Minden’s mayoral candidates respond to questions

The City of Minden has three candidates for mayor – Nick Cox, Billy Mills and Terika Williams-Walker.

Two of the three candidates responded to a Question & Answer forum submitted by the Webster Parish Journal.

All three were emailed and texted. Their answers are listed here in alphabetical order.

1. What makes you uniquely qualified to be mayor?

Cox: My years of experience as a public servant make me uniquely qualified to be Minden’s Mayor.  I have served and led many government boards across Webster Parish and the State of Louisiana. I have 7 years of experience as an elected official serving the citizens of Minden’s District 8 as a Webster Parish Police Juror.  The last 2 years I have been the Vice President of the Webster Parish Police Jury. I am currently the chairman of the Sparta Ground Water Commission, Chairman of the Webster Parish finance committee, Vice Chairman of the Webster Parish Economic Development Committee, Board member for Webster Parish Tourism and the Webster Parish Library.  I’m also an Executive Board Member for the Police Jury Association of Louisiana.  I have successfully owned, operated, and grown my company, Webster Door & Millwork. I also own and manage rental properties within the city of Minden.  Lastly, I’m as Minden as a person can be from a long line of proud Mindenites! I am thankful to call Minden home.

Mills: I have 47 years of experience in serving and helping people. This commitment of service to others is my primary attribute that makes me qualified to be the mayor of Minden. As mayor, I would be extending and focusing this commitment of service to the citizens of Minden. Minden will be my employer and I will be at their service.

Williams-Walker: Did not respond.

2. Minden has seen a steady decline in population the past couple of censuses. How would you stop it?

Cox: We are perfectly positioned to grow right now! I will use the  connections I’ve made to network with other government bodies throughout the state to make sure we get our fair share of the opportunities available to Minden that is vital for our future growth. Minden’s brick road is one of the few remaining in Louisiana. It’s not unrealistic to envision a thriving downtown whose patronage and popularity surpasses that of Ruston or Natchitoches. Our commute time to get to Barksdale Air Force Base is becoming even closer with the addition of the new Barksdale Air Force Base Interchange Project. Haughton and Ruston have also experienced growth, both residentially and economically and Minden should be no different. If the citizens and leadership will come together for the good of Minden, we will see growth like we have not experienced in a long time.

Mills: The decline in the population of Minden over the last couple of censuses is definitely a matter of concern. However I understand people leaving Minden is probably due to a vast array of reasons. I believe it should be a team effort by all the city leaders to research the reasons people are leaving and start working on solutions. As a man I cannot do it on my own, but I believe if we work together as a team, we can make a difference and turn it around. 

Williams-Walker: Did not respond.

3. What part do you intend to play in making this a cohesive, cooperative council?

Cox: I will do what I’ve done for the last 7 years, which is to be honest, fair, and be transparent in my communication.  I will communicate with the council members, listen to their opinions, do my best to understand their perspective, and treat them with the respect and fairness they deserve even if we don’t have the same viewpoints. We have much work ahead for the city of Minden, and we need to be able to work together as a team to accomplish those goals.

Mills: I intend on doing everything in my power to cultivate a cohesive and cooperative council here in Minden. The things that can be done solely by me is being a good listener, building trust among the council members and becoming a true team member myself. I want to hear their voices and draw from their wisdom and experience. The council members input is vital for every decision made and certainly vital in order to move our city forward. I would not want to do this job without their help! I will do my best to always remember that the citizens are our employer, and remind the council that the citizens of Minden are who we are all working for. We have to strive for their betterment. As a team we can make Minden a great city we will all be proud to be a part of!

Williams-Walker: Did not respond.

4. What do you see as top priority for the city and why?

Cox: The top objective for any business owner is for their business to grow. As mayor my priority should be no different, Minden needs to grow! Successful businesses create additional revenue which ensures more opportunities for all our citizens. Such as the ability to spend more on infrastructure, education, and governance.  We already have all the necessary ingredients of a great place to live and work.  We need to leverage our existing strengths and focus on affordable cost of living by working on the utility rates, job availability by creating more industry, being an attractive place to raise a family by having more events, activities, and entertainment options all in a safe environment.  I will go to work right away to have a solid plan in place for when it’s time to negotiate a new electric contract, so we know what our options are. I will collaborate with other knowledgeable leaders to try to find the citizens of Minden some relief now on the utility bills. I will also do what I can to ensure our first responders have competitive pay and the tools they need to keep us safe. 

