(Editor's Note: The race for mayor of Mississippi's third-largest city, Southaven and its future, was recently the topic of three candidates vying for the post. In today's edition, a look at that hotly contested race. Today's story is part of a continuing series of stories on the municipal races upcoming for the May 2 primaries and June 6 general election.)

Striding up to the microphone at the Southaven Public Library, incumbent Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite's first words delivered into the microphone were decidedly "tongue-in-cheek."

"I'm the real Southaven mayor," Musselwhite deadpanned, eliciting a few chuckles. Musselwhite was apparently referring to an opponent's web site which included the official mantle of mayor.

On a more serious note, Musselwhite reiterated that he feels his administration has restored the trust by the citizens in their government after several years of scandal under the former administration.

"In 2013, our city was in the middle of scandal, corruption and negativity. We had to walk around the media to get to work," Musselwhite said, referring to the media circus that accompanied the firestorm during the waning days of the last administration.

"On day one, I went into a difficult situation," Musselwhite said. "There was a lot of corruption in our city. I am not a politician. I am a businessman. I promised nothing to no one. I only promised to get the city out of the mess we were in."

Musselwhite said that he stopped "bid manipulation" and put a stop to "contractor inflation" in which bids were inflated.

"There are some people who no longer work for this city," added Musselwhite. "They were toxic for this city. They were part of the Greg Davis mess. We got rid of the buddy deals. You asked me to do that. I restored trust in the City of Southaven. All the vital signs are great in the City of Southaven."

James Weifenbach, who formerly ran in an unsuccessful bid for DeSoto County Sheriff, took his turn at the microphone next.

Weifenbach said he grew up in the military and has a certain directness to his approach to governing.

"When I say something, I mean what I say," Weifenbach said, adding he thought government officials in general were "out of compliance with the law." Weifenbach made reference to the U.S. Constitution and made what seemed like to many a startling assertion that the Republic was set up to "have a government where you don't need an executive branch. You don't need a mayor. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to be a mayor."

Weifenbach went on to say that he would never support a property tax increase but said in the same breath that he was an advocate for the city building a theme park.

Tommy Henley, co-owner of an industrial cleaning company, said his appearance at the forum marked his "first political speech."

"Twenty-one years ago, I started a business called Team Mobile (Team Mobile Industrial Cleaning Inc.) with a truck and a trailer," Henley said. Henley said his main challenge at that time was building a business through hard work and reinvesting in his company.

"I'm financially conservative in my business everyday," Henley said. "I will bring that kind of transparency to the city."

While Henley acknowledged that Snowden Grove was "immaculately maintained," he said other parks such as Cherry Valley Park were in need of repair and were marked by graffiti.

Henley proposed more security cameras and better streetlighting as a means of combatting increased crime. He also said the city's foreign trade zone was underutilized.

"I will push back the crime that is coming into our city," Henley said. "I will actively recruit industry in our city and I will focus on dollars not pennies."

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

(6) comments

hman
hman

OCV, basing support on appearance seems odd. Also, I don't think any of those 3 would consider that photo flattering.

One Citizen's Voice
One Citizen's Voice

Totally agree on both points hman. But appearances can be telling.....

One Citizen's Voice
One Citizen's Voice

Tommy Henley for Mayor. Musselwhite thinks the position should be his.....just look at the entitlement on his face.

Because I Can
Because I Can

Mayor Musselwhite has done a lot for the city since he took over. I've seen nothing but progress. The pennies for parks was a great thing for our city. How does Henley propose to fix the parks with no additional money to do so? Increase taxes? Henley talks about pushing back against crime, how?

One Citizen's Voice
One Citizen's Voice

Henley has built, run, and maintained a business through hard work and living within his means. If anyone's paying attention, dire economic circumstances are coming for all levels of government. When that happens, I'd rather have someone who knows how to cut costs without whining about what luxuries we're going to have to do without, and solider us through those tough economic times by getting the most bang for the buck, and yes prioritizing safety and security at the top of the list.....not parks. Henley is a grown up, not a self-inflated poser wanting to purchase his retirement off of taxpayer dole just because he's photogenic.

Because I Can
Because I Can

I'm pretty sure Mayor Musselwhite had his own business and he also puts the safety of our city first. You've not answered my questions. How does Henley propose to push back on the crime in the city? What would he do differently than the current mayor? You also seem to be obsessed with the current mayors looks, that's odd.

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