By NATHAN GREGORY
Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker qualified Tuesday to run for re-election against fellow Republican challenger David Little.
Parker currently serves on several city committees including the budget and audit, recycling and storm water review committees. He is also the board of aldermen’s liaison to the Starkville Park Commission.
Parker said stabilizing the city’s budget, adopting a storm water ordinance and authorizing a building plan for a new city hall were among accomplishments he was a part of during his first term.
“The city now has a new storm water ordinance that protects homeowners while not putting unnecessary burdens on businesses. We finally have a plan, and are almost complete with bringing water and sewer service to the annexed areas of 1998. The city has worked with developers and offered (Tax increment financing) bonds to encourage development of new areas and the redevelopment of some older areas like Middleton Market Place,” Parker said in a release. “The board finally improved the sidewalk ordinance and created zones where sidewalks must be added where they are needed and not in other areas where they serve no purpose. We started the first free curbside recycling program in the state and continue it today.”
Developing a long-term capital improvements plan is another step that had been taken during his term, he said.
“The city now has a long range plan for streets, capital improvement projects and drainage that will help us in future budgeting and applying for grants. After much discussion over the years we finally have started a long range plan for the South Montgomery (Street) corridor,” he said. “We have completed the engineering study with traffic counts and recommendations for improvements and have begun to save money in our budget to pay for the improvements in the future.”
Parker said he realized how much controversy arose from the board’s decision to use a lease-purchase funding mechanism for a new city hall and renovated police station but was confident enough in that option to cast his vote in favor.
“I can assure the residents of Ward 3 that I took this decision very seriously and, given the information that I had and the research I did, I made the best decision for the City of Starkville,” he said. “This issue has been a burden to this city for over 10 years and I felt it was time for someone to step up and solve the issue, once and for all. We will have a new city hall and police station in the next three years without any increase in our taxes.”
Parker said during his first term he and the board had fostered relationships with other area entities, including the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors and Mississippi State University, that continued to improve.
“Our population continues growing to where we are now the largest city in the Golden Triangle. Our sales tax revenues continue to grow, even during tough economic times. From an economic development standpoint, we now have partnered with the Golden Triangle (Regional Development Authority) to recruit industry to our community,” Parker said. “… We have made other key hires that will help facilitate our recruitment of the restaurant and retail businesses that are so desired and needed in the city.”
Parker said if elected for a second term, he wanted to follow through with a project to widen South Montgomery Street and a comprehensive review of city ordinances to remove whichever ones were outdated or unneeded while revising others to encourage city growth.
“I want to make sure our community development department grows into a department that is known for helping people gets things accomplished rather than hindering them,” he said. “I truly believe that the City of Starkville is on the verge of seeing unprecedented growth in industry, retail and population in the very near future and I want to use my experience of the last four years to make sure these things happen.”