Interest in municipal election of concern to area neighbors

The out-of-town tabloid gleefully announced this week that  “With only a little over a month left in the qualifying period, interest remains low in the upcoming New Albany municipal election.” This utter nonsense was written with great enthusiasm as their out-of-town puppeteers erroneously figure from their uninformed sources who at least spend some time here in New Albany, that over the next month, no one else will qualify for the open positions.

With the use of terms like “only a handful,” this announcement was and is designed to make people think the election is not important and is being basically ignored by those who could do something to improve our community. This, of course, benefits the incumbents in each race, but is as far from the truth as one can get.

In reality, we have eleven candidates who have qualified to run for seven elected offices with over a month left before the deadline ends qualification. That shows more than a little interest, not to mention the current discussions taking place among individuals who may announce for any one of the positions. If your main interests and activities are in Tupelo, you wouldn’t know that.

So why would even the out-of-town folks want to report incorrect or misleading information about the upcoming municipal election? Well, first of all, our great friends and partners in Northeast Mississippi benefit if the entire Board of Aldermen and the Mayor’s office stays the same. Leading voters to believe that’s what is going to happen leads right into keeping New Albany out of the development equation, showing no progress and with no chance of ever becoming a threat to the economic development plans of nearby Northeast Mississippi cities and counties.

Over just a few years, Northeast Mississippi cities and counties have hired and educated virtual experts in the areas of economic development and public administration. As a result, most of them have prospered and continue to grow at rates much higher than other areas of Mississippi. While few would disagree, most will also observe that New Albany, in particular, has not yet experienced the rather obvious progress being shown in areas all around it in Northeast Mississippi. So, again, why would that be true and why would other cities and counties be eager to keep our situation as it is?

With a disinterested, unprofessional municipal government and appointed officials, no city can compete in today’s economic environment. Yes, we have a new chain-owned drug store and a new chain-owned hardware/lumber store, both  under construction and a Toyota-affiliated business that is now on hold, but we have little else that would indicate to a visitor that this city has moved much past the last decade. While that’s not all bad, from one standpoint, the reality is that we either progress and become a city of today or we will be absorbed by those around us who are already luring growth opportunities away from us and unto themselves.

So, making New Albany voters believe their neighbors are not interested in this municipal election and satisfied with the status quo is the divisive plan of those who would not welcome a New Albany with a strong, progressive mayor, surrounded by a Board of Aldermen who understand their responsibilities and perform them. Not to mention appointed officials who actually know that they’re doing. A New Albany with this kind of leadership would be a formidable competitor in the economic/community development of Northeast Mississippi.

New Albany can be a strong player and there are some who would mislead you to keep that from happening. This election is important and your neighbors are interested and you should be too. Don’t let out-of-town detractors tell you differently.

About Chris Elkins

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