Greenwood Mayoral candidates share their platforms before Saturday election

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GREENWOOD, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Three candidates are running for mayor of Greenwood and they shared their goals and platforms if voted into the position this weekend.

Vencil R. Holmes, Carter L. Bedford, and current Greenwood mayor, Frank Stawasz have been getting their messages out even with the pandemic slowing things down.

Vencil R. Holmes is a father of twins who grew up in Greenwood and is currently a history school teacher at Magnolia’s School of Excellence. He’s been teaching for eight years. His grandparents were one of the first people who ever lived in Greenwood.

This is his first time running for any political office, but says he cares about the people of Greenwood, and he wants to see the impact of change made for them. He also says he decided to run for mayor when his son was hit by a car on the way to school one morning three years ago.

“That moment there just triggered something in me to open my eyes up to public safety and other issues like that,” said Holmes.

Other issues he wants to address if voted mayor is political transparency. He says a lot of residents don’t understand the abundance of opportunities that are available in Greenwood. He’s also focused on younger generations in his campaign.

“There’s a lot of younger people moving to Greenwood and I want to just see the town grow and develop. I wanted to see things like an actual Rec Center available or a Head Start. I want to see the water and sewage department to continue to grow. The current mayor’s done a great job with that, but I want to see it expand more,” said Holmes.

In his lack of experience he says he makes up for in the experience of a life in the town.

“Come talk to me to see where my head is at. I don’t think people understand I’ve been in Greenwood my whole life. I’ve witnessed a lot of things that have gone on in Greenwood, and I’ve always had a voice,” said Holmes, “Maybe not a loud one, but this is my time to be loud.”

Carter L. Bedford also lacks in political experience but says he and his wife have been living in Greenwood for more than 20 years.

He’s retired from the Caddo Parish School system, and says it was always a goal of his to get more involved in the community after working. If elected mayor, he vows to bring transparency to the office as well.

“I spent 17 years in a classroom and 25 years as a school administrator. I retired as a high school principal. I have a Master’s Degree in secondary administration, and I might be the only one running with a degree in administration,” said Bedford.

He started attending the town meetings and joined the zoning board and Greenwood Chamber of Commerce a year ago. He says there’s a number of things he would like to get done.

“I talk to the people in the community and some people want Greenwood to stay the way it is now, and I know we need some things to change. We need to grow. I think we need to grow Greenwood some, but I think it needs to be a controlled growth,” said Bedford

If elected mayor he plans to collaborate with the parish, local and state government on issues of common interest. He feels that what’s good for Caddo Parish can be good for the town of Greenwood. He’s focused on safety, improving quality of life, increasing the population, economic development and job creation.

He cites taxes not being a huge issue in the town, but noticed the increase in water and sewage taxes.

“I know it’s imperative that the town of Greenwood continue to expand its water system to provide clean, safe drinking water for the citizens as well as surrounding communities it serves.”

He plans to develop a senior citizen activity and educational center.

He feels that the town does not have enough numbers to bring a school for parents, and cites that Caddo has closed at least 7 schools with low numbers. He also says that the idea of a grocery store can be met with owners wanting to sell alcohol and residents may not want that coming into town.

Now, Frank Swawsz is the current mayor of Greenwood and has been for the last eight years. He says that he’s re-running for mayor because he still has a few plans he wants to role out for the office. One of the major issues in Greenwood then was water.

He says the water passes all of the state tests, and both water and sewage has been under neglect for years before he came into office.

He does believe economic growth will bring residential growth.

“People tell me all the time that they would like to have a grocery store. Well in order for us to have a grocery store you have to have a population that can support it,” said Stawasz, “One of the other things I hear is that we need a school. That’s a big challenge.”

Stawasz says that taking a school way is dismantling a community, but that you can’t commit millions of dollars for a school unless you have the financial backing for it. Greenwood use to have a school back in the 1960’s but they closed their doors.

“I am trying to see economic growth in Greenwood. I am not trying to develop a Youree Drive by any means. There is something about Greenwood that is kind of unique. People like the slow carefree lifestyle that you can live out here.”

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