Shortly after the May 3rd primary for the upcoming city election, each candidate in contested races on the June 6th New Albany general election ballot received an identical questionnaire from NAnewsweb.com. Each was asked to answer four questions. These are the responses in the candidates’ own words. The responses being posted today are the ones of the two candidates for First Ward Alderman. Those for Alderman at Large and Mayor will be posted during the next two days.
- What would you like our readers to know about your family, your residency in New Albany and your education?
- Would you tell us about the career you have pursued to earn a living?
- Why are you running for the office you seek, and, if elected, what do you hope to achieve during your four-year term of service?
- What do you believe are the top challenges New Albany faces in the future?
What would you like our readers to know about your family, your residency in New Albany and you education?
My name is Larry A. Dykes, born in New Albany, Mississippi, May 4, 1946, the son of Jesse and Eloise Dykes. My parents were always active in the community, helping people and giving back to people who were less fortunate than others. I was raised in Mallalieu Methodist Church and was taught love, respect, and honesty thru hard work and helping others. I graduated High School in May of 1965 and went to MS Valley State University for four years. I was drafted in the military before graduating and served two years in the U.S. Army with one tour of Viet Nam. During my basic training, I earned the highest awards offered to a basic trainee, the American Spirit Honor Medal, and the Commanding General Award. After my military service, I worked in factories for a while and decided to return to Mississippi and complete my education. I was married at that time, with three children, so it was very hard to work and go to school at night. I joined the Mississippi Army National Guard in 1980 and became a full-time (AGR) employee with them. I went to night school and earned a BBA degree from the University of Mississippi.
Would you tell us about the career you have pursued to earn a living?
While in the Mississippi Army National Guard, I worked as a Recruiter and Career Counselor. I worked with high-risk children that were targeted as drop-outs or at risk of not graduating at all. My volunteer service really started there and then. I mentored 22 young men and women through the Youth Challenge Program at Camp Shelby, MS. Each student went to class and participated in other activities for six months. After completing the course they were awarded their GED and offered jobs in both the military and private sectors. I retired from the National Guard in 1999, but continued to work with students by visiting them at Camp Shelby or volunteering at the Boys and Girl Club. After my military retirement I joined the New Albany public school system and worked with students with counseling and support. After earning my teacher’s license I taught Social Studies and worked with Special Education students until I retired in 2009. After retiring from the school system I went to work for the Union County Headstart Program, assisting teachers, driving the bus, helping in the lunch room, and janitorial work. After working with Head Start for seven years, I decided to retire from that and become a servant doing something else. I worked for three days after the Memorial Day storm helping people clean up the mess and protect their homes from further damage.
Why are you running for the office you seek, and, if elected, what do you hope to achieve during your four-year term of service?
I’m running for Alderman-At-Large because I want to let my education, work experience, and volunteer service experience work for the citizens of New Albany. I have the leadership experience to help our city keep up with the fast-moving pace of today’s world. I’m not a stand still, do nothing person, which is why my volunteer service speaks for me. My list of volunteer services includes Union County Literacy Council, Union County Extension Service, Meals on Wheels, President- New Albany Neighborhood Association, Youth Challenge Academy (Camp Shelby, Mississippi), Master Gardener, Community Garden, American Legion Post 72, Red Cross and Lift Inc. One of my goals is to “use the user,” which is a military term for using the people you have available by cross-training each employee to help maximize a limited budget. By doing this the operation won’t have to be practically shut down because one person is sick or on vacation. Next is to review the old outdated ordinances of the city. There should be truck routes for heavy 18-wheelers driving on neighborhood streets, which are not equipped to handle the weight, destroying our streets and maybe our water systems. Another goal is to set up a communication network throughout the city. This will keep the people informed about city progress and how their tax dollars are being spent. By putting information bulletin boards in the parks, busy streets and local businesses people who don’t read the newspaper or watch the news will be able to keep up with local activities.
What do you believe are the top challenges New Albany faces in the future?
The top challenges we face are more progress, especially in strengthening our infrastructure and employment opportunities. We’ve got to keep up with the city’s growth while maintaining a strong city government. We’ve got to cross-train, retrain and rebuild the weaker departments of the city. We have to include all ethnic groups in our struggle to be that fair and friendly city we are so proud of. We have to encourage small business growth and be able to accommodate tourism on a larger scale. Last but not least we have to attract more businesses and higher-paying jobs to keep our young people at home so they can one day take charge. Thank you; God Bless America and God Bless New Albany.
Mayoral candidates’ posts will follow.
To read posts of other candidates in contested races: