A Message from Mayor Jack Reed, Jr.
Will Rogers once remarked, “I love a dog. He does nothing for purely political reasons.” To the extent that means making decisions without regard to getting re-elected, I hope I have resembled that dog. (Some might say I have achieved that comparison in more ways than one!)
Many of us were recently inspired by the London Olympic Games. My favorite event is the one mile run. It combines speed and endurance. It’s four laps around the track. Every lap is important; but the fourth, the finishing lap, is the most important.
Another four-part sport we follow is football. There, too the fourth quarter is the most significant one; we’re all familiar with coaches and players holding up four fingers to begin the fourth quarter, reminding themselves to finish strong.
If you accept a four-year term of office as an apt analogy, the bell has rung beginning our administration’s fourth lap; our fourth quarter has begun. It is my intention to run this lap as fast and as hard as I can; along with our City Council, to continue the strides we have made promoting “The Tupelo Spirit” of progressive, inclusive, determination that lead to achievements. That spirit has always been our City’s trademark – the heartbeat that has made Tupelo different.
These accomplishments are based upon facts – not merely upon my opinion.
Fact: The City is on solid financial ground with balanced budgets (both operating and capital), with a substantial savings account, all accomplished with a smaller workforce that still provides excellent service to our citizens.
Fact: We have put in place an excellent leadership team of City department heads. Leadership matters. To use a baseball phrase, every position of your City’s leadership team is “a tough out.” They lead a team of 460 City employees. I am proud to serve alongside them all.
Fact: We have begun to put some muscle behind a 20-year-old housing and planning study that predicted blight and decay in our city core areas if we did not do some serious pruning of bad residential and commercial property.
We need to do more, but we have begun. We are seriously addressing code enforcement, and our community is looking cleaner and more attractive. This improves everyone’s property values.
Fact: We are energizing our many neighborhoods with a Mayor’s Task Force on Neighborhoods and with active Neighborhood Associations, empowering our citizens to help us make true our vision that “Every part of our town is the good part of town.”
Fact: We are completing our two major streets by making South Gloster Street and East Main Street safe roads open for business, joining work already done on North Gloster Steet and West Main Street.
Fact: We have enhanced our parks all over the City to give our citizens safe, inviting places to play, to relax, to enjoy being outside in nature with our families and friends and improving our quality of life.
Fact: After 50 years we have begun work on a new Aquatic Center that will be a major boost, both for our own citizens, and for economic development for the next 50 years. It will place Tupelo as the dominant swimming destination in the Mid-South.
Fact: We have just completed the second largest annexation in our City’s history and look forward to its strengthening our ability to grow and provide a great place to live and work for ourselves and for our children.
Fact: The Tupelo Fire Department was rated #1 in Mississippi in 2012, demonstrating our commitment to a well-trained force and a safe city.
Fact: Our Convention and Visitors Bureau was just rated #1 in the Southeastern United States and #1 in Mississippi for cities our size, demonstrating our commitment to the wise use of our taxpayer dollars. Our CVB has also recommitted to contributing significant funds to the local facilities which impact tourism, understanding that “a good place to live is a good place to visit.”
Fact: Our BancorpSouth Arena just completed its best year in its 19 year history.
Fact: Through our Safe Routes to School Plan, our Joint Use Agreement to open more school playgrounds to the public after school and on weekends, and in other ways, we are partnering with our Tupelo Public School District to press every advantage we can press to help it succeed in its own revival of excellence. Its recent rise to “High Performing” status is terrific news!
Fact: With wildflowers and daffodils, and work crews, and a tree farm of our own, we are intentionally planting Tupelo into a more beautiful city.
Fact: We have passed tax incentives to encourage private investment in Tupelo’s targeted commercial and residential neighborhoods to promote successful business and job growth.
Fact: We now have an excellent Communications Officer and a first-class City of Tupelo website (www.tupeloms.gov), letting us communicate clearly, immediately, and transparently with our citizens and prospective citizens.
