By Bill Short
Mayor Terry Jones, seeking his third term, is being challenged by Position 6 Alderman Chris Ford in the Nov. 8 Millington city elections.
A native of East Tennessee, Ford earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in business education at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
He moved to Millington with his family in April 2000 and became the owner of a State Farm Insurance Agency in the city.
As a member of the Millington YMCA Board of Directors from 2003-2015, Ford served as its chairman from 2005-2006 and in 2010.
He is a graduate of the 2004 Leadership Millington Class and a member of the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce. Elected to the Chamber’s Board of Directors in 2003, he served as its president in 2006.
Ford is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Coker College, the Millington Industrial Development Board and the Rotary Club.
He and his wife Amy have two children.
After the death of Position 6 Alderman Jim Phillips in 2007, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen appointed Ford to serve the remainder of his unexpired term. The city’s voters elected him to a four-year term in 2008 and re-elected him in 2012.
When Millington changed from a mayor-council to a manager-council form of government with the ratification of a new City Charter in 2012, Ford’s fellow aldermen elected him vice mayor.
A native of Truman, Ark., Jones spent more than 24 years in the Navy. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1981 from The University of Kansas, a Master of Science degree in operations management in 1995 from The University of Arkansas and has an Aviation Safety Certification from Navy Postgraduate School.
Jones became Navy Junior ROTC instructor at Millington Central High School, then went on to work for Crew Training International. He is currently the owner of a Farmers Insurance Agency in Millington.
He is a Life Underwriting Training Council Fellow with The American College and a graduate of Levels I and II of The University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service Elected Officials Academy.
Jones is a member of the Board of Directors of the Memphis Area Association of Governments, the Millington YMCA and has served on the board of the Millington Chamber.
He is also a member of the Mid-South Mayors Association, the EDGE Committee, ULI, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Richland Masonic Lodge, Al Chymia Shrine Temple, the Parent-Teacher Associations of all four Millington schools and the First Baptist Church in Millington, where he teaches Sunday School.
Jones and his wife Mary have six children and three grandchildren.
Elected an alderman in 2000, he served one term before defeating fellow alderman Richard
Hodges in a 2004 runoff election for mayor. In 2008, Hodges defeated Jones in a rematch election.
Jones was re-elected in 2012, defeating Kenneth Uselton in a hotly contested runoff race.
Both candidates recently responded to the following questions prepared and distributed by The Millington Star:
1. What is the first action you will take after you are sworn in as mayor, and why?
Ford said that, along with City Manager Ed Haley, he will initiate planning sessions with the elected officials, committees and school leadership to further develop a long-term vision for Millington’s future.
Jones said he will take the aldermen and city manager on a “retreat” to get everyone “up to date” on things that are occurring in the city. He noted that it will be a “working session” to set goals for the next four years.
2. List three significant issues in this election.
Both candidates cited the municipal school system, while Ford also listed economic growth and infrastructure needs. Jones emphasized public safety and industry.
3. Specifically, how do you plan to deal with each of these issues if elected or re-elected?
Ford said he will reassure Dr. David Roper, superintendent of the municipal school system, that the city and schools are “partners in educating our future.”
While declaring that education is on a “good foundation” with the continued support of the residents, Jones said his goal will be to “grow” the relationship between the city board and school board.
“Over the past three to four years,” he noted, “the boards have made great strides in strengthening the bond between the two. I will make every effort to continue to strengthen that bond even more.”
Ford said he will develop closer “working partnerships” with the Chamber, IDB, Millington Municipal Airport Authority, Shelby County and Tennessee leadership to discuss ways that the city can implement its “growth vision.”
He also said he will pursue the acquisition of “all necessary funds” from city and state officials, so Millington can prepare and provide for growth.
Citing the city board’s continued increase in the salaries and benefits for city employees, Jones said that is one way to encourage a “stable workforce” to ensure that all positions are filled with the most qualified people.
“We have had and continue to lose outstanding employees to other jobs,” he acknowledged. “And that is a challenge that I will continue to rectify.”
Jones also said he will continue to work with the Chamber, IDB, Airport Authority, the county, EDGE, other organizations and business leaders to bring “that one industry” to Millington that will serve as the “catalyst” for the homebuilders to resume construction in the city.
4. What do you think is the biggest concern facing the city at this time?
Ford said a lack of sustainable jobs with benefits and quality housing has caused Millington’s potential residents to seek employment outside the city and explore other real estate markets for homes.
While acknowledging that housing construction has been “stagnant for awhile,” Jones said 50 percent of Millington’s homes are rentals.
He noted that this “leads back” to the three significant issues of having an educated and available workforce, as well as a safe and financially sound community that will attract the “big box” industry to encourage new construction.
5. What specifically makes you best qualified to lead the city for the next four years?
Ford said he has worked hard to sustain good relationships with city, county and state elected officials, as well as with Roper and the school board.
“I truly believe that effective leadership is only possible when everyone shares how they can best serve our residents while promoting our city,” he noted, “and doing so in a financially sound way.”
Jones said he has spent the past four years attending meetings, networking with other municipalities and becoming acquainted with the people who can help Millington.
He also said he has made the sacrifices and met the challenges to take Millington through the transition to a city manager form of government.
And he noted that he has worked with the aldermen to get the “right people in the right places” to improve city services and make Millington a “great place to live, work and worship” for all its residents.