by Ethan Van Sice
It’s a small town, I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors…
It’s all 100%, undeniably true. In a few months, you’ll have yourself a brand new Mayor.
As August’s primary election continues to creep forward—inevitably placing the first, fresh pair of mayoral legs between those dually-interpreted, “frosty” halls at 108 Water St. in over half a decade—the people of Camden will surely consume themselves with the same ole’ laundry list of unanswered questions and neglected concerns, those hard-pressing trepidations that have been on their minds for years. Thoughts in need of immediate relief. Thoughts such as:
“Think it’ll rain on Sunday?”
“Reckon those Wildcats can snag the Division again?”
“Wonder how many miles I can get outta’ these tires…” etc. etc.
Wake up…New. Mayor. Just a few lines up… You mayor may not have missed it, but it’s clearer now that I’ve pundit.
I’m not trying to offend anyone. I just want everyone to realize: you’ve been given the perfect opportunity to be excited. It’s time for some optimism.
Now I know what you’re thinking… “What difference would it make? Can we expect any change at all? Apart from that 1963 penny still being kicked around Claiborne Street?” Yes, there’s much to be excited about…. I urge all of you to vote for whichever candidate makes the importation of business and industry their main platform. I have it on good authority that not just one, but multiple businesses are interested in opening up shop in Camden, all it’s going to take is 1) some community support, and 2) cooperation from our elected officials.
Camden is a beautifully historic town with HUGE potential, and I recognize how much we have to offer with our wealth of natural resources, agricultural space, and small-town hospitality. It’s the ideal environment for a variety of transport residents and business owners alike–all we need is the leadership to fuel the cogs.
It’s been documented. People WANT to come here. They want to LIVE here, and they want to open BUSINESSES here, because they see what our elected officials, our development directors, and our chamber members try to ignore. But for any of these wonderful things to happen, the public has to WANT change. And unfortunately, a lot of us want to keep things the way they are. For some reason.
I KNOW what Camden could be. I’ve witnessed an unlikely transformation in my own hometown of Madison, MS. I’d be happy to provide some historical literature of the town, but in short I can say that, just 25 years ago, Madison was in every way IDENTICAL to downtown Camden. Just a few concrete structures, 2 traffic lights, quaint, yet friendly… And it was all surrounded by acre upon acre of open farmland, fields, and lakes. Nothing more.
But then, an admirable lady named Mary Hawkins Butler was elected as Mayor, and things suddenly began to change. Someone had to come in and emphasize the aesthetic benefits of a small town, and it was that cognizance that made all the difference. Soon, new gas stations were popping up, building codes were established (all brick, google it!), parks were installed, neighborhoods were built, restaurants transported from the Jackson underground to the Madison suburb, a Walmart was built, followed by a movie theatre (the largest, most profitable in the state) , then an entire outlet shopping mall.
Today, Madison County is known the wealthiest, most educated (public and private schools) most populationally-dense, non-metropolitan area in MS. It was nationally ranked by one website as one of the top 10 best towns to grow up in. The crime-rate is so small that it’s literally indistinguishable from a marginal error. And I’m telling you, just around 25 years ago, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between it and Camden.
My mother will attest to this; it’s why she moved there before giving birth to me: because it reminded her of her own hometown. Anyway, I’ve said all that to say this: I believe you can do GREAT things for this town. I trust in you, Camden. If we VOTE SMART, we can apply the same aesthetic, community-oriented, law-abiding policies to Camden as Mayor Hawkins did for Madison.we’ll erase all this negative publicity that Wilcox is reaping, yet never sowed nor deserved. It’s time to start a new chapter…