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By NATHAN GREGORY
Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk qualified late last week to run for re-election as a Democrat.
Sistrunk, who also serves as the vice-mayor, said she‚Äôs pleased with the progress the current board has made during its term to maximize the city‚Äôs potential going forward and wants to remain an advocate for economic development and capital improvements.
If elected for a second term, Sistrunk said she would use the knowledge she gained in her first term to push for several objectives, including protecting traditional residential neighborhoods.
‚ÄúPart of that would be ‚Ä¶ developing a plan for systematic improvement of our aging infrastructure, whether that‚Äôs streets or drainage or water areas we have issues with every day,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúIt could also take the form of developing a good-neighbor program that you would do ‚Ä¶ through student groups at Mississippi State (University) so that if renters move into a residential neighborhood they have some idea of what it is to live in a family neighborhood.‚ÄĚ
Sistrunk voiced support of the city‚Äôs decision to join the Golden Triangle Regional Development Authority ‚ÄĒ a three-county consortium between Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Clay Counties designed to attract industry that will eventually transition into the Golden Triangle Development LINK. Another objective of hers in a second term would be to push for more retail development.
‚ÄúThere are some things we can do in the economic development world. There are some things we cannot do, but we can certainly help build a community where people want to live,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúAs part of supporting economic development, we can make sure we have reasonable ordinances that are consistently enforced and lead to a better community appearance.
‚ÄúIn supporting economic development, I want to be an advocate for retail development. While the partnership we‚Äôve entered into with the LINK provides us an avenue for industrial recruitment, it‚Äôs not as focused on retail recruitment,‚ÄĚ Sistrunk added. ‚ÄúTo really be in the game of recruiting industry, you‚Äôve got to have enough of a retail base that people want to come and live in this community. We can work with (Greater Starkville Development) Partnership and local developers to try to provide the support the city can provide to advocate for retail development.‚ÄĚ
Communication between city leadership and constituents must be improved in future administrations, she said.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm sure if this board had a do-over, one of the things that we would do over is that we would communicate more with the public in various ways.
Hands down the biggest thing I want to ‚Ä¶ refine next time is to increase our communication with other groups and to continue to build relationships. We also need to focus on communicating between the city and the residents of the city in a better fashion to be more open and more transparent in what we‚Äôre doing as a government,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúMuch like anybody who takes a new job ‚Ä¶ I have learned over the last three and a half years how critical it is just to talk to people, whether it‚Äôs a fellow board member or someone in the community. It‚Äôs critical to keep those lines of communication open.‚ÄĚ