DIXIE INN — Although the Village of Dixie Inn is small in size, residents will make some big decisions Tuesday.
A major shift in the village’s government could take place. Residents will cast their ballots for three aldermen – which only features one incumbent – and for the village’s next mayor.
Current alderman Kay Hallmark-Stratton is challenging incumbent Ava Nell McWhorter, who has led the village for the past 17 years. Both have been Dixie Inn residents for more than 40 years.
Both candidates were asked five questions, here are there responses as answered.
What is the most pressing issue facing Dixie Inn today?
McWhorter: A. I feel the most pressing issue in Dixie Inn today is keeping our residents safe and secure by improving, repairing and keeping all infrastructures and equipment up to date and in proper working order. B. I feel our police department is one of the best in our parish and we need to continue to provide the best possible training and up to date equipment to keep our citizens and visitors safe.
Hallmark-Stratton: We need more businesses and permanent residents. Dixie Inn is located at the intersections of I-20, Hwy. 371 North and Hwy. 80 and we are located on Dorcheat Bayou. There is so much potential for our small community to attract more businesses and become a destination for travelers.
What worries you most about Dixie Inn currently?
McWhorter: One of my main concerns in low citizen census and the possibility of a natural disaster such as tornadoes and fires. I am also concerned about our residents maintaining their property by keeping it mowed and free of debris. I want to get the Board of Aldermen more involved in the running of our government.
Hallmark-Stratton: The continuing decline of our population. We have a lot of vacant area in our small community for housing. Hopefully we will be able to attract developers who see the potential Dixie Inn has.
What project(s) could you begin in your first term to improve Dixie Inn?
McWhorter: A. I feel we need to look into the annexation of residential communities that have shown interest in becoming a part of our village. This will increase our population. B. I want to look into applying for a grant to help with the purchasing of an early warning disaster alert system to warn area residents of an impeding disaster. C. I feel one way to address unsightly, unkept residential property is to enforce village ordinances that pertain to maintenance of private property. I also feel that by entering the cleanest city contest for the state will encourage participation and pride in the village. I would also like to increase the size of Village City Hall to provide a place for group conferences, instructional meetings and recreational activities. D. I feel that the Board of Aldermen should be appointed to various committees such as parks, roads and residential concerns. They also need to take part in encouraging new businesses to the village.
Hallmark-Stratton: I will continue the projects, which have been voted on by the current city council members. I would like to see all of the city streets repaired, replace the broken and missing equipment in our parks, and possibly build a concrete walking track in McClanahan Park. We will need to continue to improve the water and sewer systems so the residents will be assured of safe drinking water and sanitary conditions in the village. I will work with the city council on any and all projects that they and the residents feel will improve our village so long as it does not require creating huge sums of debt that the residents would not be able to afford.
What differentiates you from your opponent?
McWhorter: The main difference between me and my opponent is that I have lived longer and I have experienced life in various situations. So therefore, I should be wiser and more knowledgable about most life challenges. I have served in the municipal government as an alderman and mayor for 30 years and this gives me more experience in running the village government. I am unmarried and have plenty of time to be involved with the daily running of the village. I am not wealthy and I own very little property within the village that could possibly cause a conflict of interest.
Hallmark-Stratton: I really see no differences. Ms. Ava and I have both lived in Dixie Inn for 40 years or more. We both love our community and want what is best for Dixie Inn. We are both Christians and very active in our churches. We are also both very family oriented and have had the pleasure of knowing the others families through all the years of our friendship.
What about you might surprise voters?
McWhorter: People would be surprised to know that I have attended several notable institutions of higher learning. I have attended Princeton, the University of Texas, Louisiana College, LSU and New Orleans Theological Seminary. I was also a nurse missionary in Gaza for over 20 years. I served 15 years in the Air Force Reserve Nurse Core as a Major. I am also proud to say that during my term as Mayor for the Village of Dixie Inn we are completely debt free.
Hallmark-Stratton: I love to play most types of music. My uncle owned Home Place Acres Bluegrass Park during the 1980s and 1990s. That is where I learned to play upright bass and mandolin. I still play at many of the jam sessions and festivals in the area. I also enjoy playing Cajun music and when I play the piano, it is usually classical music.
Dixie Inn residents will cast their ballot for the next mayor of the village Nov. 8.