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Police Jury candidates answer questions

Friday, November 1, 2019

Early voting for the Nov. 16 runoff election begins Saturday, and included in the list of races are the final four Lincoln Parish Police Jury seats to be decided.

Nine police jury positions were up for grabs in the Oct. 12 primary, and five were resolved, seating three incumbents and two new jurors-elect for 2020.

No candidate in Districts 1, 3, 4 and 5 drew a majority of votes last month, sending two would-be jurors per district into runoffs.

The Ruston Leader reached out to each of these remaining eight candidates before early voting and presented them with the same three questions to remind voters of their platforms, qualifications and capabilities.

Answers from candidates in Districts 1 and 3 are recorded below, while the candidates for Districts 4 and 5 will run in Sunday’s Leader.

In District 1, incumbent Theresa Wyatt (DRuston) drew the most votes in the primary among a four-candidate field but could not gain a majority. She seeks one now against runoff challenger Daphne Gallot-Knighten (DGrambling).

Separated by only four votes, District 3 candidates Marvin Franks (R-Ruston) and Nicky McCullin (R-Dubach) ousted incumbent Bobby Bennett in the primary and now face each other again in the runoff.

District 1

Q: One of the main topics for the police jury currently is managing the budget. Why do you think you’re the best candidate to help tackle that challenge next term?

Gallot-Knighten: I think I bring new ideas and a new vision. We’ve got to find ways to generate some new revenue for the parish.

Wyatt: I’ve worked with the budget for 12 years. I’m familiar with the budget, and I understand what our responsibilities are and some of the things we’ll have to reconsider in order to manage that budget. I think the police jury has done a good job in managing it.

Q: In talking with the people of your district, what have you found are their biggest concerns, and what would you do about them?

Gallot-Knighten: The maintenance and upkeep of the brush on the sides of our roads is a common complaint. The trash sites have been a major concern. And as I’ve been moving around the district, I see that to be the case.

Living in Grambling and having city trash pickup, I had a different perspective than when you go out in the rural areas of Lincoln Parish, where you have some sites, for example, that are across the street from people’s houses. That creates problems. You’ve got the litter, the stench, and the animals that dig through it.

Wyatt: One of the big concernsiswe’reoperating without policies. The people in my district don’t understand how that can be done effectively.

We need to have written policies so that services are provided not based on who you are or where you live, but on the policies.

Constituents want to know how they can get information without necessarily going through a juror or the administrator. Our policy book should be available at the library, like other resources.

Q: What do you believe sets you apart as a candidate?

Gallot-Knighten: I believe that I’m approachable. I have the constituents’ best interests at heart.

I’ve been away for a while and came back, and I’ve seen how other cities and counties have handled things. I just feel like there have to be some new avenues that we haven’t tapped yet. And I’m willing to reach out and do that.

Wyatt: I’m a people person. My community service has allowed me to work with people and understand their needs. Communication is important, and community service makes you more effective in public service. Since I communicate with people, I’m easy for them to talk to about their concerns.

District 3

Q: One of the main topics for the police jury currently is managing the budget. Why do you think you’re the best candidate to help tackle that challenge next term?

Franks: In my current job in the military, I manage a large budget. I’m very familiar with managing money and budgets and staying within it. The main thing is the same thing I tell my kids: live within your means. Don’t overspend money you don’t have.

And don’t put stuff in the budget that shouldn’t be there. I disagree with the $1 million oil and gas severance tax money being in the general fund. It should go into what the state collects it for, which is repairing roads damaged by the oil and gas industry.

So we have to fix the general budget to live within our means, and that’s going to be a humongous challenge with hard decisions that have to be made.

McCullin: I’ve lived right here in this district for 72 years. I never entertained any thoughts of being a politician, but we weren’t getting anything done that we felt like should have been done about some of our roads. I didn’t feel like we were gettingourshare of the income that was designated for the highways.

I think there might be some funds that could be used in a better place. I just felt like I could give some good input about what we needed to do.

Q: In talking with the people of your district, what have you found are their biggest concerns, and what would you do about them?

Franks: I’ve heard three major issues in the parish. The first issue from the police jury standpoint is the budget. The other two are from my constituents and across the parish: trash and roads. I would say dumpsters and trash is the number one priority from my constituents. It’s very clearly an issue.

We’ve got to get the dumpsters off the main roads: highway 146, 80, all of these major roads. They’re dangerous, too close to the road.

We need to strategically place “mini sites” about 5-8 miles apart that are lit, concreted or asphalted, with cameras. That’s the first step, and we need to tackle it with everything we’ve got.

We’ve also got to take back the roads of Lincoln Parish. We need to cut back the brush on our roads and ditches, and then come up with a better plan for bush hogging as well.

The main thing is getting all of the jurors involved in the process of finding solutions — not just letting a committee dictate.

McCullin: It’s our roads and garbage, roads first. I’ve been here a long time and traveled every road in the parish. We’ve got terrible roads in this district as a whole.

They reworked a few roads in the last few months, but I don’t understand why they did the roads they did.

One of them is a twomile road with not a house on it. I feel they could have done more good at other places than where they did.

Some of our garbage dumpster sites are really bad. I had a lot of people call me and wanted me to run to improve some of the conditions we’ve got, so that’s why I’m doing it.

Q: What do you believe sets you apart as a candidate?

Franks: I have an uncontrollable desire to solve these issues, and I have the leadership to bring people together and move this jury in a positive direction.

I’m a strategic planner — I believe in planning not just for next year, but for four, five years from now. Nothing should catch us off guard.

McCullin: I’ve been here so long that I just feel like I know the people and the district better.