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Babb seeks supervisor Dist. 1 seat

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of stories featuring candidates in the Lafayette County area leading up to the November general election. We will feature those candidates in the contested county supervisor races as well as House District 12 and Senate District 9. The candidates are meeting with the EAGLE in editorial board sit-downs in the coming month.

By Alyssa Schnugg

alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com

Rickey Babb retired from his career in education after 28 years two years ago, but he says the drive to serve others is as strong as ever.

Babb is the Republican candidate running for the Supervisor District 1 seat. He will face Democrat candidate Kevin Frye and Independent candidate Brian Hyneman on Nov. 3 in the general election.

Babb, 57, served in the military, taught government and economics at Lafayette High School and served as principal at Water Valley High School.

“I’ve always worked with the public and have been civically-minded,” he told the EAGLE Tuesday.

Babb said he’d like to make being a supervisor more “hands-on” like it was years ago.

“When we moved to the unit system, we seemed to make the supervisor job more of a part-time job,” he said. “It really needs to be a full-time position and I can be a full-time supervisor.”

Being a Lafayette County native, he has seen the rapid growth the county has experienced in recent years. That growth is expected to continue and Babb said he wants to help keep the county the place he loved growing up while accommodating the area’s new residents.

“I’ve been going door-to-door and the majority of people are against any type of zoning out in the county,” he said. “When you get closer to town in the subdivisions, they have concerns about zoning but they live in an area where their subdivision has its own rules and regulations.”

Babb said he doesn’t believe the county’s growth has reached the point where serious consideration to zoning in the county is needed. He, instead, believes the focus should be on improving the infrastructure to accommodate the growth.

“With growth, you have to have the infrastructure as far as good, safe roads and bridges,” he said. “When you meet with people, they’re worried about the culverts washing out or their roads flooding. I see things every day when I’m out there that are real concerns from the people living in this county.”

Babb also believes that the county’s sheriff’s department and volunteer fire department should be fully supported by the supervisors so they can also help keep up with the county’s rapid growth.

“We need our law enforcement to be in good shape and our fire department,” Babb said. “When you see communities growing like we are, the people rely on the sheriff’s department to keep them save. We ought to have enough deputies who can make routine patrols throughout the county so when something comes up people don’t have to wait 30 or 40 minutes.”

The fire department recently requested being able to have a few full-time paid firefighters on staff to supplement the decreasing number of volunteers but the request was not brought up for a vote by the supervisors.

“I’d like to see us hire some full-time staff, at least one or two,” Babb said. ‘I’m not sure where the money would come from but it’s something I’d like to see done. As we continue to grow, we need fire protection in our county.”

Much of the county’s growth, Babb said, is people leaving the city of Oxford and seeking refuge in the quietness of the county.

“A lot of Oxford’s neighborhoods are filled with just students now,” he said. “And a lot of people are renting their homes to students inside the city and then building a new home outside of the city.”

Babb also would like to see the county seriously consider building a multiuse facility that has been mulled around by various supervisor boards for several years.

“Surrounding counties have those things and we’re sending people there instead of keeping them here,” he said. “We have the 4H club and the FFA (Future Farmers of America). I’d really like to see us building something for them and for all residents to use.”

Babb said he wants to help his fellow county residents if elected; however, he must first get elected and that takes votes, something that’s been hard for any candidate recently to get as voter turnout has been low so far this year in the primary and runoff elections.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t vote because they don’t want to be called for jury duty,” Babb said. “And people in the city feel they shouldn’t bother voting for county elections. But we all live in Lafayette County, even those who live in the city. We’re all in this together.”