Fact: We have greatly enhanced the tourist value of our world-class Elvis Presley Birthplace with our new additions to the Birthplace campus.
Fact: We have made Fairpark, “Tupelo’s Front Porch,” a place to gather together as a “cool community” for music, film, and fun for the young adults and the young-at-heart adults of our community.
Fact: With the leadership of our Mayor’s Task Force on Life-Long Learning we have renewed the Tupelo community’s pride in literacy with our Good Night Moon, Read and Rise, and Tupelo Reads programs.
Fact: With the help of a passionate citizen-led Mayor’s Task Force on Health, we accomplished one of the five visions I lifted up during my campaign only four years ago: “That Tupelo would become “The Healthiest City in Mississippi.” By winning that award this year we received the $50,000 winner’s check to further that goal. This cultural shift to healthier lifestyles will bring life-changing habits to children and adults in Tupelo for years to come.
Fact: By purchasing for the City the recreation center from the Salvation Army we have: 1) relieved the Salvation Army of a facility it no longer could afford and given it money to invest in a larger homeless shelter; 2) given the Police Athletic League a new home in the City’s core neighborhood to better house its fast growing youth program; 3) given the Tupelo Police Department a new substation in an important part of town; and 4) given the Parks and Recreation Department its first indoor sports facility. A win-win-win-win for the safety and benefit of our citizens.
Fact: Up against some of America’s top communities, in a contest of national significance, we sent 30 of our brightest and best citizens to Kansas City and won – for the fourth time – and the first time this century – the coveted “All America City Award,” bringing national recognition and honor to our city and the encouragement to keep on keeping on with our belief that “In Tupelo, what’s good enough for some of us is good enough for all of us!”
I am proud of these accomplishments that we – the City Council, our citizens, our city employees, and I – have accomplished together. It was humbling to have been elected to serve as Mayor of my hometown. I have worked hard to do my best. By this July I will have put in approximately 10,000 hours on the job.
Many days have been happy ones. There have been some disappointments. Occasionally progress seemed invisible. But I have come to work every morning committed to doing my part to represent Tupelo – this City I care deeply about – with the class and the dignity that you deserve.
I have always believed our nation should require a year of national service from every citizen for the privilege of living in this country.
I graduated from law school after the end of the Vietnam War and never served in the military. I have great respect for those who have – and still serve. I have admired those who have served in the Peace Corps and Teach for America.
When I was asked to consider running for the Mayor’s job I thought about how much this town has given me – a great place in which to grow up, to work, to raise, with Lisa, our family. Lisa and I talked; she gave her blessing; so did the rest of my family in the family business. I decided that if I could perhaps, be of service during a pivotal time in Tupelo’s history I would apply for the job of Mayor.
Four years ago this fall I offered my credentials, and the next spring, you elected me to serve. It has been an honor.
I never intended it to be a life-time career change. We have a family business in a very competitive marketplace. My family and business associates have stepped up to fill a void for a president who has been pitching in some nights and many Saturdays and Sundays. My 88-year-old father, who still comes in to work every day, says he’s “ready for some time off!” He has earned it. I love my wife – I’d like to see her more often. Our children and grandchildren live in Houston, Texas and Atlanta and I would like to give them more face-to-face time, not just Face-time.
So I do not intend to run for re-election next spring. I do intend to run this final lap of our term – the fourth quarter – as fast and as smart as I can, to leave in place established paths of action which will continue Tupelo’s progress; and I pledge to work with our City Council and our citizens to give us a Tupelo – now and in the future – that we can all be proud to call home.
And, like Will Rogers’ dog – these efforts will be based solely on what I believe is in the best interest of our City, and “not for political reasons.”
My recommendations will be candid, challenging, and encouraging. They will include a targeted, comprehensive, practical pilot plan to revitalize one neighborhood, that – once proven effective – can be replicated in other parts of town.
I am looking forward to serving these next eight months! I honestly believe that, if we keep focused on our current goals and refuse to back down from achieving them, Tupelo’s best days are still ahead of us.
Jack Reed, Jr.