Serious choices face New Albany voters

Johnny Anderson NEMiss.News
Ward Two's Johnny Anderson, leaving the City Board after six terms.
April 5th, 2021     Featured News Opinion


One of the most important names related to tomorrow’s municipal elections in New Albany is one that will not be on the ballot.

Johnny Anderson, who served six terms on the New Albany Board of Aldermen, decided not to run this year. During the 20 years I have been a regular observer of the New Albany board, Anderson has been the steady, wise leader.

Anderson understood the work of every city department; he knew the details and personnel.

Nobody knows the city budget, line by line, better than Johnny Anderson.

He served with four mayors – Tom Cooper, Walter Johnson, Billy Wiseman and Tim Kent. Low key, even tempered and knowledgeable, he worked with all of them. If he disagreed with mayors or other aldermen, it was never showy or confrontational. Quiet, rational, collegial: that is the Johnny Anderson style.

I don’t know any of the candidates running in the primaries to win Johnny Anderson’s Ward Two seat, so have no recommendations.

Serious choices for all alderman seats, mayor’s office

In addition to Anderson’s Ward Two seat, the First Ward seat is also open. This means that  there will be at least two brand new aldermen.

Additionally, all three of the incumbent aldermen seeking re-election face serious challengers.

Thus, there is a realistic possibility of having a majority of greenhorns on the city board. That is a little scary. I have no reason to believe that any of the people running would not serve honorably. However, during the last four years, we have seen the distractions that can be created on the board when a novice member speaks too freely before learning the facts of how city government operates.

And, of course, veteran Mayor Tim Kent is facing a challenge from Chuck Garrett, the former superintendent of education. I have actually known Garrett longer than I’ve known Kent.

Garrett is intelligent, methodical and energetic. Although he has never served in city government, Garrett has a lot of ideas about what changes he wants to make. Dr. Garrett’s management style is a top-down approach. He was accustomed to being the boss when he was school superintendent, and he did an excellent job during his 12 years in that position. If elected mayor, Chuck Garrett will work hard to achieve what he wants done.

Incumbent Mayor Tim Kent’s style is more laid back and collegial – much like that of retiring Alderman Anderson. Kent has succeeded by hiring good people and handling them with a loose rein. Kent has learned that, under our form of city government, the mayor is boss of no one. Rather, every citizen is the mayor’s boss and all decisions rest with the aldermen, not the mayor.

Depending on how things shake out in tomorrow’s city primaries, it could be an interesting four years ahead.



Where to vote & other things to know about the primary election:

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