Mills: The top priority for the city of Minden should be to strive for unity among the leadership and citizens. There is a need for healing in this city to mend the divisions among us. We all must strive to work together for a common good. That commonality is the betterment of every single individual who calls Minden their home. The old saying is still true, “united we stand, divided we fall.” When we unify and work together, then and only then we can move forward to see this great city become all it can be!

Williams-Walker: Did not respond.

5. The former mayor had several projects in the works. Will you continue them, and how do you feel about:

A. The juvenile curfew?

Cox: This curfew made a lot of Minden’s citizens very uncomfortable. On the flip side, this curfew not getting approved made a lot of citizens very unhappy. This indicates to me that the proposed ordinance needed to be reworked to find a compromise that best protects all the citizens of Minden.  I am looking forward to letting our new chief get into office, assess what the needs are, and then seeing if the curfew is recommended or if there is a better way to get a handle on juvenile crime. If possible, I want us to make policies that we can all support as a community.

Mills: First of all I’d like to applaud our former mayor for all of his hard work in making Minden a beautiful and more attractive city. Mayor Gardner had many projects in the works during his term. I would like to address my views on a few of them. Concerning a mandatory juvenile curfew, let me first ask these questions. Shouldn’t parents be responsible enough to have their children in by a decent hour every night? Isn’t it the parents obligation and responsibility to set boundaries for their children to keep them safe? Curfews are put in place to discourage lawlessness. The curfew should be the last resort if parents refuse to fulfill their parental obligations. My personal feeling is the city should never be put in a position to make that decision for parents, not to mention the time it takes away from allowing our police officers be able to do their primary job of protecting our citizens. The babysitting of  juveniles is not the job police officers should be focused on. Should we become forced to enforce a curfew due to an increase in juvenile lawlessness, then it would become our mission to do so in order to continue protecting the citizens of this city.

Williams-Walker: Did not respond.

B. The project to renovate the Minden Animal Shelter?

Cox: I have recently visited with the Minden Animal Shelter staff, and they expressed several very immediate needs.  I’m for seeking out any source of funding we can get, taking guidance from the animal shelter employees on what kind of renovations they need, and updating the animal shelter to be more functional for 2022 and beyond. Minden and Webster Parish as a whole is facing a serious issue with neglected and abandoned animals, and I’m grateful for our local shelter as well as our non-profits for all that they do to help the situation.

Mills: My wife and I are animal lovers. We have two small dogs that think they are the bosses at our house. The welfare of animals is something all “animal lovers” are passionate about and want to be a part of. A well-kept and adequate animal shelter in Minden would definitely be a plus for our city. This is a project that I would like to see completed. 

Williams-Walker: Did not respond.

C. An ordinance requiring owners of empty business buildings to sell or renovate?

Cox: We all want Minden to look its best, and it would be great if every building was occupied with a successful, flourishing business.  But that’s not our reality at the present time.  I have reviewed the ordinance and I did not find it to be a fair ordinance.  I thought it granted city hall too much control on what a property owner can or cannot do with his or her property.  Also, if a property is deemed unsafe or a public health hazard, that can be dealt with through the city’s current condemnation ordinance.

Mills: Now when it comes to empty buildings, no one likes to see them. Years of no use causes buildings to deteriorate. A house or building that is not lived in nor maintained becomes an eyesore. These buildings definitely  take away from our city’s beauty. However to “require” an owner to sell or renovate would be something that not only would require extensive legal consultation but could be expensive to the city to follow through with and then what happens? Is it then the city’s financial obligation to remodel a building that is serving no use at the time? Once again, is it the city’s job to force people to do something they should want to do on their own?

Williams-Walker: Did not respond.

The election for this and other seats is Tuesday, November 8. Please vote.

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