When I ran for mayor in 2013 I was not part of the Tupelo political establishment and after seven years as mayor, I’m still not part of that clique. I ran in 2013 and again in 2017 to make the city of Tupelo the best place possible to live, work, and raise a family. For the past seven years our team has done just that. The success of our administration is second to none. We have been awarded the highest honors by the National Civic League, Mississippi Municipal League, National Main Street Association, Southeastern Tourism Association, Mississippi Parks and Recreation association, and many others. Our team has repeatedly been battle tested and has always come out on top.
We have seen record breaking economic success and no new taxes, while managing the city’s debt in a fiscally conservative and fiscally responsible manner. We will soon submit a budget in the midst of Covid-19 that is not only balanced, but will have a small budget surplus. We will not have any new taxes and will not utilize our city’s rainy day fund even in the middle of the economic crisis facing our nation.
I am very proud of the record of our administration and will always have great pride in knowing that my tenure as mayor was one of great success for Tupelo. Even with the criticism that has been leveled toward me, I have yet to hear anyone make any valid criticism that actually pertains to job performance as mayor.
On a personal level, my wife and I are expecting our first child who is due in the coming weeks. Being able to provide for my family and spend time with our child must take center stage. It also makes me reflect on what is important in life.
We are living in an extremely tumultuous time for our Nation. We have a President that consistently fuels the flames of white nationalism and racism. We have a President that has had a criminally inept response to Covid-19, a deadly pandemic that has claimed over 150,000 American lives. We have a President with one of the most provably corrupt administrations in our Nation’s history. We have a President that has openly solicited foreign assistance in his campaigns and in the style of a despot recently floated the idea of delaying this year’s election. Our Nation’s President is a threat to our Nation itself.
Though I could perhaps remain politically popular locally by not speaking out against the President or his acolyte, Governor Reeves, I cannot in good conscience remain silent.
There is a popular country song that says “you’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything” that “you’ve got to be your own man, not a puppet on a string.”
As we anticipate our child’s birth, I cannot help but think of those in Mississippi whose parents and grandparents supported segregationist candidates. I am very proud that my family did not support those type candidates and I want my children and grandchildren to have the same pride in knowing that I fought against racism, corruption, and incompetence in Government at every level. I want my children and grandchildren to know that I did not back down from a fight because it was hard or that it cost me politically. Some things are simply worth fighting for, and there is no fight more worth fighting than the one for the future of our Nation.
As much as I love serving our great All-America City as mayor, it is more important for me to be able to sleep with a clear conscious and to fight the fight that needs to be fought at this pivotal time.
While I am willing to fight that fight, I am not willing to put our city through the ugliness of the mayoral campaign that will follow, as has already begun by ne’er-do-wells on social media.
I will forgo seeking re-election and over the next 95 days I will work diligently to help elect Joe Biden President of the United States.
As mayor, there is still work to be done and I will continue to work hard each and every day with our amazing team to accomplish great things for our city until the end of my term in July 2021.