Lunsford reflects on past, looks forward to future

Published 11:00 pm 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.”

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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.