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Harper insists District 1's voice must be heard

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Aug. 18, 2003
Eddie Harper, 33, of Bailey, hopes to win the District 1 position on the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors by defeating fellow Republican Sidney Covington in the Aug. 26 runoff.
Harper is the husband of Donna Hathorn. The couple has two children. They attend Northcrest Baptist Church.
His work experience includes being owner of Harper Electric Co.; and retail business management.
Harper discussed his campaign and his plans with The Meridian Star editorial board.
The Meridian Star: Do you think there would be any difference if the board of supervisors had a woman's perspective?
Eddie Harper: No. I don't think it would make a bit of difference whether it is all men, all women, or men and women mixed. The people who are serving on the board of supervisors are there only to voice the opinion of their people.
The Star: If you are elected what's the first thing you are going to do?
Harper: The first thing I'm going to do is listen and learn. The things I think I can bring to help us operate as a board is getting together and earning the respect and trust of the other supervisors and also meeting with the city officials and the town of Marion officials to try to build a trusting relationship.
I think that will solve major conflicts between the city and the county and the town of Marion. That's where we need to start. We need to solve our own problems first and be a team before we ever approach businesses, the Legislature or anybody to get anything done.
The Star: What is the main conflict between the city, the county and Marion?
Harper: I believe too many people are still seeing city and county and Marion lines. We are all Lauderdale County. Anything that happens in Lauderdale County benefits us all, whether it's in the city or the county. For us to get over the territorial issues is first and foremost in having a good working relationship.
The Star: You've said there is potential for your opponent to have conflicts of interest as a supervisor because of her and her husband's land development company. Will you explain this again?
Harper: That is the major concern that I hear. District 1 needs to be able to voice its opinion on everything that happens in this county. I'm not saying that there will never be a conflict of interest come up with me sometime in the future, but three or four major issues that are currently facing Lauderdale County that will be voted on by either she or me are the ones we are concerned about which are flooding in Eagle Pointe, the development of a northern bypass and the interchange for the industrial park.
There will be a lot of conflicts of interest when it comes to the industrial park because of (the Covingtons) owning land beside it not just with the interchange, but anything to do with economic development at the industrial park.
The Star: You have said economic development is your top priority. How will you make an impact on that as District 1 supervisor?
Harper: Lauderdale County has not had the infrastructure in place to get the jobs we have needed in the past. I want to make sure the next person who comes to us and says we're thinking about coming to Meridian' has everything they are looking for.
All of our young folks are moving off. They go to State, Ole Miss, Southern, get educated and they do not come back to Meridian. That's the reason our population has fallen. That's the reason our population's age has gotten higher.
My No. 1 priority is to get good paying jobs in Lauderdale County that you can support a family on.
The Star: At one time the board of supervisors had a plan for needed renovation of the juvenile detention center. Do you see it as a problem and if so what would you do about it?
Harper: It has been brought to my attention recently. I think Lauderdale County's best way to raise money is going to be through local option sales tax. The Legislature needs to pass it. Our people need to vote on it. Once it's passed, I think every project we are able to use the local option sales tax for will do nothing but benefit Lauderdale County because 60 percent of money from a local option sales tax will come from outside the county and a lot of it from outside of our state.
The Star: What were you most wanting to comment on today?
Harper: The conflicts. Making sure our voice is heard on mostly every issue out there. There is a possibility that something could come up in the future that I would not be able to vote on involving an electrical inspector. But the main issues that are facing Lauderdale County right now flooding, the industrial park, a northern by-pass I can voice District 1's opinion on all of those issues. On all three of them, she would have to recuse herself. That's the main thing that we've got to get out to the people.