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James Radcliff makes case to voters for keeping him in Dist. 1 Supervisor’s post

Dist. 1 Supervisor James Radcliff

To the voters of Dist. 1:

Hello, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is James Radcliff, and I am asking for the support of voters in District One as I seek to continue serving you as a member of the Greene County Board of Supervisors.

I grew up in the Agricola Community of George County, but have called Greene County home for over 20 years. My wife, Patrice, and I have one son, Maddox, who is a recent graduate of GCHS. The three of us, along with my mother-in-law, Pat James, live on Dean Turner Extension.

I love Greene County and have been fortunate to be able to serve the community as a volunteer firefighter and first responder, Boy Scout Troop Leader, youth baseball coach and league officer. But, my greatest honor has been the opportunity to serve my friends and neighbors on our county’s governing board.

I am not a natural politician. My wife and I started a medical oxygen business and grew it into a very successful enterprise over the course of 17 years. We recently sold that company to allow me to pursue other interests and focus my energy and efforts on the duties of public office. While I have followed the actions of our local, state and federal government officials over the years, I did not intend to get into the political arena. I became interested in serving in this role after attending several meetings of the supervisors and being shocked as to how our county government was being operated. Being one to put my money where my mouth is, I became more active and decided to challenge the status quo and work to move our county forward after watching years of the same old brand of politics fail to do so.

In the 12 months since being appointed to the position, I can honestly say I have been encouraged by the new direction we have been able to take our county government. There is plenty left to do, but in a short amount of time me and my fellow board members have begun to tackle a host of issues that have been kicked down the road for far too long and are working to plot a positive course for the future of our community.

Issues such as the conditions at the county jail, the deteriorating old factory building in Leakesville, numerous low-weight bridges facing closure and miles of county roads in disrepair are not new problems for our county. You’ve heard about them, read about them and suffered through them for years. In every case, those lingering problems have grown more expensive and more difficult to fix with each passing year.

I’m a conservative and believe government should operate as efficiently and frugally as possible. But, I also believe very strongly in getting things done and attacking problems head-on with a plan and purpose. That is the approach I am advocating for at the county board table and in Dist. One as we work to address these and other challenges. We can’t let these problem areas continue to hold us back and distract from opportunities to grow our community and improve the quality of life for everyone in the county.

That is what I committed myself to doing when I accepted the challenge and honor of representing you in this public office.

Take the jail for example. The previous board spent a ton of time kicking around pipe-dream plans to build a new, stand-alone facility. That in itself is not necessarily a bad idea, but the approach taken made no sense to me. Before we strap taxpayers with a big bill to pay over many years, we need to make sure we’ve looked at all of our options and the true costs associated with building, staffing and operating the facility to an acceptable standard. While the current board has taken on the work of identifying our options for a long-term solution, we’ve looked for practical steps we could take immediately to address the most pressing problems Sheriff McLeod is facing with the jail. Most recently, we’ve allotted $50,000 for security upgrades and lighting and electrical improvements that will help immediately, but also not be wasted money if we do decide to relocate the jail in the future.

The old factory building is another topic that evokes a lot of discussion. Unfortunately, the debate (or lack thereof) has raged far too long without action. The building is in such disrepair at this point that it is clear to me it is time to remove the old structure and look for ways to market the property for commercial development. Our board has decided to pursue that course and is currently in the process of identifying the most cost-effective way to change that property from an eyesore and drain on resources into a real asset for our community once again.

Speaking of economic development, I am very excited about the approach we are taking to get our county back in the game. We’ve hired Danny Box to lead our economic development efforts and I could not be happier with the job he is doing. Working with Danny, we are trying to re-establish Greene County as a business-friendly area that is attractive for business investment, either from outside companies or home-grown ones that are looking to grow and expand. We have rebuilt our relationship with state economic development officials and are doing the same with our legislative contingents at the state and federal levels. I am convinced these efforts will pay dividends if we stay the course.

