Fulton’s Mayor Weatherford settling into new role

Itawamba County StockBy ADAM ARMOUR
Itawamba County Times

FULTON – New mayor Lynette Weatherford seemed much more comfortable heading her second city council meeting.

Her voice was more certain, her command of the room more pronounced. One month into her term of office, she’s finally starting to ease into the head seat.

“The first two weeks were crazy,” Weatherford said. She leaned forward over the desk in her new office, still sparsely decorated by personal items. She just hasn’t had a chance to make it hers quite yet.

“Those first two weeks, we were just busy with a lot of carryover work,” she continued. “But this week has been good; this week has been our best week.”

When Weatherford took over as mayor at the beginning of the month, leaving the assistant city clerk position she held for more than 20 years, it was part of what she referred to as a “big shakeup at city hall.”
Weatherford is the first new mayor the city’s seen in 12 years. Not only did she have to try to get adjusted to a new job, but she also had to help train someone to take over her position. Fellow assistant clerk Becky Wiygul left just prior to the election, so her replacement had to be trained as well.

One month into her four-year term, things are calming down for Weatherford, at least partially.

Front and center
“My experience here has helped me become familiar with the people who live here and with the way the city works,” Weatherford said, speaking of her career inside Fulton City Hall.

Having worked there for 23 years, city government isn’t exactly alien to her. She was hired at the ICDC in the late 1980s. It was there she met Jack Creely, ICDC member and mayor at the time. When a position for assistant city clerk opened in 1991, Creely encouraged her to apply. She did, got the job and has been there ever since.

For years, she’s served in that behind-the-scenes role. Now she has the chance to improve the city herself.

“I really just want to see a more efficiently run Fulton,” she said.

One of Weatherford’s primary goals as mayor is to cut spending without cutting services, refining the city’s budget until it’s as lean as it can be. It’s about making every dollar stretch as far as it can, she said, and she believes her years in city hall have put her in a good position to accomplish it.

“Working behind the scenes as long as I have, I’ve seen a lot of ways that I think we could [save money] … I’ve seen a lot of costs that could be cut,” she said. “We’re so much better off than a lot of cities our size. But we still have to be conservative; we still have to be smart with how our money is spent.”

Again, it’s all about efficiency, she said.

“We work for our citizens,” she said of the city’s employees and Fulton’s board of aldermen. “We’re going to do the best job we can to make our city better.”

Making Fulton better
“We’ve got to get out and work for it,” Weatherford said of improving the city.

Not that Fulton’s in bad shape – in fact, while other cities have struggled to keep afloat, Fulton’s done well, steadily improving both its aesthetics and infrastructure.

The new mayor said she has no plans to stop a train that’s heading in the right direction. In fact, she’d like to toss some more coal in the firebox. Weatherford said she’d love to spearhead the return of the Leadership Itawamba program (she said many of the major changes to downtown Fulton over the years were a result of that program) and the Downtown Merchants Association, both long defunct.

In the meantime, she plans to keep working closely with the Fulton Community Volunteers to improve the way the city looks.

As for herself, she plans to continue learning. Lately, she’s been building up her list of contacts, meeting fellow small-town mayors and learning all she can to do the best job she can.

“I feel like I have a lot to offer the city in this role,” she said.

adam.armour@journal.com