By Bill Short
Jon Crisp and Don Lowry are competing for the open seat in Alderman Position 6 in the Nov. 8 Millington city elections.
Position 6 is currently occupied by Vice Mayor Chris Ford, who is running for mayor.
After graduating from Millington Central High School in 1975, Crisp enrolled in the Kemmons Wilson School of Resort and Hospitality Management at The University of Memphis. He served as an adjunct professor at the university from 2013-14.
In the spring of 2015, Crisp was recognized as the Shila Bowron Red Diamond Leadership Series speaker at The University of Alabama.
As a certified hotel administrator, he is employed with Page Properties LLC.
Crisp is president-elect of the Millington Rotary Club, a member of the Millington YMCA Board and an adviser to the Mississippi River Corridor Tennessee Board.
From 2012-13, he was a member of the Shelby County Joint Economic and Community Development Board. He is also a former chairman of The Shelby County Chambers of Commerce Alliance and the “Save Shelby Now” group, which opposed city/county consolidation.
Crisp and his wife Lee Anne have five children.
A 1983 graduate of Memphis State University with a degree in business management, Lowry is managing partner of Smith Investments Commodore Villages.
He is a former member of the Millington Lions Club and Jaycees, as well as the Millington Regional Airport Authority, where he served as its chairman from 2008-13. He has been a member of the U.S. Navy League since 1992.
As a member of the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce since 1980, Lowry served as its president in 1998 and was the recipient of its Person of the Year Award that same year.
He is a graduate of the 1998 Leadership Millington Class and The University of Tennessee’s Elected Officials Academy in 2005. As a member of the First United Methodist Church in Millington, he has served as chairman of its Finance and Staff Parish committees.
Lowry and his wife Diane have four children and nine grandchildren.
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?
Because he believes Millington’s “best days are ahead,” Crisp said its “traditions” must be honored and respected, while working hard to make the city a “preferred place” to live, work and play.
“We ought to set short- and long-term goals for our city that can be clearly articulated to the greater community,” he noted. “We ought to develop a consensus ‘Vision’ for Millington by being transparent about our priorities and what we hope to accomplish.”
Lowry said the city board should continue to examine all zoning and land-use issues surrounding Millington and its Reserve Annexation Areas for the effect of Interstate 69 and potential growth.
“Examine sign ordinances and building codes to make sure our community is considered business-friendly and community-smart,” he noted, “while planning for Millington’s future, short- and long-term needs, growth and direction.”
2. List three significant issues in this election.
Both candidates cited continued improvement of the schools, while Crisp also listed infrastructure improvement and growing the city in a “quality way.” Lowry also emphasized taxes/fees, the economy and better salaries for city employees.
3. Specifically, how do you plan to deal with each of these issues if elected?
Crisp said he will work with the school board to help implement its recommendations, while monitoring the progress in the “key concentration subjects” for which tests are administered.
He said it is important that public servants are “accountable” for maintaining the progress toward “positive results.”
Lowry said good schools are “imperative” for future growth.
“They must be funded properly,” he noted, “and we must work with the school board to improve facilities and academic scores.”
Crisp thinks public hearings focused on infrastructure issues should be scheduled quarterly throughout the community.
Because residents have expressed concerns about roadway paving, storm water mitigation, water quality and pressure issues, he wants to help generate “discussion and consensus” about what the priorities should be.
Crisp said he was “instrumental” in bringing the Tax Incremental Financing option to the “forefront” and the attention of Shelby County Commission Chairman Terry Roland. Citing his experience in “community planning areas,” Crisp said he worked on part of the Master Plan for the growth of Nashville.
“In the end,” he noted, “it is most important that we generate demand from those seeking to locate their families or businesses here.”
To attract new residential and commercial development, Lowry said, the board must work to keep the city’s taxes and fees as low as possible while providing “great services with reasonable cost.”
He also cited the need to recruit “industry and rooftops” for new jobs, while marketing Millington’s assets to entice individuals to spend dollars in the city.
“More housing choices and commercial development bring jobs and people,” he noted. “More jobs, quality housing and people visiting or living in your community equal more tax dollars without raising local taxes or fees.”
4. What do you think is the biggest concern facing the city at this time?
Lowry cited “financial uncertainties” confronting the nation and state, which he said directly affect Millington’s fiscal future.
While emphasizing the city’s need to focus on its future in a “planned way,” Crisp cited I-69 as an example. When it is completed, he said, a “story” will be written about Millington.
People will say, “Get off and visit,” because it is “a pretty nice place.” Or they will say something “less flattering” if the city does not increase its effort to ensure that it “boldly confronts” its future.
“We are writing this story ourselves at this moment,” he noted. “And I want to be a contributor to making Millington a great place to live, work and play.”
5. What specifically makes you best qualified for the position you are seeking?
As a native of Millington, Crisp said he understands its traditions and what makes it special.
“I fought to preserve our independence when I led the fight against Shelby County consolidated metropolitan government,” he recalled. “I know what other fast-growing communities did to prosper, because I helped lead them.”
Lowry cited his degree in business management, 30 years of managing a successful business in Millington, 12 years of experience as an alderman, continuing education programs and raising his family in the community. He said it is important to him that Millington is the “best city it can be.”