One initiative, a transportation study approved by the previous administration and staffed by the current mayor and council, has moved decisively to implement reliable, limited bus service. A contract that could have buses rolling before year's end awaited action.
Other initiatives, announced at the beginning of Reed's four-year term, all have seen action:
- Make Tupelo Mississippi's healthiest city: The Mayor's Marathon, a month-long effort to encourage residents to walk a distance equal to a marathon during November, stepped off Oct. 31 with several hundred participants. If Tupelo effectively measures its shaping up it could win a $50,000 Healthy Hometown Award from Blue Cross amp& Blue Shield Foundation.
- Neighborhood improvement work has taken several key steps to organize additional neighborhood associations, including Audubon, an established development along and to the west of South Lawndale Drive.
- Tupelo as a center of lifelong learning, through the Mayor's Task Force on Education, has initiated its effort with a Read Tupelo program for 400 pre-kindergarten children participating with city leaders at BancorpSouth Arena.
- A good job for everyone needing one has started work on a long-term strategy to meet what is arguably the most difficult challenge, especially in a recession economy.
We believe the positive action in all the special task forces rises from three factors:
- Strong leadership from the mayor.
- Strong encouragement and interest from the City Council.
- Genuinely interested and knowledgeable task force leaders and members.
Once all the working task forces have completed their goals, the mayor and council should agree on other special needs and put additional citizens to work meeting those challenges, too.
Tupelo's most productive civic successes have been run by citizen volunteers:
- Major Thoroughfare Program.
- Tupelo Redevelopment Agency.
- Tupelo Airport Authority.
- Historic Preservation Commission, and many others.
City governing boards, whether aldermen or council members, can amend or reject what citizen-directed task forces do, but as a rule it's better to trust the people charged with a task, those who actually have thoroughly studied issues and chosen from a range of options.
Citizen volunteers in cities like Tupelo are the unpaid equivalent of congressional staff people: They do the research and work.
The bottom line is sharing ownership of the city's official structure and community life.