By Bill Short
Position 2 Alderman Hank Hawkins, seeking his second term, is being challenged by Albert (Al) Bell in the Nov. 8 Millington city elections.
A graduate of Southwest Tennessee Community College with an Associate of Applied Science degree, Bell is also a certified paramedic and is employed as fleet supervisor at Flag City Towing in Millington.
He is a member of the Southwest Tennessee Building Officials Association, as well as a residential and commercial building inspector certified by the International Code Council.
Bell and his wife Barbara have three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A 1986 graduate of Millington Central High School, Hawkins earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1991 at Memphis State University and a Master of Arts degree in 2008 at Trevecca Nazarene University.
He is employed as a teacher in the Millington municipal school system.
Hawkins is a member of the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce, Millington Parent/Teacher Association, Highland 100 and the First United Methodist Church in Millington.
He and his wife Jenny have two sons, Carter and Jake.
Both candidates recently responded to the following questions prepared and distributed by The Millington Star:
1. What suggestions would you make to the newly elected mayor regarding ordinances or resolutions to be passed or amended?
To “help avoid any duplication,” Bell said he would recommend that all ordinances and resolutions be reviewed and discussed prior to being presented for approval.
Hawkins said he would like the mayor to give a “brief synopsis” of each ordinance and resolution that is submitted to the board, while noting any potential fiscal impact.
2. List three significant issues in this election.
Bell cited taxes, education and cutting employees’ jobs, while Hawkins listed economic growth, school funding and capital improvement projects.
3. Specifically, how do you plan to deal with each of these issues if elected or re-elected?
To avoid placing a burden on Millington’s senior citizens and retirees, Bell said the board should retain the existing tax rate and maintain the level of services provided. He also said the Chamber and the Millington Industrial Development Board should make a “strong recruiting effort” to bring industry to the city.
Bell said Millington has to maintain “a great school system.” He noted that higher education brings “numerous benefits” to cities, such as higher-paying jobs, growing tax revenues, economic activity, enhanced public safety and a better quality of life.
He said the city cannot continue to cut jobs to “cover other monetary issues” and problems.
“Retain our employees,” he urged. “They are assets and should be cross-trained to do other jobs in downtime.”
Hawkins said he will continue to “seek out and encourage” businesses and industries to locate in Millington. He will also work with the Chamber and the IDB to continue marketing the city’s “positive qualities.”
He said the city must continue to:
(1) ensure that the Millington School Board has “adequate funds” to successfully operate the schools; and
(2) strengthen the relationship that exists between the school board and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Hawkins also said the city board must continue to allocate funds for capital improvement projects that help to strengthen the “vitality and livability” of Millington.
4. What do you think is the biggest concern facing the city at this time?
Bell said public trust in government has “steadily declined” over the years, and Millington was not exempt. He noted that the residents believe they have been “left out.”
“To regain this trust,” he said, “city officials need input of the citizens to make the best decisions for the community.”
While acknowledging the “positives” that have occurred in Millington, Hawkins said the city “can and must” continue to do better. He believes that the “foundation” of any “successful and thriving city” is based on government, education and business working together as one.
“A shared vision must be established,” he noted. “And if all of us work together, the city and our residents will all benefit.”
5. What specifically makes you best qualified for the position you are seeking or seeking to retain?
Bell cited his “extensive background” and knowledge of the day-to-day operation of the city. He said he has more than 50 years of service in all areas of government, including management, fire, police, planning, economic development and construction.
Hawkins noted that his “passion and desire” to see Millington grow and prosper has never changed. Although he is “excited” about the “positive changes” that have occurred in the city, he said “much more work” needs to be done.
“I am committed to continuing to work to see Millington grow and flourish,” he said. “I hope the residents allow me to continue to serve them.”