Candidates for various offices on the Oct. 24 ballot came to a Lunch Bunch meeting Friday in a political forum to discuss various issues in the parish.
While only candidates for different districts in the Webster Parish Police Jury were on hand to talk, many candidates running for office were invited, officials said. State rep. Gene Reynolds and rep. Henry Burns were in Baton Rouge and were not able to attend.
Rebecca Shelley-Sherrard, running for the seat of the late Charlie Walker, district 12, Nick Cox, candidate for district 8 police jury seat, and Vera Davison and Jerri Lee all talked about the issues at hand as well as the function of the police jury.
“I decided last year when our dear friend Charlie Walker was not going to run again, it had been placed on my heart (to run),” she said. “So, I went and talked to him last year, and told him I would. Little did I know after that, in October and November (2012) that we were going to have the situation with the M6 propellant.”
Sherrard was one of the people in a small group from Doyline that led the way in getting others involved in stopping the open tray burn of more than 16 million pounds of M6 artillery propellant improperly stored at the now defunct Explo Systems, Inc. at Camp Minden.
However, she says Doyline has issues outside of Camp Minden dealing with roads, litter, and Lake Bistineau.
Also running for District 12 is George Fuller, Bryan Langford and Dustin Moseley.
Incumbent Jerri Lee, district 9, says many don’t know the function of the police jury; that it’s not just about taking care of roads. In her position, she’s very active on committees and boards that are served by the police jury, including the library board, the Office of Community Services and Head Start.
She explained the purpose of the police jury, saying not only is it about taking care of the parish, but it’s also about public relations and supporting the people of the parish. She says she’s proud of the current jury and how well they all work together.
“We have the opportunity to work very well together,” she said. “There are 12 of us, and we don’t all have the same responsibilities. Some of us think of the police jury as a full-time job. I think, in a sense, we’re supposed to be public relations people. I think it’s our responsibility to support all the people in the parish. I’ve been blessed to have been able to serve on this jury; I’m in my second term.”
Beverly “Debbie” Kennon is running against Lee.
Vera Davison, district 10, is running unopposed and serves as vice president of the jury. She spoke on behalf of jury president Jim Bonsall who could not attend due to his wife’s illness, and has helped with the responsibilities of president in his absence.
She says she feels Bonsall has led the jury responsibly since his appointment when Walker stepped down as president.
“If Jim Bonsall could have been here, he’d have been here today,” she said. “He is the (epitome) of good leadership. We do have our own opinions about things. We don’t always agree, but let me tell you about the whole jury. We work together. Jim Bonsall has done a fantastic job. I don’t know him as well as some of you, but I do know he’s a good person.”
Running against Bonsall is Ronald Douglas Sale. Bonsall is the incumbent for district 6.
Nick Cox, running for district 8 against Harper Edwards, says he’s learned a lot by going door to door, visiting with constituents in the district.
“I’ve learned that people really care about our community, and people really care about what happens,” he said. “Some people think the police jury is not important, but it is. The police jury affects a lot of stuff. For instance, the landfill needs expanding, or what about the M6? What about our aquifer? What about our penal farm? We need to make good decisions about our future.”
During a question and answer session, much discussion centered on the permit being sought by Bossier Parish to withdraw water from Bayou Dorcheat.
Steve Lemmons, district 7, running unopposed, says the study is just that, a study. The scenic rivers permit has not been withdrawn, he says.
“This deal is still in the beginning study stage,” he said. “Nothing is set in stone with it, and nobody has made any decisions on anything. Bossier Parish has said if Webster Parish is not on board with it, it will not be done. In my personal opinion, why not look at the study and see what it says, and not just say ‘No,’ and not even look at the study. What if something did happen to the Sparta, where are you going to get your water from?”
Several municipalities in Webster Parish have passed resolutions in opposition of water withdrawal from Dorcheat.
Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24.