JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Singing River Health System retirees are hoping Tuesday's election shakeup in the Jackson County Supervisors' races will increase transparency and help them win the pension battle they've been fighting since last year. Two supervisors are out, and two others will have to fight to keep their seats in runoffs.
"The people put you in office, and the people have a right to take you out of office," said retiree Willie Chestnut.
Chestnut and his fellow SRHS retirees admit they were on a mission to replace most of the Jackson County Supervisors. Now that two, longtime supervisor John McKay and Mike Mangum, were voted out, they want the new faces who join the board to help the health system find some way to fully fund their pension that's underfunded by more than $130 million.
"We just want someone to listen to us, investigate this. There is no problem that can't be solved," retiree Irby Tillman said.
Kitty Aguilar hopes the new board members will be more transparent with their constituents.
"They shouldn't be afraid of the public, and I feel like these board of supervisors we have are afraid," said Aguilar.
Chestnut agrees, change is a must. He said during board meetings, the public comment period would be cut short or taken off the agenda, but supervisors didn't mind spending hours in executive session.
"You know, they go in there way too long, and then when they come, they come out with some stuff that doesn't even make sense. They come out with ideas on ways they can spend money to solve problems, and they didn't solve it with first executive session," Chestnut said.
Board President Barry Cumbest and District 4 Supervisor Troy Ross survived the election ax for now, but they will have to get ready for round two in just a few weeks.
"The ones that are in the runoffs, they should hear the footsteps of the people. They better listen and maybe next Monday, the 10th, when they have a board meeting, they will treat the seniors, the retirees, a little bit different," said Tillman.
Still, more than 200 affidavit ballots have to be counted that could affect the outcome of the District 4 race between incumbent Troy Ross and former supervisor Tommy Brodnax.
Melton Harris was the only supervisor who won Tuesday's election, keeping his District 2 seat.