By Bill Short
Position 3 Alderman Frankie Dakin, seeking his second term, is being challenged by Roger Taney Henderson in the Nov. 8 Millington city elections.
Dakin earned a Bachelor’s degree in political science and economics with a concentration in public policy at Rhodes College in Memphis. He is also a graduate of The University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Elected Officials Academy Level 1 and the Young Elected Officials Network Policy Academy for Energy Efficiency and Environmental Sustainability.
He is employed as manager of Strategic Partnerships at the New Memphis Institute, a non-profit that is focused on attracting, retaining and activating talent in Shelby County and Greater Memphis.
Dakin is a member of the Millington Public Library Board, the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce, a board member of Let’s Innovate Through Education, executive board member of the Young Professionals Committee of the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce and a founding member of People for the Advancement of Millington Schools.
Henderson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology in 1998 at The University of Memphis and a Master of Business Administration degree in 2003 at Union University.
He is employed as Grants Operations manager for the Shelby County Government.
Henderson is director of Development for Bridge Builders Worldwide and a member of the Downtown Church Hospitality Team.
He and his wife Dana have four children – Richard, Alex, Ella and Oliver.
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?
Calling “transparency” the “key” to success in government, Dakin said everything the mayor proposes for passage or amendment should be informed by public input and feedback. To do that, he said, Millington needs to “overhaul” how it communicates to its residents.
“Everything the city does should be adequately publicized in a way that informs our neighbors, leverages ideas and processes feedback,” he noted. “This takes targeted investment in tools that would better serve the mayor when considering what to pass.”
To keep financials “above board,” Henderson said Millington should be prepared to “cycle” its auditing firms. He also suggested that it increase public confidence by regularly publishing “key indicators” comprised of divisional goals, objectives and how the city is meeting them.
2. List three significant issues in this election.
Both candidates cited public safety and the success of the Millington municipal school system. Dakin also listed fiscal sustainability, while Henderson noted transparency of government, retaining qualified employees and an efficient workforce.
3. Specifically, how do you plan to deal with each of these issues if elected or re-elected?
Because the “fundamental role” of any city government is to provide a safe community for its residents to live, work and play, Dakin said he will work with the police and fire departments to support and retain their personnel. He will also focus on public health and drive down costs to the taxpayers.
Dakin said Millington must invest in projects that minimize the risks of disaster, which cause pain, blight and endanger safety.
Henderson said he will work to achieve certification for law enforcement that requires “community engagement” and national standards.
Dakin said the success of Millington’s schools depends on public involvement and elected leaders who understand the city’s history and the necessity to do what is best for the community.
He noted that PAMS successfully advocated for creation of the municipal school system and passage of the half-cent sales tax.
“As an alderman, I fought for those funds to stay with our schools, but was out-voted,” he recalled. “If re-elected, I will continue to fight for a school system that prepares our students for the 21st century economy and spurs the Millington economy.”
Henderson said he will request data to validate progress and that a five-year plan be made public on the school system’s Web site. Then, he said, it will be his job to vote to fully fund it.
While declaring that Millington’s financial health is the “strongest” it has been since before the “great recession,” Dakin said it cannot “settle for stability.” He noted that “strategic investments” are necessary to make the city a better place to live and encourage home ownership.
Henderson said he will establish transparency by asking questions and holding the city’s department directors accountable. He will also propose resolutions that:
(1) require a three-to-five-year comparison of revenues and expenses to be made available monthly; and
(2) make all studies and respective contractor’s responses public and easily accessible on the city’s Web site.
Henderson recalled that, in 2013, the current city board “entertained layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts” at the risk of some employees making less than $20,000, because the employee complement increased over time.
“It seems that Millington needs a smaller, better-paid workforce,” he said. “We might need to invest in automation and retrain/reallocate our resources.”
4. What do you think is the biggest concern facing the city at this time?
Dakin cited the relationship between the administrations of the city and the municipal school system. He said it is essential that the people tasked with leading those two governmental entities have the best interest of the community “at heart.”
Henderson said the “macro” concern is that Millington is not as “attractive” a place to live and operate a business as “our neighbors” to the north or the east. The “micro” concern is that the city has a “core group of really involved” residents, and he said the community at large should not be content with business as usual.
5. What specifically makes you best qualified for the position you are seeking or seeking to retain?
Dakin cited his commitment to, and record of voting for, what is “right,” as well as a “mind and heart” set on making Millington the “absolute best” it can be for its residents.
“Four years ago, I was unproven, hopeful and driven,” he recalled. “Today, I have received an education that better equips me to serve our community and have fostered relationships across the state and country to do so.”
Henderson cited his “discernment” and his 13 years of experience in Shelby County government.
“I’ve developed a knack for assessing needs, planning strategies and managing projects,” he noted. “Now, I have a greater level of discernment, having learned not to chase the dollar just because it’s available.”