November 18, 2016 10:49:34 AM
Parker Wiseman called the other day to say he was about to announce that he won't be running for mayor at the end of his term. Parker has served eight years and likely would have been reelected had he decided to run again.
I began working with Mayor Wiseman after the election in 2009 when he came into office as Mayor Dan Camp's successor. As the city's chief administrative officer, I was the staff member who would be working closest with this new mayor.
By Mississippi law when a new municipal administration is elected they have the option of not reappointing the department heads. You just never know how that will shake out. My first substantive interaction with the new mayor included an exchange about that reappointment and what his plans were regarding the CAO position.
He was always straightforward with me. No promises of being retained, but an honest evaluation of our possibilities of working together. That set the tone for the next four years.
I considered it a privilege to have worked with Mayor Camp, and I felt the same way about working for Mayor Wiseman and his board.
We were several world experiences and decades apart, but his openness to differences and his willingness to give us time to prove our compatibility gave me the opportunity to witness his growth into the role of mayor.
Most importantly, I learned right away Mayor Wiseman was always a man of his principles. Even if in hindsight it wasn't the best decision, he followed what he believed was the right course of action regardless whether it was deemed politically smart or not. It is hard to find fault with someone who acts on principle. Acting on principle bridges differences, builds respect and relationships and makes disagreements more easily resolved.
I am proud Starkville voters recognized that trait in Mayor Wiseman and I am proud that we can claim him as a product of our public school system and our community. It speaks well of us that he believed in Starkville. We returned that trust and support.
Mayor Wiseman has a self-deprecating sense of humor. He is a thoughtful, engaging, and genuine and wants the best for everyone. He is one of those guys, who gives trophies to all the kids just for showing up.
There are always differences of opinion between reasonable and well-intentioned people. This past term several board members have been unnecessarily unkind to the mayor. He never deserved the level of incivility directed toward him. His display of grace and forbearance under that barrage of mean-spiritedness was admirable. He is the better person for it.
As is true with most of our public servants, the citizens of Starkville owe a debt of gratitude to those who are willing to serve. Mayor Wiseman leaves a visible and positive legacy.
With his team of elected leaders from his first administration they created and approved the logistical and fiscal avenue for the new City Hall and Police Department. The Cotton Mill development project was also pushed down the road from Mayor Camp to its completion under Wiseman.
Whatever road he takes next, he can be satisfied that where he has gone before has been made better by his efforts. There is no perfect candidate, no perfect mayor and no perfect alderman, but there are those that strive to do the best they can without fanfare and self-promotion. Mayor Wiseman has been an exemplar of that.
Lynn Spruill, a former commercial airline pilot, elected official and city administrator owns and manages Spruill Property Management in Starkville. Her email address is [email protected]