June 8, 2009
STARKVILLE -- The city of Starkville is poised to welcome a new mayor and five new members of the Board of Aldermen next month, but the incoming leaders aren''t worried about a lack of experience in City Hall.
"A transition is never easy, but I think if you look across the board at the people who were elected, there''s a whole lot of talent and energy they bring to the table," incoming Mayor Parker Wiseman said. "The important thing when you do have new relationships being formed is that people begin to build strong, trusting relationships, because that is essential to having a good legislative process across the board."
Wiseman is a 28-year-old lawyer who completed his undergraduate work at Mississippi State University, went to law school at the University of Mississippi, and then obtained his master''s in public administration from the University of North Carolina.
"The fact of the matter is there is no school or course that can prepare you fully for the job that''s coming," Wiseman said. "I think we''re all going to be going through many of the transition challenges together. The most important thing is that everybody comes in with an open mind and is willing to do the necessary hard work to get the city moving forward."
Wiseman will be joined by new aldermen in wards 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7. The only returning aldermen will be Richard Corey in Ward 4 and Roy A. Perkins in Ward 6.
In Ward 1, Republican Ben Carver won the general election over Corey Bagwell and Helen Eaves. Carver works at the Center for Governmental Technology at Mississippi State.
The new Ward 2 representative will be Democrat Sandra Sistrunk, who defeated incumbent Rodney Lincoln in the general election. Sistrunk isn''t worried about the inexperience coming into City Hall, either.
"I think that, with the new mayor and as many new aldermen as we have, and as many other new leaders as we have in the community, at the university and other organizations, it shows that people are ready to take that next step, to become a little more progressive, to make some of those changes we''ve been talking about," Sistrunk said. "And they''re the things all of us have talked about in our vision for Starkville: smart growth; land use where people know what they can and can''t do; having things clarified and putting information out there. I think it''s just an indication that we''re ready to embrace the future."
"Everybody was new once upon a time," she added. "I think we''re all quick learners and I think we''ve all been interested and involved enough to know what kind of issues are facing us, so I think the learning curve will be short."
Ward 3 is set to welcome Eric Parker as its new alderman. Parker is a builder in Starkville and has plenty of experience dealing with development and sales.
"I feel very comfortable with all of the new people coming in," Parker said. "I feel very good about all of us working together. Even though it is a fairly young board, I think we''ve all got some really good experiences we''ve brought to the table."
The new Ward 5 alderman will be Jeremiah Dumas, an expert on planning and development at Mississippi State. Dumas also helped organize the Starkville Community Market, which is in its second year.
Henry Vaughn Sr. will represent Ward 7 after defeating incumbent Janette Self in the Democratic primary. Vaughn worked at the Sara Lee plant in West Point until it closed, and now works at Navistar Defense.
In Ward 4, Corey is set to begin his second term on the board, while in Ward 6, Perkins will begin his fifth term.
"It''s an interesting mix of people we have," Wiseman said. "Certainly, job one is looking at ways to make sure our local economy is growing as fast as it needs to be, and that is a team effort for everybody in City Hall. We are an important component of economic growth in Starkville. We just have to work together now to keep moving the city forward."
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