his qualifications end. Brown is the obvious professional. It became clear to me as the questions were answered that Benefield does not have the professional expertise to do the Commissioner's job as well as Brown, who is an engineer. He seemed to have no understanding of the bureacratic hurdles, laws, etc that have to be followed/ dealt with. Wayne Brown is clearly much more qualified and would not have the learning curve Benefield would. Wayne Brown came across as professional, intelligent, qualified, and calm, and answered questions directly with concrete answers. Benefield seemed passionate enough, but offered no concrete or specific answers to questions. I had no opinion prior to that everning, but came away very sure that I would vote for Brown. (This position honestly should not be a political one, in my opinion.)

Anonymous said...

And just to make sure this is heard, I republished it here: Jamie Franks is a real person, not a robot, but Phil Bryant is a yes man. I heard them in a forum on the Coast, and there were obvious differences. Also, in 2005, Jamie Franks is the only person in the House of Reps who stood up and said no when Barbour & co wanted to put oil rigs in the Gulf and the Mississippi Sound, within one mile of the National Seashore! Can you imagine future visits to Ship Island? Bryant said that night: "I love oil rigs,I'd like to put one in my backyard" and he was only half kidding. Franks took the initiative to say he is not opposed to drilling, but would only support it at least 12 miles south of the barrier islands (out of the viewshed)and he would not allow drilling in State Parks. I predict this will become a big issue again if Barbour is reelected, so it is ESSENTIAL to vote for Franks to stand against him.

Anonymous said...

If Barbour were that interested in unseating Wayne Brown, trust me, you would have seen a pile of $$$ poured in to Benefield's campaign. That has not happened. Barbour is NOT trying to seize control of the Commission.

Anonymous said...

Anyone from Natchez who does not vote for Wayne Brown is a complete idiot.

Anonymous said...

Casey, I completely agree with your endorsements for Central and Southern Trans Commissioner. I don't see the line you draw to Governor Barbour, other than your over bearing dislike of him.

However, to "anon 8:02am." Dick Hall would fire Butch Brown, because he's fired him before. Wayne Brown cares about us in Southwest Mississippi and has worked tirelessly for our fellow Mississippians on the Coast. I don't have anything to say about Benefield. I just know that Wayne Brown is without a doubt SW Mississippi's best choice. As for Dick Hall, his time should be up. Have any of you driven around on central Mississippi roads? They are awful. The I-20 stretch from Clinton to Jackson is an embarrassment. I would hate to know what out-of-state commuters think about us when driving through that part of the state. I don't know if Rudy Warnock will be better, but I hope central Mississippi fires Dick Hall.

Y'all need to do some soul searching before you bash Butch Brown. After Natchez insulted him by electing Hank... then bit itself in the @$$ with Phillip, one would think Natchez would rally around Butch, who's responsible for the new Liberty Rd bridge... the new state-of-the-art intersection at Natchez Regional... and a soon to be new intersection at the old truck scales. Sometimes we have to put our personal feelings aside and give credit where credit is due.