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Thomas McGhee makes history

[/media-credit] Thomas McGhee

With his wife Mary by his side and a glass of orange juice in his hand, Thomas McGhee behaved like a man preparing for bed Aug. 2 instead of making Millington history.

As the results to the Millington city election were called into his home, McGhee was informed by his poll watcher he was the new Position 5 alderman. Which meant he was the first elected African-American to one of he post in Millington’s 112-year history.

“It truly is an honor,” McGhee said the following day. “I say that with all sincerity. Millington won. Millington the city won. I’m so proud of this city. I’m so proud to call Millington home.

“I was encouraged four years ago when I received as much support and the types of comments that were made to me by people when I knocked on their door,” he added. “They encouraged me as a black man to run. I am truly honored with being the first. There’s a lot to be proud of. I’m most proud of the city.”

McGhee’s first attempt to become an alderman was in 2008 losing to Mike Caruthers. Over the next four years McGhee received encouragement from his family, friends, supporters and church family at Little John Missionary Baptist Church in Woodstock.

On Aug. 2 McGhee and friends watched from his home the results come across his TV. Despite being projected the winner, McGhee didn’t believe it until he got the phone call.

McGhee received 1,122 votes, or 57.07 percent of the 1,966 casted for Position 5, to defeated Alderman Brett Morgan. Taking a deep breath, McGhee realized history was made.

“We were relieved truly,” he said. “The feeling was so different than it was four years ago when I had learned I had come up very close but very short.”

This time McGhee was on the victorious side. And as he slipped from his orange juice that night, the other six positions for the Board of Aldermen started to be filled.

“Very diverse, it’s the strength of our community,” he noted. “Its not very well known. We’re probably the most diverse community in all of West Tennessee. When I look at Millington, the high school, our community and the doors I knocked on, we’re very diverse. We have a pronounce presence of Native American. We have a significant community of not only blacks and whites. We have a significant community of Hispanics, of Asian American.”

McGhee said the new board will be a true reflection of Flag City with newcomers Bethany Huffman, Larry Dagen, Hank Hawkins and 20-year-old Frankie Dakin. Chris Ford and Mike Caruthers were re-elected to Positions 6 and 7, respectively.

McGhee said he is looking forward to getting to work for the city again. The past few years he has served as conflict resolution specialist, Department of the Navy certified Navy mediator, and focus group facilitator/trainer and Disability Program manager.

He added with is background he can provide an insight to the board to help increase the tax base and grow the city. McGhee said he will organize community events to reach out the residents and hear their voices.

Although he recognizes the historical impact of his election, McGhee said he is not a black alderman, he’s one of seven aldermen for the city of Millington.

“I hope I set a good example for all citizens, not just black ones and not just the ones in my family,” he concluded. “I want to be known, not just as the first black, that’s history. I want to be known as part of the change of the focus of the city that brought us closer to our true potential.”



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August 2012
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