Vera James, Ward 1 candidate
James is a graduate of Arkansas Northeastern College (as MCCC) with an associate of applied science degree in early childhood education. She also has college hours in business management, principals of supervision and human resource management. She holds certificates in basic blue reading and basic electricity from Cotton Boll Technical Institute, and has training with the Mississippi County Literacy Council and disaster training with the American Red Cross. She has worked for Irvin Industries as a Quality Control Inspector and for Universal/Magnetex as a Quality Control Inspector, Production Supervisor, and Quality Control Supervisor. She also serves as a volunteer, teacher assistant, teacher, family service advocate and center coordinator for the Mississippi County Equal Opportunity Commission, and was a past volunteer for the Mississippi County Union Mission, the Haven, AAMOD, Main Street Blytheville, Girl Scouts, SCAN, and MidSouth Health Systems.She attends city council meetings and school board meetings, and communicates with elected officials regularly. She is currently serving as the President of Missions at New Immanuel Missionary Baptist Church, as a chaplain for Great River Medical Center, and is a member of the Blytheville Ministerial Alliance and the Delta Gateway Museum.
On Blytheville's financial situation:
I am aware of the city's current financial situation. To be honest, at this time I have not reviewed the city's financial records. I do believe with the help of God, city and county officials working together, and citizen input, we can come up with innovative ideas to improve our budgets and respond immediately to any and all discrepancies when identified. At this time, I would suggest looking at overtime hours, city code enforcement, and making sure that the tax money is used, so that citizens can see results. I believe that we can clean up our city, reduce the crime rate, improve schools, and train the unemployed to become skilled workers.
On crime reduction and law enforcement:
In order to reduce crime, it's going to take the citizens getting more involved, a better relationship between the police and the citizens, and enforcing laws that govern the city and county. Maintaining trust, honesty, and integrity.
On the responsibilities of a city council representative:
I understand that as a city council representative, I represent the people who elected me, and I am obligated to help make decisions that are in the best interest of all the people. To value the ideas and concerns that the citizens may have, bring them to the board, and find the right answer or solution for them. To attend meetings and be a voice for the citizens of Blytheville, especially those in my ward. As a council member, I will read all agenda packages, which include municipal staff reports on city projects, ordinance proposals, and zoning and land use issues.
My goal, when elected, will be growth and development: improvement in our city government, schools, streets, and for all of us to take pride in our city and talk about the good things that are here, and to find ways to improve or eliminate the negative things. In order to create a positive future for the citizens, we need to regain trust in our city leaders, provide opportunities for small businesses to succeed, create more jobs and recreational activities for youth and families, and encourage existing businesses to take surveys to determine the needs of citizens, in order to keep money here instead of going out of town.