HomeNewsOPINION: Outgoing Council members served Jackson in difficult time

OPINION: Outgoing Council members served Jackson in difficult time

Tuesday marked the final time for more than half of the Jackson City Council to take their seats for an official meeting.

David Cisco, Ross Priddy, Tara Skinner, Paul Taylor and Sam Turner are unofficially done serving the City of Jackson in this capacity as of the end of this week’s special called meeting.

But as our attention turns toward the future and the incoming council members and RESULT OF MAYOR RACE HERE, it’s appropriate to take a minute to thank those heading out the door.

One thing to mention is that of the nine members who were a part of the Council on Tuesday, six served all four years since the last municipal election.

Two members of the class of 2019 moved to other parts of the state in the last year – Earnest Brooks II and Gary Pickens – and Harvey Buchanan died in December of 2021 after more than two decades of service on the Council representing East Jackson.

Brooks also served more than two decades representing East Jackson before he got an opportunity to serve as assistant district attorney in Shelby County.

Cisco is another member of the Council that’s leaving that is taking a lot of institutional knowledge from having served for a couple of decades himself, representing North Jackson.

Priddy was appointed to the Council in 2017 after then-Councilman Scott Conger had to resign because he moved out of his district. Priddy was elected to serve again in 2019 and has been a key part of a number of crucial discussions on the budget committee and as the Council has navigated a number of large issues in the last four years.

Taylor’s ability to look at a collection of data and finding trends and his desire to make sure transparency and accountability of City funds and operations are certainly traits that the Council will miss. And the remaining members of the Council and those coming on board would do well to try to continue.

Coming out of the pandemic when municipalities were figuring out what to do and not do with ARPA funds and other money coming from the federal government, there were times when Taylor’s push to make sure Jackson’s allotment was used in the most appropriate ways was sometimes met with pushback on the Council or after many lengthy discussions of the budget committee. But his commitment to Jackson and proper use of taxpayer funds never waivered.

Tara Skinner came on board in early 2022 to fill the role left open by the death of Buchanan. She essentially stepped into the role filled by a giant of a figure in East Jackson. She should be proud of her efforts in that because she made sure if there was a question regarding East Jackson that needed to be asked in any issue, she had no problem asking it and getting answers.

Sam Turner came on board last fall to replace Gary Pickens and proved to be a good analytical mind who already knew a lot about the City because of his career at Jackson Energy Authority.

Johnny Dodd is now the elder statesman of the Council (that we can accurately state has been serving since before the turn of the century).

Russ McKelvey and Marda Wallace were first elected in 2019 and their four years of experience serving on the Council will make them to be the go-to people after Dodd to get questions answered by the rookie council members.

And Richard Donnell has been on the Council for six months, but that’s still more experience than more than half of the rest of the group. Plus his decades of service at Lane College give him a perspective and view on things that shouldn’t be overlooked even if he’s still technically in his rookie year on the Council.

The Class of 2023 has a lot to live up to with the outgoing members of the Council, and the entire group deserves plenty of gratitude from everyone in Jackson for helping navigate the pandemic, streamlining a number of City services, helping ensure City funds are more accountable to the public as well as user-friendly.

But there’s a quality foundation in place for the next Council to build on what’s been done already to make Jackson ready for what’s to come in the next four years.

Brandon Shields is the managing editor of The Jackson Post. Contact him at brandon@jacksonpost.news. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or Instagram @Editorbrandon.

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