STARKVILLE – Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman is ending his term this month – but the young community leader hopes this is far from the last step in his political journey.
Wiseman began his two-term stint as mayor in July of 2009, and is spending his last days in office this month.
The mayor grew up in Starkville, but neither of his parents were natives to Bulldog country.
His parents attended school at Mississippi State University and the city became home to Wiseman and his sister.
Wiseman said he was always involved in student politics growing up. He was president of the student body in high school and while attending MSU.
He was also president of the law school student body at the University of Mississippi before coming back home to Starkville.
“Running for mayor was my first venture into actual electoral politics,” Wiseman said.
Of all the projects Wiseman worked on during his time in office, the mayor said he is most proud of getting city facilities up to modern standards.
Wiseman said when he started, the city administration, municipal court and the police department were all crammed into an old armory building.
“We now have not only the space that all of our employees need to work, but it’s modern space,” Wiseman said.
Other accomplishments include a well-functioning transit system and the formation of The Mill Conference Center in partnership with MSU.
“The partnerships among those organizations have led to direct, tangible projects like that,” Wiseman said. “It’s just a way of doing business that opens so many doors.”
He said although rewarding, the new facilities were an enormous challenge.
Wiseman faced three failed bond issues in trying to build the new police station alone.
“Ultimately, we got more creative because we had to get more creative,” Wiseman said.
He said seeking help from the private sector allowed the project to become a reality.
The mayor said when times were trying, his dad remained one of his greatest role models and support systems.
“He never wanted to get directly involved in my decision making, but he’s certainly someone I would go to when I was in a jam,” Wiseman said of his father, Marty Wiseman, former executive director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government & Community Development at MSU. “He always had something wise to say.”
He said he enjoyed working with the Board of Alderman and all of the department heads.
Wiseman said he had a unique relationship with each of the board members, and he hopes to call them friends for life.
One of the fondest memories for the mayor was the opening of the new City Hall. The Mill and the new police headquarters also will be standout points in his career.
“You have years of accumulated effort, and in some cases anguish, that goes into those days and they’re special memories,” Wiseman said.
He also cherishes the memories that aren’t necessarily grand events.
“I’ve been to so many chicken dinners for community organizations,” Wiseman said with a laugh. “The people that I have an opportunity to interact with are always so appreciative that the mayor has come and participated in the program. That’s a really gratifying experience to have.”
He will miss the job hving enjoyed waking up every day with the goal of making Starkville a better place.
However, Wiseman said he is excited for mayor-elect Lynn Spruill to begin her term.
“I have never encountered anyone who I felt was more competent and all-around capable of accomplishing any task she undertakes than her,” Wiseman said.
When asked if he will enter the political sphere again, Wiseman said he believes so.
“If there’s an opportunity that fits and drives me enough to want to enter the political arena, where I know the challenges it poses, I certainly think its something I would look at in the future,” Wiseman said.
He said his family will remain in Starkville as he begins combating Medicaid fraud through the Attorney General’s office in July.
Mayor Wiseman said with young kids at home, both he and his family are looking forward to more regular hours in this next phase of life.
Wiseman will complete his term at the end of this month and mayor-elect Spruill will begin her term in July.