Don Lewis served as director of Tupelo Parks and Recreation for a dozen years and served in other positions in the city department since 1997. Last week, the Tupelo City Council approved Mayor Jason Shelton’s nomination of Lewis as chief operations officer. Daily Journal reporter Robbie Ward asked Lewis about his new position.
Q: You’ve spent much of your career with the Tupelo Parks & Recreation. How will your experience in that city department influence your work as COO?
A: As the director of Tupelo Parks and Recreation you work with parent groups and neighborhood associations. In Tupelo we have 13 associations that work with our department and a Park Advisory Board. You have a lot of opportunities for problem-solving. Parks and Rec over the past 10 years has been very fortunate to have ongoing major capital projects. This experience will help me throughout the city.
Q: The position of COO requires working with many people to achieve goals on behalf of the mayor. How do you describe your management style?
A: My management style is very simple. We have well-qualified people in place. I expect them to do their job. I will be there to help them and provide assistance if needed to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed. The success or failures of the city of Tupelo rest on the shoulders of our people and I will look for their support and suggestions to provide residents of Tupelo with the best qualified workforce available.
Q: What goals/vision do you bring to this position?
A: My goals and visions will mirror the mayor and City Council. I see my job as carrying out the mission that I am given. That does not mean that I plan to be a “yes man.”
I will give advice when needed but for the most part I will work with the elected officials, our employees and the citizens to continue to make Tupelo a great place to live and work.