Archived Story

Lunsford reflects on past, looks forward to future

Published 11:00pm Friday, October 26, 2012

Mayor Jimmy Lunsford loves to work. But he’s also ready to rest a little.

Mayor Lunsford
Mayor Lunsford

The mayor of 30 years announced he was stepping down from his position back in June and said, although he is retiring from office, he’ll still be in the business of public service.

“I’ve had a lot of experience with grant applications and I’m going to do some work in the economic development field,” Lunsford said. “I am still going to help. But I’m going to do it at my pace, and therein lies the difference.”

The mayor chuckled a bit, adding, “I love to work. But when I’m done working I love to play. And I’ve got three grandkids who love to play, too.”

Jaxen, 10, Mary, 9, and Jenna Lee, 7, will be top priority for the grandfather who said one of the hardest things about his job as mayor was missing out on time with the children.

And while there is much to look forward to in Lunsford’s future, this transitional time is also one of reflection.

When Lunsford began his career as a politician, it wasn’t because of any famous person he’d met. It was because of his father.

“He was a farmer with an eighth-grade education, but he was the smartest man I ever knew,” Lunsford said, apologizing for becoming emotional when talking about his dad.

Grady Lunsford passed away about six months before the mayor took office, but Lunsford said he hopes his father would be proud.

“My dad always wanted me to be the probate judge,” Lunsford said, shaking his head with a smile. “I never did hold the title of probate judge, but I’ve done what he wanted me to – help people.”

Lunsford said, although his father was considered a common man, he had friends in both high and low places because of his spirit and desire to help his community.

“He wasn’t in the position to do a lot financially, but he could always help,” Lunsford said. “If there was a need for a church, he could help build. If people needed food, he had food. Especially in the early days, I would think about what he would do in a situation. I think that guided me.

“When I first came into office, I’d actually go to the graveyard,” Lunsford said. “It may sound odd, but it helped.”

During his 30-year tenure, the city has changed and there have been many incredible moments and achievements for Lunsford.

“I think the thing that makes me proudest is, in 1985, making a decision and a plan to diversify our industry so we wouldn’t get caught up in so much of the misfortune our sister cities had to deal with,” Lunsford said.

Recruiting companies such as Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin opened doors and opportunities unique to Troy residents and further negotiations brought in CGI and Golden Boy Foods to ensure that if one industry suffers, Troy can still prosper.

“It was also important for us to see the growth of our local people and local businesses who started here,” Lunsford said. “I don’t feel, at this time, that we are overexposed to any type of industry.”

Lunsford was also instrumental in setting up a merit-based system of pay for city employees.

“I have always believed in trying to provide the best service with the least amount of people possible, but to pay those people,” Lunsford said. “I am proud that we pay our people what they are worth.”

“Being mayor is about taking care of the community, the people, the businesses,” Lunsford said. “I’m happy with my time in office and I hope that the people here are, too.”

A ceremony to honor Mayor Jimmy Lunsford will be held at City Hall Monday from 3 to 6 p.m.

 

  • Harry

    Think Troy will truly miss Mr Lunsford . He has served the city very well . A big plus in my opinion is that he showed a human side as shown by his love and respect of his father . Mr Lunsford I wish you well in your retirement and do enjoy the time with your grandkids as they grow up mighty fast .

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  • TBAR

    This new signage in such a prominent location is way, way too much regognition for a man who was just doing what the city paid him to do. And paid him well, two checks every month. One as mayor and another as defacto head of the Southeast Alabama Gas District.
    His name is already on the tennis courts on Elm Street. His name is on numerous bronze plaques on new buildings around town. A more appropriate honor would have been to name a street near his neighborhood or perhaps downtown as was done for Mr. Meeks. As it is now, thousands of residents and visitors alike will be exposed to this sign for generations to come.
    I dare say if the city council had put the decision to place such a sign up for a vote by the citizens, it would not be there today. This is Troy Alabama, not Lunsfordtown.

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