Levee board election taking place June 2

By CATHERINE KIRK CKIRK@DDTONLINE.COM,

In less than two weeks, local residents will have the chance to vote for a new Washington County Commissioner of the Mississippi Levee Board.

There are seven levee commissioners serving on the board, including two from Washington County, two from Bolivar County, one from Issaquena County, one from Sharkey County and one in Humphreys County.

This year, three of those positions are up for election, including one each in Bolivar, Issaquena and Washington counties.

Last month in Bolivar County, Katherine Crump was elected as the commissioner after Frank Brown died in March. Crump ran unopposed and was officially sworn in May 11.

In Issaquena County, Roy Nichols is running unopposed and has served on the board the past 24 years.

“In two years, we’ll have the other four up for re-election,” Nimrod said.

Two Washington County men are seeking Fred Ballard’s position on the board, including Drew Newsom and David Cochran Jr.

“We’ve got two great guys who are running. Either one of them is going to do an outstanding job for the levee board, so we’re excited we’ve got two great candidates,” Nimrod said.

Ballard is not seeking re-election for the first time since he was first elected in 1988.

After serving for 32 years, Ballard served the past 22 years as board president, the longest time for anyone to serve as president in the levee board’s history.

Reflecting on his time on the board, Ballard said he is proud of how strong the levee is.

“The levee’s in better shape than it’s ever been in,” he said. “I worked hard and enjoyed every minute of it, it was a good thing in my life.”

Ballard said he hopes to see continued efforts toward getting pumps installed.

The Yazoo Backwater Pumps is a project that was part of the original flood control plans of the levee system on the Mississippi River. The project was vetoed by the EPA years ago, but efforts are still being made to get it approved.

“I spent a lot of time trying to get these pumps, and I know they’ll keep working hard to get them,” he said.

Nimrod said the levee system has greatly improved under Ballard’s tenure.

“He’s a strong, capable, well-liked guy who always did the right thing, always pushed for flood control for the Delta, always pushed for finishing the Yazoo Backwater Pump project,” Nimrod said. “In his tenure, the levee system has endured the 2011 flood and once that flood was over, we got all our problem areas fixed with permanent solutions so now it’s easier to maintain. … He’s going to be really missed.”

The election will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 2. All registered voters are asked to vote at their regular voting precincts. The Washington County Courthouse is also open for absentee ballots.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Nimrod said they are working on ways where people can opt to vote from inside their cars if they would rather not go inside or cast an absentee ballot. Those who do go inside will have their temperature checked before entering and all poll workers will be wearing proper safety equipment, such as masks and gloves.

David Cochran Jr.

David Cochran Jr. is a farmer and lifelong resident of Washington County. He is a member of Delta Council and is currently chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Memphis Branch, and Chairman of the Board of Washington County Farm Service Agency.

Drew Newsom

A Greenville native, Drew Newsom has worked on Capitol Hill for Thad Cochran and Mitch McConnell. He has worked with the Army Corps of Engineers on a local level and in Washington, D.C.