Being mayor means Taking Care of Business

Published 8:47 pm Thursday, August 27, 2020

Lately I’ve been having some Elvis flashbacks. Maybe it’s that time of year. The family used to make a pilgrimage to Memphis every August or so. My son still remembers riding in the car singing “Houndog” to his Sony Walkman — yes, a listening device from yesteryear.

Personally, however, I think it has more to do with the TCB/Lightning Flash logo that adorns everything at Graceland. The Late Great King of Rock and Roll was all about Taking Care of Business!

With meetings on police and recreation, work sessions on the budget and employee insurance, and strategy meetings on tourism and economic development we truly have been taking care of business at City Hall. 

This week’s BOA agenda tells the story: a new entertainment venue and district at the Natchez Depot and on the Historic Bluff (thank you John Norris and Tate Taylor); a grant application for a new Arts District on Commerce Street; a remote worker incentive program called “Shift South” and a grant application to build parking for a new large downtown employer (thank you Chandler Russ and Natchez, Inc.); new computers for the Senior Center (thank you Roy King); 2020 Census Update (thank you Mr. Robert Pernell); a new “One Stop Ticket Sales” idea for Natchez Tourism; and a grant application for a new roof at City Hall. And that’s just one meeting.

One of the items on the agenda, getting a little praise and criticism alike, is our decision to partner with Adams County and Natchez Inc. in hiring a professional lobbyist firm for our area. And I get it … why does a lobbyist (me) want to hire a lobbyist (them) to work for us?

Just re-read the list above to note that we have a lot on our plate. And much more is in the works. As the full-time Mayor of Natchez, I will indeed be our lobbyist, but I cannot possibly be a full-time lobbyist. I have a city to run.

A good leader knows when to delegate and to whom to delegate — Former U.S. Congressman Gregg Harper and his partner, Manning McPhillips, well-connected on every level, are just right for this mission.

Without a full-time advocate representing us in Jackson and in Washington, we stand to lose millions of federal and state dollars. In my years as a lobbyist, I have watched this happen. I believe this explains why southwest Mississippi lags so far behind the rest of our state.

By having expert help, the best of the best, I predict great returns for Natchez. These guys will definitely earn their keep. Sixty-thousand dollars a year (our portion of their fee) will make a lot more sense than the $90,000 we’re spending to keep up an abandoned Tire Plant. Consider their list: the tire plant cleanup, the docking facility on the river, grants for job training, Med Natchez, city drainage improvements and even improvements to Morgantown Road.

It’s time. Natchez Deserves More.

Dan Gibson is mayor of Natchez.