Of course, I am also focused on improving our county’s transportation infrastructure. Unfortunately, we are way behind in this area and are having to deal with numerous bridges that are facing stringent weight restrictions or even closure. As a board, we’ve prioritized this issue and are working to replace or repair these structures in a way that will fix the issues for decades, not have to be addressed repeatedly. The bandaid approach has not worked and has left us in a difficult position. We are working through the problem with a county-wide approach, targeting the worst bridges first.

We also recently instituted a system to help our local heavy haulers (loggers, poultry producers, etc.) find the best and safest routes for them, while limiting the heavy traffic in areas that are problematic. This helps keep goods and services moving, but also helps local residents by keeping their routes open and in the best shape possible for their daily commutes.

Staying with the idea that we accomplish more by working together, I have worked closely with our county engineer, state officials and the Town of Leakesville to secure funding for full-replacement of the bridge over Bear Creek on Old Avera Road. Along these same lines, supervisors are working together better than any point in my time in Greene County to share resources and come together to tackle problems. One perfect example was a major culvert project on Old 24 that was recently completed with the assistance of fellow supervisors Danny Smith and Gary Fairley who brought equipment and expertise to help solve a pressing problem for a fraction of what it would have cost otherwise. I am committed to looking for even more ways to assist one another and consolidate our efforts to stretch our available funding and improve our roads.

Over the past year, the board has also worked to re-prioritize projects and group them together to lower our costs. We’ve tackled numerous routine maintenance issues that were threatening to restrict our State Aid and federal funding and I have strived to get the most bang for our tax dollars when it comes to repairing and resurfacing roads in our district. Projects that residents will see progress on very soon include base leveling repairs and resurfacing on Rounsaville, St. Ellen and Jernigan roads. And, while our crews are out doing routine maintenance, we are mindful to address issues that will make it easier and less expensive to complete future improvement projects we are currently planning. I appreciate residents who have seen the work and questioned it. Some of it does appear outside the norm as it has not been done in years, but I assure you clipping the edge of the roads, cleaning out and reshaping ditches and replacing bad or damaged cross-culverts now will pay off down the road.

Finally, I want to address some of the things I have not been able to do. From time-to-time I will get requests for loads of gravel or red clay for a private road, driveway or other project on a private landowner’s property. While I would like to help all of the people in Dist. One, state law is very clear on what we can and can’t use county resources to do. In the past, a graded driveway, a few loads of red clay or even some backhoe work on private land, were requests that were routinely granted by some county officials. I don’t begrudge any taxpayer who may have gotten a little benefit in that manner, but those days are behind us as state officials have cracked down on this and are doling out stiff punishments to individual elected officials, county employees and the counties they represent when these types of violations are discovered. I have been told directly by Auditor Shad White that his office is committed to catching and punishing those who misuse public funds. I applaud the actions of State Auditor Shad White as he has worked to weed out waste, misuse and mismanagement of your tax dollars, but it has been difficult at times to say no to these types of requests.

If you have an issue, please come and talk with me and we will work to see where we can help and try to guide you in the right direction in those times when my hands are tied by state law. Beyond that, please know that I will do everything in my power to make sure your tax dollars are spent wisely and for the benefit of all our residents.

I appreciate you taking time to read this statement on my candidacy. If I didn’t cover something you are interested in or if you have a question about the office or the job I am doing, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I am open to ideas, concerns, complaints and even criticism, as my only goal is to do the best job I can do for our community.

While we have challenges ahead of us, when I look at our county, I see a ton of positives and a lot of potential for our community to experience positive growth and for our residents to prosper. But, to get there we need strong leadership. I think I am the best candidate to provide that leadership moving forward. With that in mind, I ask for your vote and support in the upcoming election. Please go to the polls on Nov. 2 or cast your absentee ballot if you can’t vote on election day.

James Radcliff


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