I am basing this campaign on a foundation of citizen input, welcoming an open discussion on all issues, in order to develop the most inclusive product. Clinton must play to all of its strengths to achieve its full potential. I believe the key to fully realizing that potential is the “5 Pillars” – Education, Economic Development, Quality of Life, Historical Preservation, and the Volunteer Spirit. After receiving community wide input about the direction of Clinton over the next 20 years, I will appoint the “5 Pillars” committee, comprised of those with interest and influence in each of these areas, to work through the details and develop the steps required to achieve our goals.
Here are my thoughts on each of the “Five Pillars of Success”:
Clinton enjoys a rich educational environment, one envied throughout the State. Parents have many options when determining the best interest of their children’s educational needs. The top rated public school system in the State. K-12 public schools, two private schools, churches with preschool programs, and home schooling opportunities laid the foundation for excellence. Highly trained teachers, dedicated administrators and involved parents challenge students to higher achievement. Mississippi College offers degrees to the PHD level and programs for continued learning/community involvement. Two excellent library facilities within the City offer an abundance of information and opportunities for learning. Clinton must continue to offer a variety of educational opportunities to grow our future leaders in all fields to take the challenges of tomorrow.
2. Economic Development
We cannot grow the tax base of Clinton on the backs of the homeowner. We must expand our business environment to include a wide range of business and industry. We must address the issue of restaurants and clothing stores, but also the location of large employers within our City limits. Clinton is blessed with ample land zoned for stand-alone restaurants and major stores. Our Industrial Park needs employers with payrolls of 250, 500 or 1,000 employees. This begins with the Mayor making visits to regional and national headquarters and talking directly with the decision makers. It also means that Clintonians must support the businesses here to stimulate overall prosperity and growth. We must work together to make the Clinton business community one that can provide for all our needs. We must also recognize the various “zones of businesses” in Clinton. While all areas of town share common interest, each area of the business community has its own unique needs – one size does not fit all. Highway 80, Clinton Boulevard, Springridge Road, Northside Drive and the Clinton Parkway require specific plans and investments to both improve and promote these areas. I will work with the business of each area to assist them with infrastructure improvements and solve the various issues each area has. Better said, to collaborate with businesses, not interfere with business. Government must promote our City’s strengths and join with business to present a unified effort to grow and profit.
To compete for the retirees and young families, Clinton must constantly improve its quality of life. This is a far – reaching term encompassing everything from parks to the arts to public safety and infrastructure. As Mayor, I will continue to build on the success of Traceway Park, while establishing neighborhood parks designed for family outings. We have a number of areas throughout Clinton to choose from and develop. For example, the Clinton Springs would make an excellent small fountain park. We must develop the arts in our community and take advantage of the talents of the Mississippi College Art Department students. Walking trails and bike trails are becoming an expectation as both the younger generation and retirees look for the amenities a community offers. As Mayor, I will connect the Natchez Trace and Butts Park with a greenway trail to encourage a healthier environment for all citizens. This trail ties the Natchez Trace biking trail under construction to Clinton allowing the biking/hiking traffic to enjoy our community. We need to increase the size of Clinton’s Police force by 15 officers in this next term – I plan to do so at a rate of 5 new sworn officers over the first 3 years – to assure the continued safety of all citizens. I will also work homeland security grants to maximize security levels and to assure all our citizens live and work in a safe environment. As Mayor, I will ensure the entire City’s infrastructure is maintained to the highest levels, including street paving, to assist in neighborhood pride. Another area of interest for me is the appearance of the egress/exit ramps of I-20 and the appearance of Highway 80. We need to landscapes both of these transportation arteries to soften the view. More importantly, we must let those traveling on I-20 or Highway 80 that they have entered a different kind of community, a welcoming community that cares about its appearance and is tells the traveler that “Clinton is Different” from other places.
4. Proud History
Every community has a proud history, but Clinton has a more robust history than most. While some communities develop large shopping centers, Clinton already has an area of interest waiting for development, Olde Towne. Working with historical preservationist and those with property/businesses in the Olde Towne area, we must promote and support this community jewel. Reclaiming the brick streets on Monroe and finding a destination business – to bring foot traffic to Olde Towne are vital to its economic life. The City and MC must work together to assure future plans are compatible with a common theme benefiting both their educational mission and the City/Olde Towne mission. In doing so, we promote both Olde Towne and Mississippi College as a shared treasure. The Clinton Springs could be another point of interest to a traveler as we build and promote it as a family park. The important work of Main Street must continue with their goals fully supported by the City. We have many historical markers throughout town that we can build upon and market. As Mayor, I will work to have Clinton’s History officially recognized and the qualified areas throughout town designated “Historical” and placed on the national registry. This step not only preserves our rich history, but also opens up tax breaks for preservation, tourist travel, and economic development.
The citizens of Clinton are its greatest asset. Their love of this community is represented by the robust number of volunteers that “make things happen” throughout Clinton. Those that volunteer in the school system and Traceway Youth Sports Associations make life long impressions on the children and help develop the future contributors of our City. Retirees volunteer to tutor, work with the Natchez Trace Visitor Center, and many other activities to assist and make everyone’s life better. Church volunteers assist in not only the upkeep of their church facility, but also participate in local and foreign missions. Volunteers with Habitat assist others in building their futures. The list goes on and on, and the support of the volunteer is the core of any successful community. The enthusiasm a volunteer brings cannot be purchased, because they bring a passion that is based on a desire to make things better. The more volunteers a community has, the stronger the community bond. We must continue to grow the Volunteer Spirit of Clinton by encouraging others to participate and recognizing their vital contribution.
Each of these “5 Pillars” interacts with each other – none stands alone. Strengthening any one of these 5 strengthens them all. Together they make our community a better place to live, grow, and prosper. For example, as we further develop our quality of life, retirees and families will come to Clinton, taking advantage of our already superior educational opportunities. Clinton businesses will profit as new businesses relocate, representing growth and building a stronger future.
We need to tell others about our community and sell Clinton as the “go to” place to raise a family. With so much to offer and look forward too, we have a great story to tell. As Mayor, I will visit all potential new businesses opportunities personally to assure they get the complete picture of our entire community. Those trips will include members of these “5 Pillars” committee so that those that work in those fields and can best represent them represent these important pillars. It is important that we give ourselves the best opportunity to expand our tax base and having experts in these areas puts our best in the room.
I believe Clinton is primed for a great future and is ready to leap into the next 20 years. We need a mayor with strategic vision set lead the City into the future. We also need a Mayor with the enthusiasm to work each day for the benefit of all in the community. Together we can accomplish anything we decide to do.