Lunsford won’t seek another term

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford speaks to department heads at a meeting in Troy, Ala., Friday, June 1, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

Jimmy Lunsford, Troy’s mayor of 30 years, choked back tears as he spoke to city workers Friday.

“After a lot of prayer, I will not seek re-election,” Lunsford said to a packed council chambers.

Four years ago, Lunsford publicly announced that he would not seek another term in office. But in recent months, it seemed he’d changed his mind. Even as late as mid-May, Lunsford told The Messenger he planned to run, but said Friday he made a decision not to run after much prayer and consideration.

“The vast majority of you have been on my team all the way,” Lunsford said to city council members and staff. “I love you and I appreciate it.

“I will always, always be proud for the privilege and the pleasure of working with you, but I will not be a candidate for mayor in August.”

Lunsford expressed gratitude to his team and said the city has come a long way. He said he was especially proud to have helped increase Troy’s revenue from $10 million to $57 million during his tenure as mayor.

“The view looks mighty nice on top, and we’re on top,” Lunsford said of the city. “We are in an enviable position.”

As Lunsford walked away from the front of the room, Councilman Johnny Witherington, whom the mayor called his strongest confidant, was the first in line for a hug. The other council members weren’t far behind.

Lunsford whispered, “I love you,” to many people he embraced.

“It’s sad whenever someone has been in office as long as we have and decides to leave,” said Councilman Charles Meeks who will also not be seeking re-election after serving more than 30 years on the Troy City Council. “It’s been an honor and a privilege of mine to work with the mayor.

“We are going to both stay active in the community, though. The city is our home and we want what is best for it.”

Former politician Steve Flowers said that Lunsford’s 30 years in office have been “incomparable.”

“I would venture to say that Jimmy Lunsford will easily go down as the best mayor Troy will ever have,” Flowers said. “This void is going to be hard to fill.”

“I made the right decision. I know it,” Lunsford said as the council chambers began to clear out. “God and I talked a lot about it.”

Lunsford took office in the early 1980s and even though he’s leaving his post of mayor on Nov. 5, he said he’s not going to retire in the traditional sense. He plans to lend a hand with Troy’s economic development work because he said that’s what he “knows how to do well.”

But even industry and commerce may have to take a back seat to Lunsford’s new full-time job as a grandfather.

“My future plans, first off, involve grandchildren, grandchildren, grandchildren.”