AMORY – Longtime Ward 2 Alderman John Darden will end his 40-year career in politics when the next city administration takes office this summer. He originally qualified to run in the April 6 Democratic primaries but withdrew from the race shortly before the qualifying deadline ended.
“I thought I’d been there too long. I have health issues now,” he said.
Darden was first elected in 1981.
His legacy as alderman includes a building, a road and programs for people.
“We got a fire station built for West Amory, which is very important for our community,” he said.
West Amory is separated from the rest of town by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks with only one way to get under.
“Response time was a critical factor. Fire trucks can’t get around a train,” Darden said.
He reflected on other highlights during his years as alderman, which include getting a new road built near West Amory Elementary School, connecting 111th Street with Highway 278. The road was named for local black military hero, Lt. Col. Herbert Carter, Jr.
Darden recalled challenges he took on as alderman.
“It took a while to get streets paved,” he said. “It’s always a challenge to keep things up to date.”
Other challenges Darden continues to work on include getting adequate materials and equipment for education and getting citizens of his ward registered to vote.
Darden looks forward to mentoring his successor to build on the legacy he leaves.
“We need to get more industries recruited to provide more jobs for your citizens. We also need to expand our water treatment plant,” he said.
Darden’s other area of public service was education, which he served in for 41 years. His roles included teaching science courses in New Albany and at Amory Middle School. He also served as assistant principal at B.F. Ford High School in New Albany and at Amory Middle School. His former students remember him by his nickname, Doc.
Every year a Black History Month program is featured in Amory’s schools, thanks to Darden’s advocacy through the years.
He credits his father for influencing him to consider public service. Other people who played significant roles in his life include former alderman Lee Miller, educator Florence McCullen and scoutmaster Jerome Tucker.
Darden and his brother, George, were inducted into the West Amory Hall of Fame in 2012.