By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton and eight other municipal executives met Wednesday as part of Gov. Phil Bryant’s Council of Mayors, an advisory group intended to share local concerns directly with the state’s top leader.
Bryant and the mayors from throughout the state discussed how the city and state leaders can create dialogue together to strengthen local communities. This council is the first advisory group of mayors appointed by a Mississippi governor to open direct lines of communication between top of city and state government.
The mayors will identify issues affecting cities, along with needs to help them increase quality of life that can help attract more residents and encourage younger Mississippians to consider finding work in-state instead of moving elsewhere.
Shelton said the council’s task is important both for the state’s municipalities and for him as a first-term mayor.
“Relationships are important,” he said. “It gives me an opportunity to be able to meet with Governor Bryant and his staff and mayors from across the state.”
Other represented on the group include mayors from Madison, Greenville, Quitman, Crystal Springs, Gulfport, Southaven, McComb and Philadelphia.
Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler, chairwoman of the council, said the mayors and Bryant will meet again before the Mississippi Municipal League’s summer conference in late June to help formulate legislative agendas for the next legislative session. Having Bryant’s ear can help turn him into an advocate for city issues.
“He’s interested in what affects cities,” Hawkins Butler said. “We’re a sounding board for municipal government for the governor.”