Chris Wilson, a candidate for Corinth Ward 1 alderman, has responded to questions from Corinth Today. Wilson is running against incumbent Andrew Labas. The election is Oct. 9.
Below are Wilson’s responses:
What will be your primary goals if elected to the Board of Aldermen and how will you work to accomplish those objectives?
Above all, my first concern is the safety of this community. Sadly, the small-town security I sought, after living in Memphis for several years, has become threatened by the all too common drug and violence problems that many small town communities currently face. I returned to Corinth with my family a decade ago to raise my child in the safe atmosphere of my hometown. This quiet community has been inundated with manifesting drug issues and crime since I returned. I’d like to see my hometown return to the quiet, safe place it once was. This won’t likely happen until we realize that our law enforcement officers need more support, in numbers and financially. We certainly can’t expect high recruitment and retention numbers for a job that hardly pays them enough to support a family. Budgeting our community’s spending priorities should include making its safety the number one priority, because without our police force and caring for the safety of our constituents, nothing else really matters. If you can’t be safe at home, then why make Corinth your home? We concern ourselves with appealing to tourists and attracting people to our community, but if a community becomes repeatedly recognized on the nightly news due to crime, it won’t take long to lose that appeal from outsiders. Think about it for a minute, no one wants to live in or visit an area that is notorious for crime.
Infrastructure/City Maintenance. Our roads: A handful of them, the ones in the more cosmetically noted areas of this community, are in beautiful shape. Someone even remarked, “it’s like driving on butter.” However, if you stray from those areas, the road issues become alarmingly apparent. There are roads in this community that can ruin a vehicle. During this campaign I’ve visited constituents in all corners of Ward 1. The common concern, after safety, is the neglect of roads and community maintenance as a whole. Certainly, it’s expensive to maintain roads, but what is good for one area should be good for others. If we can budget to pave a handful, then we should rightfully find ways to budget for the others. Again, prioritizing our spending can allow us to work on this issue. It can’t be alleviated overnight, but it needs, first, to be a recognized need for all streets, not just a select few.
I also had a particular group of constituents report that their homes are infested with rodents due to the overgrown areas that are the responsibility of our city to maintain. They’ve reported their issues and been told that it’s a “money” problem. This is a simple/cheap fix. It takes a person and weed eater. Again, we have to manage our priorities and value our constituents, ALL of them, not just a few.
Small business owners also need to be heard. I’d like to see our community lift some of the restrictions placed upon the people who want to live and grow, not only their families, but their businesses and their livelihood in Corinth. It doesn’t take money from the city’s pocket to hear their concerns, work with them, and make it easier for them to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. Allowing them to establish their businesses with more ease is a “win-win” for us all. If they prosper in our community, our community prospers. If our community prospers, we have more money to pay law enforcement/firemen, pave roads, and maintain this community.
What skills and experience do you have that would make you an effective alderman?
I am the first person to admit that I am NOT a politician. What I am, is a gainfully employed, tax-paying, concerned citizen of this community. This community raised me, and I chose to return here because I love home. I know that I alone cannot solve all of the challenges that face us, but I genuinely want to be a part of the problem-solving process. I want to donate my time to this community to help it become the best it can be. I do not want the salary, and should I be elected, I will donate my Alderman salary to local charitable causes each month. This is my first run for any political office, so I do not have years of experience, but what I do have is a fresh desire to help and to work for my hometown, the time to commit to this job, and the background, coming from a simple working class family, to empathize with most members of this community. My experience as a nurse has led me into the paths of people from all walks of life and has reminded me daily how fortunate I am to be in the position to help others. I want to extend my gift to help beyond my daily work environment into my community.
What are the community’s biggest challenges and advantages? How do we better overcome the challenges and more effectively utilize the city’s strengths?
The advantages this community beholds are, again, the reasons I came back here to live. Corinth is a picture-perfect community from the outside, looking in, with its historical homes, beautiful downtown, SoCo district, and hometown appeal. Our school district supersedes just about any in this state. Our medical community is nearly all-inclusive, with a variety of healthcare providers that aren’t available in many small towns. Corinth is also home to an array of festivals, markets, and family-fun events, concerts, movie nights, parades and delicious locally owned restaurants. These are all the reasons we all love our community, and these are the very attractions that keep people coming back to visit and have many coming back to stay.
The biggest challenges are the ones in which my goals as an alderman are substantiated. If we can focus on the whole community, include them all, give them our undivided attention and let them know that we plan to help them with their problems; we can gain their trust once again, and in gaining their trust, we automatically gain their support, followed by their cooperation. It takes more than just one portion of a community to make a community all that it can be.
I’ve heard that our biggest issue of all is lack of funds. If we truly have a lack of funds, then it is time for our community officials to come to the table and decide what we can cut that isn’t a “need.” Common sense tells us our “needs” should be first, followed by our “wants.” Once our community’s safety is restored, our law enforcement/firemen have more comparable salaries and our roads/properties are better managed/maintained, we can then concern ourselves with our “wants.”
What is your occupation and education background?
As I’ve mentioned, I grew up in Corinth and was a member of the first graduating class at the new Corinth High School in 1993. I then attended Northeast Mississippi Community College where I briefly played football, but then decided to focus more on my educational goals. I went on to graduate from UNA with a BSN in nursing, followed by graduating from Arkansas State University with an MSN as a certified registered nurse anesthetist. As an RN I worked mostly in critical care in Memphis and in cities such as Denver, Nashville, and Seattle as a travel nurse, before marrying and returning to Corinth 10 years ago to start my career as an anesthetist.