COLLINS, MS (WDAM) - The city of Collins will have new mayor in 2017 for the first time in nearly four decades.
Democrat Hope Magee Jones and Republican Tom Brooks are vying for the city's top job, which has been held by current mayor V.O. Smith since 1981.
Both said Smith has done monumental work for the city, and they want to continue Collins' positive growth.
"The thing that I really want to do is just to help the community to grow, help the citizens of Collins to be proud of their city," Jones said, who is a former Collins alderwoman. "So far, mayor Smith has done a great job in helping to get us in that direction, and I just want to build on that foundation, keep it going."
Brooks agreed Collins has already prepared for development, especially financially.
"Over the last few decades, we have made tremendous strides in Collins, and there's no doubt that. You can look around the town and see it for yourself, and I want to make sure that we build on those strides that we've made. I think Collins is in a uniquely good position. Not only our location is good to attract businesses, but we're also in a pretty good position financially."
Both want to build relationships with other political leaders to do things like improve schools and create jobs.
"I want to build relationships with our county and our city," Jones said. "I want to get involved with our city school system because we know that our schools are a reflection of our city. So that's one of the main aspirations and getting our youth involved."
Brooks said, "I see one of the greatest needs we have is jobs, jobs, jobs. One of my main drives is to help with economic development, to try to attract some industry, to work with the leadership in Jackson to try to make that happen."
While they said the city is in a good place, the job will come with challenges.
"What a lot of cities are facing is infrastructure, so that's one thing that probably, if anything (was a challenge), that would be the main thing," Jones said.
Brooks said being fiscally responsible and spending money to maximize benefits for Collins is the greatest challenge he sees.
"We just want to make sure that we're not wasting money and not spending it frivolously," he said. "We want to make sure we're spending it where it needs to be spent."
Jones and Brooks said they have a vested interest in the city and its people.
"I love the city of Collins," Jones said. "I will be dedicated to our citizens of Collins, and (will help build) on what has already been established."
Brooks said, "I have a business. I'm invested. It's where I live. Collins is home of some of the nicest people in the Pine Belt, and I'm proud to call it my home. I love the people here. I love the place. I love this town, and I plan on doing the best I can to serve the people of the town."
The general election is June 6.