Reed’s extensive civic engagement and leadership came long before he sought elective office, and it no doubt will continue in the years ahead. As he said in the full-page ad he took out in Sunday’s Journal, political leadership, while certainly an important chapter, was never going to be a long-term facet of his life.
What the announcement does is to clear the decks early for candidates who may wish to succeed him to start making plans for the race next spring. It also gives Reed the opportunity to commit to his remaining eight months of service as mayor without re-election politics hanging over his efforts or causing others to ascribe political motives to his actions.
In his more than three years as mayor, Reed has struck an appropriate balance in being both a cheerleader for what’s right with Tupelo while calling attention to the pressing challenges the city faces. It has been during his term that the city has finally begun to face up to the problems of neighborhood decline, middle-class migration to surrounding areas, racial tensions, school-related concerns and other issues that don’t square with Tupelo’s long-standing self-image as a community largely free of the problems of so many other cities.
Reed’s emphasis has been on harnessing the positive energy that is still abundant in Tupelo to confront these problems in the way the community has met so many challenges in its past.
Jack Reed Jr. is nothing if not an upbeat ambassador for Tupelo. But he has also provided important leadership in underscoring the reality that without bold new initiatives, the city’s record of steady progress as a healthy, prosperous and inclusive community is at risk.
He has promised in the remainder of his term to keep the focus on issues like neighborhood revitalization that are essential if Tupelo’s future is to measure up to its past success.
For too long, Tupelo coasted on its laurels. Reed has helped the city wake up to urgent realities while conveying confidence in its ability to face them. That, more than anything else, will be his legacy as mayor.