Outgoing Tupelo council members reflect on their tenure

TUPELO – Unless a special session is called between now and July 6, the current City Council will hold its last meeting tonight.
The nine-member board, along with outgoing Mayor Ed Neelly, have a standard set of matters before them, including approving board minutes, paying bills and approving a long-overdue Comcast Cable contract.
But they’ll also get a chance to speak their minds.
Council President Berdell Jones allotted each of his colleagues some time at the start of the meeting to “express their opinions on their past service or whatever else they want to say,” he explained during the group’s agenda review Monday at City Hall.
Seven members will not return when the new council takes office next month, but Jones said even the two returning representatives will have a chance to speak.
This past four-year term has been marked with controversy and contention, so it’s unclear what could surface during the open-mic session.
On Monday, though, members had mostly encouraging things to say.
“I considered it a real honor to serve,” said At-Large Councilwoman Doyce Deas, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor. “I learned an awful lot. It’s very complex being a council person, it’s not an easy job. You need broad perspective. I’m going to miss it.”
Her comments were echoed by Ward 5 Councilman Bill Martin, who was defeated by challenger Jonny Davis. Martin said he appreciated the opportunity to serve.
Ward 1 Councilman Dick Hill and At-Large Councilwoman Carolyn Mauldin said they hope the next mayor and council does a better job at cooperating with each other.
Said Hill, who did not seek a third term: “All the council members are good, honest people with the city’s best interests at heart. I hope the next council finds a good working relationship from the very beginning.”
Mauldin also will step down at the end of this term because the city’s two at-large positions were eliminated.
“I just hope that the new mayor and new council members find from day one a good working relationship,” she said, “because this city is a wonderful place, and it deserves cooperation to be an ever better place.”
Ward 2 Councilman Thomas Bonds said he wished he could have done more before losing his bid for a second term.
“It has been very interesting,” he said. “I worked hard to try to save the taxpayers money, because I feel like a lot of it is wasted on unnecessary city spending.”

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal