Posted on September 29, 2016.
By Bill Short
Position 5 Alderman Thomas McGhee, seeking his second term, is being challenged by Donald Holsinger in the Nov. 8 Millington city elections.
Holsinger earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in aviation management in 1979 at Southern Illinois University, a Master of Business Administration Degree in 2003 at Union University and a Master of Arts Degree in 2015 at Louisiana Baptist University. He is currently a student in the Doctor of Philosophy in Advanced Prophetics program at LBU.
He and his wife are co-owners of a successful home business selling wholefood supplements.
Holsinger served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, retiring in 1986 as a senior chief. He is a graduate of the 2012 Leadership Millington class and served on the Millington Industrial Development Board.
Elected to the Millington School Board in 2013, he served as vice chairman in 2014 and chairman in 2015.
Holsinger is a member of the First Baptist Church in Millington, where he serves as a Life Group teacher and training teacher.
He and his wife Laurel have four children and eight grandchildren.
McGhee earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in management at Park University. He is a graduate of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute in Cocoa Beach, Fla., and is certified as a master training specialist and Navy facilitator, mediator and conflict resolution professional.
He is the pastor of Little John Missionary Baptist Church, vice president of Jordan’s Lighthouse Ministries, a member of the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce and the Millington Airport Authority.
McGhee and his wife Mary have four 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?
Holsinger said all the ordinances and resolutions must be reviewed to ensure that they have a “positive effect” on all the city’s residents. He also said the board must make “focused efforts” to attract businesses and determine that the city’s regulations do not discourage them from locating here.
Above all, he said, the board must do all things with “honesty, openness and integrity.”
McGhee said ordinances that are “well-reasoned and implemented” must be consistently developed and enforced, while the city’s Zoning Ordinances and Master Plan are continually reviewed and updated, and “blighted properties” are removed.
“The de-annexation of underdeveloped areas of the city will save it much-needed funds,” he noted. “This should better position the city for future growth.”
2. List three significant issues in this election.
Both candidates cited school funding and economic growth in jobs, businesses and industry. Holsinger also listed an increased quality of living for Millington’s residents, and McGhee emphasized keeping a “steady hand” on the budget.
3. Specifically, how do you plan to deal with each of these issues if elected or re-elected?
Holsinger said the city board and school board must work together to address the capital improvement projects in the school system’s Five-Year Plan.
“The tax base does not provide adequate funds to complete the more than $20 million of projects,” he noted. “The most pressing is a new school to replace E. A. Harrold and address overflow at the Middle School.”
McGhee said he will work to “increase the value” that the city places on its children’s education by promoting parental and community involvement in it. He will also collaborate with the business community to develop “mentoring opportunities” for Millington’s students and encourage attendance at parent-teacher conferences by conducting raffles and drawings for door prizes.
Holsinger said the city board must be “aggressive” in recruiting new businesses and industries, particularly along Veterans Parkway, as well as filling the vacant buildings along Highway 51.
“The new shopping center must succeed,” he noted. “This needs to be a consolidated effort by all Millington leadership working with local and state government agencies.”
McGhee said Millington must develop an improved relationship with Naval Support Activity Mid-South that helps to promote the city as an attractive place to live, work, dine and play.
“Millington has enjoyed some success in the area of economic development,” he noted, “and this has come without raising property taxes. We must do all we can to attract, promote and retain business.”
Holsinger said the city board needs to work to improve the quality of life in Millington and create an “atmosphere” that encourages people to move here. He called the Resiliency Grant and the Discovery Nature Park “positive steps.”
“But these two projects alone will create many acres of park and recreation land that will have to be maintained,” he said, “which will require additional funding, as will the schools.”
McGhee said he will work with the city’s department directors to ensure that “mission-essential” items are included in the budget. He will also require that plans are in place for replacing and updating equipment.
“Some services that we provide through contractors are subject to market forces and are very volatile,” he noted. “Current and proposed contracts must be thoroughly vetted and determined to be the best option.”
4. What do you think is the biggest concern facing the city at this time?
Holsinger said Millington must increase its tax base to provide the funds necessary to make people want to work, play and live in the city.
“Right-size housing and quality schools must be here,” he noted, “so that incoming NSA personnel will want to live here and not go to other communities. Other challenges mean that whatever funds are available must be spent wisely and not squandered on the wrong projects.”
Calling economic development the “centerpiece” of Millington’s future, McGhee said that requires development of a qualified workforce and being a place where people are proud to be residents.
“That means removing the blight that greets people passing through or visiting our city,” he noted, “and having policies that are fair, enforced and business-friendly.”
5. What specifically makes you best qualified for the position you are seeking or seeking to retain?
Holsinger cited his background and work in management, marketing, human resources, company startup and relocation, education and as a conceptual analysis consultant. He said he understands the “needs and challenges” of the schools and the “confusing subject” of education finance, as well as the importance of commercial and retail development.
McGhee said he has spent the time required to learn and understand the policies and procedures that govern how Millington “does business.” He has also established relationships with municipal leaders from across Shelby County, the state of Tennessee and the nation that benefit the city.
“As an alderman for all,” he said, “I am beholden to no particular group. I have well-rounded life experiences that benefit me in making tough decisions.”