Last Thursday the faces of a new era in Millington City government were identified.
When all the votes were counted on Election Night, five new aldermen were elected on the board of seven. Chris Ford and Mike Caruthers were re-elected to Positions 6 and 7, respectively.
But Positions 1-5 will be occupied by newcomers Bethany Huffman, Hank Hawkins, Frankie Dakin, Larry Dagen and Thomas McGhee.
With diverse backgrounds from a certified accountant to football coach, the five new aldermen also feature history makers. Dakin, a Rhodes college student, is the youngest alderman elected at the age of 20. And Thomas McGhee is the first black elected to one of the post.
“I want to be an alderman for all of the people,” McGhee said. “I’m not serving as a black alderman. I’m serving as an individual who wants and will do what’s best for this city and that’s to be an alderman for all.”
Just like McGhee, Dakin said his victory was not a solo effort. The youngest candidate in the field technology like social media and traditional methods like going door to door to earn enough votes to dethrone Don Lowry.
“I’m just so proud,” he said. “I’m obviously just not proud of me. I’m proud of everybody who worked so hard for me. They contributed so much. I’m really, really thankful for the city to be so open-minded and have an open heart for me.
“I was 19 years old when I started out, 20 years old when I got elected,” Dakin continued. “It’s definitely not just me. It goes to show hard work, not just mind, everybody who has put work into this. It’s time to get to work. We have our work cut out for us. We were elected to make a difference. And that’s what we have to do.”
Huffman has been working in the city for years. As part of several civic organizations and daughter of former Public Works Director Jack Huffman, Bethany has also been near the pulse of what’s happening in Flag City.
“I’m excited about the future of Millington,” she said. “I’m just honored that the citizens came out to vote. It was a wonderful turnout and they’re all looking toward the future of Millington. It’s a great opportunity for change in Millington.
“We’re moving to City Manager form of government,” Huffman continued. “We have an opportunity with many new faces to represent the true diversity of Millington. With that we have a great responsibility to make sure we speak to all the citizens as we make decisions with our schools with education and hiring a city manager. I think we all have a great responsibility and work really hard for the citizens. Because that’s what we expect from us.”
Hawkins dealt with high expectations for years when he was the head coach of the Millington Football Trojans. Now the Millington Central High School teacher will be one of seven aldermen helping to make important decisions affecting the future of his hometown.
“I’m excited and I want to thank everybody that supported me and voted for me,” he said. “I’m excited about the future of Millington. I’m ready to get to work. It looks like a pretty radical change to the Board with five new aldermen. People have spoken with their vote.
“Hopefully together the Board, Mayor and people of Millington come together and invoke some change,” Hawkins added. “We’ll get Millington heading in the right direction and spark some growth.”
The final new face on the Board of Alderman will be of Larry Dagen. Familiar to several residents from his businesses and days as a coach at the high school, Dagen avoided a runoff for Position 4 beating incumbent Jim Brown and challenger Charles P. Reed with 60 percent of the vote.
“With the looming runoff, it was definitely in my mind,” Dagen acknowledged. “I think it speaks volumes that the people had confidence in me and what I represent and might bring to the table as an alderman. I’m thankful and grateful.”
Dagen said the seven people who make up the Board of Alderman reflect the make up of Millington.
“This is a culmination of a lot of hard work,” Dagen concluded. “To see the people have voted in this fashion for dramatic changes, I think we’re poised to do some great things in Millington. There is a diversity there that didn’t exist before. I’m really proud and privileged to be a part of that change.”