By NATHAN GREGORY
Local businessman David Little has qualified to run as a Republican for Ward 3â€™s alderman seat in this yearâ€™s municipal election.
Little, who currently manages the local district claims office of Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, is a seven-year resident of Ward 3. He has been employed by Farm Bureau for more than 24 years.
Current Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker, also a Republican, said he will announce next week whether he intends to run for a second term.
Little said if he is elected, a priority of his will be making Starkville an easier place for young families to move to.
â€ś(My family and I) built a new home in 2006 and (property taxes) gone up basically every year. It seems like each year incrementally there have been consistent tax increases. I manage 12 folks that work out of this office. Out of those 12, I have two that reside in Oktibbeha County and one who lives in the city,â€ť Little said. â€śSeveral others who live in the surrounding areas have personally told me that they could not afford to live here. There are others in the community that Iâ€™ve talked to and theyâ€™ve got the same concerns. I think affordable housing â€” when folks are looking at relocating to an area â€” thatâ€™s one of the things they look at in addition to quality of life (and) schools.â€ť
Little said the boardâ€™s recent decision to participate in an economic coalition with Lowndes and Clay Counties known as the Golden Triangle Regional Development Authority is a positive step toward promoting economic growth in Starkville.
â€śI think thatâ€™s a positive thing for the entire area â€¦ and for everybody involved. Weâ€™ve got to work in conjunction with (GTRDA). We just need to be more business friendly with those who want to come here. If weâ€™re business friendly through our zoning ordinance (the city will receive more business interest),â€ť he said. â€śOf course weâ€™ve got to have guidelines, but sometimes there are exceptions to every rule to be considered. We donâ€™t want to get the name out there that Starkville is a difficult place to locate a business.â€ť
Steering more retail businesses into Starkville has been a long-time economic need in order for the city to compete with area peers, Little said.
â€śWeâ€™ve got a lot of money here in town that could be spent here, but people are driving out of town. Theyâ€™re driving down to Dogwood and Flowood. Theyâ€™re driving to Tupelo, Birmingham, Memphis and Collierville to do their shopping,â€ť he said. â€śWe have some good stores here, but there are not a whole lot of options and thatâ€™s a lot of tax money that is leaving town and leaving the county.â€ť
Little said he would also focus on drainage and infrastructure improvements if elected.
â€śI think we need to find grants and resources that may be out there and available for the town,â€ť he said. â€śWe also need to rely on engineers to tell us about potential problem areas.â€ť
Strengthening the cityâ€™s relationship with Oktibbeha County government is also a priority of his, he said.
â€śI will work to improve working relationships between the city and Oktibbeha County governments,â€ť he said. â€śIt is important for both city and county officials to work positively along with (Mississippi State University) officials in moving our city forward. I can assure the residents of Ward 3 that, if elected, I have the commitment and work ethic to make the city of Starkville a better place to live and do business.â€ť
In general, Little said he wants to work for the benefit of Ward 3 and the city as a whole.
â€śI talked with several folks about the possibility. They were very encouraging of it and I decided to take the plunge. There are a lot of qualified people in town that could run that for whatever reason choose to stay on the sidelines. I donâ€™t want to be one of those people,â€ť he said. â€śI want to be able to give back to the community through my time and effort.â€ť
Little is married to Pattie Lowery Little. They have three children: Layton, Patton and Lake.