The following is Watershed Voice’s candidate questionnaire for November’s Three Rivers mayoral race. We will run all completed questionnaires in the order they’re received prior to Election Day. Vernis Mims Jr. filled out our questionnaire, these are his answers.
Editor’s note: The formatting and content of this questionnaire are presented as they were submitted. Vernis Mims Jr. is challenging incumbent and longtime Three Rivers Mayor Tom Lowry.
Name: Vernis A Mims Jr
Are you an incumbent? No
Family (optional): Zoey Davis (daughter)
Navy Veteran, Business Administration Bachelor’s Degree from Mississippi University for Women (MUW), Assistant Basketball Coach Glen Oaks Community College, and 15 year resident of Three Rivers.
Many residents have expressed concern over the water in the city. How will you address Three Rivers’ water quality and cost issues if elected?
I agree with the residents on the water quality in the city. Any amount of lead in public water is no good amount. As a resident, both my daughter and I, brush our teeth daily using bottled water. This adds an extra expense to families already struggling to pay for gas and food expenses. Most of our community feels the effects physically and financially which is a major dilemma. With the help of all the local governmental commissions my ambition is to find a faster fix to the water issue. Three Rivers doesn’t need to become another Flint because our government did not continuously collaborate and come up with a solution to fix this issue in a more timely manner.
Affordable housing has been identified as a concern in Three Rivers. How will you plan to address the lack of affordable housing in the community if elected?
First, nothing can be done without the support of the commission, the City Manager and the local government as a whole. Affordable housing is a problem plaguing many communities, however “Affordable” can mean something different to each of us. Therefore, I am open to all creative and visionary suggestions.
Currently, we’re seeing a number of Allen Edwin homes being built, which is great for those able to afford a new mortgage, as this both potentially frees up rentals for those not yet ready for the home buying stage, and could also help cut housing costs for the new mortgagee as sometimes mortgages are cheaper than rent.
On the opposite side, to my knowledge, it’s been over a decade since our community has added any new apartment complexes however, so I would like to see us collaborate with smaller investors and builders to come up with a feasible solution similar to the apartments recently built in Centreville. A solution that doesn’t line the pockets of the already prosperous, but instead provides a safe place for those desperately searching.
Recent conversation has highlighted the needs of the unhoused population in the community. How will you plan to address those needs if elected?
Homelessness in America is a daunting challenge, and sadly, we have seen an uptick in our community. A few constituents have suggested solutions that could work, and although the mission is to find funding such as grants, to assist in eradicating this issue, that could take time that we don’t have.
Many community members have already heard of and formed opinions regarding the nonprofit H.O.P.E (Homeless Outreach Practiced Everyday) currently located at 2 Water St. For those of you that have not, I encourage you to not only do your research, but if moved, also lean in and do your part to help where you can.
As most of us have heard, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, the same can be said about our unhoused population. Yes, their main need may be shelter, but just like all of us, they also have smaller basic needs that we can help them meet in the meantime. With colder months quickly approaching I look forward to watching the community I know and love come together just as we have in previous years to provide warming stations, dry clothes/blankets, and a hot meal to those in need.
Other than the above, what other issues do you believe are important to address? What measures will you pursue to address those issues?
I believe it is equally important to help our current, local businesses thrive, in addition to welcoming more business opportunities, especially smaller businesses. I also believe it is important to create a centralized space for the public sector to have local recreation. However, I am aware that these plans can not be accomplished by one individual it will take a collective effort to accomplish a desirable solution for our city.
How will you know that you are accurately representing your community?
One person may have a hard time representing any community as a whole. One thing is for sure though, people love to talk! Good or bad, word of mouth has always been the fastest way of communication. There’s no doubt helping to stimulate positive change in any aspect, such as our current water issues or the housing crisis we’re facing (the two main issues verbalized to me during my campaign) will be a top priority.
Although if elected, I plan on taking notes and using those bad words as an opportunity for change, I’ll know that I’m accurately representing my community when I start hearing and seeing the majority of my community members coming together to support new ideas and initiatives.
Is there anything else your prospective constituents should know about you, your platform, your views, or your background?
I would like for my prospective constituents to know that we are all in this together. I want productive change just as much as they do. That being said, I believe it’s beneficial for community members to come to meetings at city hall or watch the live stream posted online to better learn the processes of the city so that their voices may be heard. Afterall, if you’re not a part of the solution, then you may be a part of the problem.