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Real Volunteer: Ford kicks off mayoral campaign, wants to increase service to Millington

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

After arriving to their father's mayoral kickoff event, Preston and Kendall share a story with dad Chris Ford which gave him a moment of disbief. Family and friends helped Ford kickoff his 2016 Millington Mayoral campaign at Patriot Bank last week.

After arriving to their father’s mayoral kickoff event, Preston and Kendall share a story with dad Chris Ford which gave him a moment of disbief. Family and friends helped Ford kickoff his 2016 Millington Mayoral campaign at Patriot Bank last week.

Chris Ford’s progression as a leader in the Millington community took seed as his family made plans to move to the city in 1999.
Nearly two decades later and many roles of service, Ford has watched his marriage to Amy reach 22 years, children Kendall and Preston reach driving age and one of his titles in Flag City be vice mayor. Now Ford is ready to be the Mayor of Millington providing the challenge to incumbent Terry Jones.
“I came to Millington with a State Farm Agency opportunity,” Ford said. “Moved my family from East Tennessee to Millington and decided to make this my home. When I got here, I started volunteering with the Chamber and just kind of fell in love with the area, the people. I decided I would stay and just be involved.”
From the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce to Relay For Life, Ford has been a part of the Millington Fabric since 2000 with the last 9 years in the city government.
“I was looking back over my volunteering,” he said. “I got here on April 1, 2000. I actually moved here and I volunteered with the Chamber and I became an ambassador. I was elected to the Chamber Board in ’03. I became the president of the Chamber Board in ’06. I joined the Y Board in ’05 and was there for more than a dozen years.
“I was elected to fill Jim Phillips last 10 months on the Board in ’07,” he continued. “ I’ve served here ever since I’ve been here. I think I got a feel for everything. Serving with the Chamber, I’ve got an idea of what the businesses want. I think I’ve got an idea from an education side of what their needs are. I have a good relationship with Dr. Roper and his people. I’ve got a good feel being on the Alderman Board and Mayor  the last 9 years, to listen to the people and find out what our needs are.”
Ford said listening has been the key to his success in his personal life, as a State Farm Insurance agent and member of various boards.
“I think I’ve come full circle on listening to the people, volunteering and I’ve worked hard to figure out what makes Millington who we are and how we can take it to another level,” Ford said.
Ford’s introduction to Millington politics came in 2007 with the passing of then Alderman Jim Phillips. It was a honor to Ford when Phillips’ colleagues elected him as the replacement of his mentor.
“That’s hard to put into words how honored I feel those Aldermen gave me a chance,” he said. “I’m still sitting in the seat Jim Phillips occupied. That’s not lost on me. Jim Phillips got me involved in the YMCA when I first moved here.
“The history and loyalty for the people I feel here and the Board, I can’t put it into a proper contexts of how I feel to still sit in that chair and now see if I can contribute in a different role,” he added.
Since his appointment, Ford was elected twice by the residents of Millington to be the man in Position 6. And when Millington transformed over to a city manager government in 2012, Ford was elected as vice mayor.
“It’s been a nice challenge to have that title and now be able to go out into the community to promote and attend a view events,” he noted. “You welcome people to the city and I have a better understanding of what it means to represent Millington when I leave the borders going into Nashville or when I’m going to Memphis.
“Shaking people’s hands as vice mayor, asking them to give us a chance to put us on the map,” Ford continued. “It’s a humbling experience. The last four years have been very eye opening of what the mayor can and should be doing.”
Now the son of Sandy and Phil Ford is ready for the promotion of being mayor of the city he has grown to love and call home.
In building his reputation as a community leader, Ford said he has held onto the values he learned from his parents.
“Humility really, the honesty and look a person in the eye and tell them the truth,” he noted. “Don’t back away from a problem. Look a man in the face and give him an honest answer. People will appreciate an honest heart and honest answer.”
Ford saw those values and ethics take shape in his business life creating an award-winning State Farm agency. The University of Tennessee graduate said his work days have also groomed him for the role of mayor.
“How to manage finances, how to manage people’s accounts, and how to treat people with respect,” he said. “Everybody from my smallest policy holder to most wealthy policy holder, I give them the same amount of attention and respect they deserve.
“Their paying me is just like being elected,” Ford continued. “The people elected me to listen to them. Everybody should have a voice and I should at least have an ear to listen to what they are trying to tell me. We might not always agree but I think that’s where transparency gets lost on people. We should listen to everybody to at least get a proper prospective.”
Ford said in his personal life his focus is serving God and family. Sharing his Millington home with Amy, Kendall, 17, and Preston, 16, has also prepared him for a run to be mayor.
“Family is everything,” he said. “With me it is about timing, when I thought I might want to become mayor. It wasn’t until this past year I decided to take on that challenge. My family is No. 1 with me. I did not want to take away my time and effort with them.
“They have taught me just like I’m teaching them about accountability,” Ford concluded. “You treat everybody with respect and do the right thing. You look a man in the eye and make sure your yes is yes and your no is no. And be man or woman enough to stand behind it.”

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