Tupelo leaders express optimism for future

TUPELO – Incoming and outgoing city officials expressed optimism for the new term at a municipal reception held in their honor Tuesday evening.
Attending the one-hour event at the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau were the mayor and several members of the parting City Council, as well as all recently elected council members and the mayor-elect.
Municipal department heads and other senior-level city employees also attended, enjoying light refreshments and hors d’oeuvres donated by several Tupelo businesses.
“There’s a lot of cooperative spirit in the air tonight,” said longtime city employee and interim Chief Financial Officer Kim Hanna. “I’m looking forward to working with everybody.”
Conversation among officials remained upbeat as they munched food and talked about family and politics with each other.
“I think we’re going to see positive things happening fast,” Ward 5 Councilman-elect Jonny Davis told the Daily Journal. “Right now we’re still in the honeymoon phase, but we’re all very excited about what we want to do. It’s a good group.”
Davis was elected to municipal office for the first time, as were four other new council members, including Willie Jennings of Ward 7.
Jennings said he has high hopes for the upcoming term, but its success will depend on how well the council communicates with department heads and the new mayor.
The past council was marred by frequent squabbling among its own members, as well as with Mayor Ed Neelly.
Jack Reed Jr. will replace Neelly when the new term starts July 6. Both men made brief public statements at the reception, with Neelly going first.
“This is a time to thank those who served and welcome those who were elected,” Neelly said before encouraging everyone to get to know each other.
Reed then spoke, saying he had big shoes to fill and saluting all those who will serve with him, as well as those who ran but lost.
Only two current council members – Nettie Davis of Ward 4 and Mike Bryan of Ward 6 – will return when the new term starts. All others either lost their bids for re-election, decided not to run or, in the case of the two at-large councilwomen, had their positions eliminated.
The removal of the at-large seats will shrink the council from nine members to seven.
Retiring Ward 1 Councilman Dick Hill said he’s looking forward to seeing the next council in action.
“I’ve met them, and they’re a great group of people,” he said. “I think they’re going to do well together.”

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

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

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