David Little, left, and Jason Walker
Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn, left, tells Mayor Lynn Spruill, right, at Tuesday's meeting that he supports the proposed addition of designated cigar lounges to the city's smoking ordinance. The board will vote on the proposed changes at a later meeting after two public hearings.
Photo by: Tess Vrbin/Dispatch Staff
November 18, 2020 10:30:18 AM
Two Starkville aldermen said at Tuesday's meeting they will not run for reelection in April 2021.
David Little of Ward 3 told the board in a prepared announcement that "after several months of prayerful consideration and thoughts" he would not be running for a third term.
"I believe for the city to grow and prosper, new individuals and ideas are always needed," Little said.
Mayor Lynn Spruill was the first to thank Little for serving two terms on the board.
"I think we've done a lot of good things, and you've been part of that in immeasurable ways," Spruill said.
Jason Walker of Ward 4 had already told the board he too would not be seeking a third term, but the discussion of Little's decision made Walker's decision public.
He told The Dispatch this morning that "two terms are sufficient" and he wants to focus on his full-time job as an associate professor of landscape architecture at Mississippi State University.
"I've accomplished a number of things that I was passionate about and trying to get done, but I think it's good for somebody else to come in and see what they want to do for the citizens of Ward 4 and the entire city," Walker said.
Little said he does not think of himself as a politician but as someone "who simply wants the best for Starkville" and "wanted to get off the sidelines."
His daughter, Elizabeth Lake Little, died last year at the age of 18 when a plane she was piloting crashed in Oxford, and Little said he is still grateful for the city's "outpouring of love and support" for his family.
The rest of the board expressed their appreciation for Little's tenure on the board. Ben Carver of Ward 1 said he has always looked up to Little, and Henry Vaughn of Ward 7 said he too does not think of himself as a politician but understands the need to be of service to the city.
Ward 5 Alderman Hamp Beatty, the board's newest member after a special election in May 2019, said it had been an honor to work with both Little and Walker, and he hopes they both remain active in the Starkville community.
Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said she appreciated the board as a whole throughout the term, which started in 2017.
"We've had some rough moments, but for the most part I think we've worked well together," Sistrunk said.
Little said announcing his decision this early will hopefully allow someone from Ward 3 to put in the necessary thought and effort to run for his seat.
The mayor's office and all seven seats on the board of aldermen will be up for election in 2021. No other elected city officials have said they will not defend their positions.
In other business, the board unanimously called for the first of two public hearings to consider adding cigar lounges to the city's smoking ordinance.
The current ordinance bans smoking of any kind in most public places but makes exceptions for private clubs, designated rooms in hotels or motels and stores that sell tobacco or electronic cigarettes and are "not adjoined or physically connected to another business or residence."
The proposed change would add smoking lounges "engaged in the sale and use of cigars and/or hookahs" to the list of exceptions, according to documents provided with the meeting agenda. These lounges would have to be located within standalone commercial buildings in the city's leisure and entertainment district, which covers most of downtown and the Cotton District.
Most of the board expressed support for the proposal, which is still subject to change before the board votes for or against it at a later meeting.
"I think it would be something different for Starkville, but I think it would be rewarding," Vaughn said.
Little said he supports the ordinance as long as it does not roll back existing restrictions on designated smoking areas.
"I'm excited about what the corner of Main Street (and Washington Street) would look like," he said.
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