By Bill Short
Position 4 Alderman Larry Dagen, seeking his second term, is being challenged by Sherrie Hopper in the Nov. 8 Millington city elections.
After graduating from Millington Central High School in 1976, Dagen completed two years of college. He has been a small business owner and operator in Millington since 1989.
A 25-year member of the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce, Dagen has previously served on its Board of Directors, Executive Committee and as co-chairman of its Education Committee.
He was the 2015 recipient of the Heart & Hand Award.
A graduate of the 2013 Leadership Millington Class, Dagen served as the boys and girls head soccer coach at MCHS from 2007 until he recently retired.
He and his wife Leanna have three children.
Hopper earned both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts Degree in political science at The University of Memphis. She is employed as a high school government teacher and a university American government instructor.
She is also a community activist and host of a radio show that works to hold government accountable and promote civic engagement.
Hopper and her husband Chett have three children.
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?
Dagen recommended “continued diligence” in addressing all past, present and future ordinances and resolutions to provide the “highest possible” quality of life for Millington residents.
Hopper would advise the mayor or any other elected officials to listen to and communicate with their constituents. She said much of the “mistrust and disdain” for government could be diminished by communication with the people.
2. List three significant issues in this election.
Dagen cited taxes, the municipal schools and quality of life, while Hopper listed education, public safety and transparency.
3. Specifically, how do you plan to deal with each of these issues if elected or re-elected?
Dagen said that, with its “unique demographic,” Millington must continue to identify every opportunity for economic development and its feasibility.
“To maintain a sustainable and desirable tax base,” he noted, “we must continue to attract new businesses and developments.”
Dagen cited The Shoppes of Millington Farms, Resiliency Grant, Farmers Market Grant, Solar Farm and Crew Training International as “recent initiatives” that show “a cooperative effort” by the Millington Industrial Development Board, Chamber of Commerce, Shelby County government, the state of Tennessee and Naval Support Activity Mid-South.
He said many of those initiatives will be a “wonderful opportunity” to upgrade Millington’s parks and recreation offerings to the city’s residents and surrounding communities.
To grow and compete with other municipalities, Hopper said Millington must adequately fund its police and fire departments and offer competitive benefits to maintain “great public servants.” She noted that the city cannot rely on other departments to ensure its security.
Declaring that Millington residents need to have “easy access” to their government, Hopper said she would like to see a more “information-filled, user-friendly” Web site. She would also like to ensure that all meetings are recorded, broadcast and archived for the residents to readily access.
Dagen said he will continue to encourage a “great working relationship” between the administrations of the city and the municipal school system to meet the need to “form and maintain” the best educational opportunity for Millington’s children.
Hopper said education needs to be funded with the tax money that the voters allocated for the schools. She called the municipal school district the city’s “crown jewel” that needs to be “nurtured and cared for” as the taxpayers intended.
4. What do you think is the biggest concern facing the city at this time?
While citing fiscal responsibility, Dagen said Millington has “aged infrastructure needs” that have been and are being addressed. As examples, he listed paving, flooding, new roofs and HVAC in all municipal buildings.
Hopper said Millington needs to be a “viable” place to work and live.
“When people are stationed on the Navy base, Millington should be the top of the list,” she noted. “Instead, they are directed to look at other municipalities.”
5. What specifically makes you best qualified for the position you are seeking or seeking to retain?
Dagen said he has been, and continues to be, an “engaged and involved” resident.
“As part of a military family growing up in Millington,” he noted, “I have a deep appreciation for the importance of a community geared to raising a family in a stable, safe and progressive environment.”
Hopper said that, for years, she has been “fighting” for residents to have a “voice.”
“I am qualified,” she noted, “because I care enough to listen to the people and look at the best options for all residents, not just the business community.”