Continuing with my candidate Q&A and commentary, this post regards Southaven mayoral candidate Tommy Henley. Please feel free to message me with any additional questions or for more information. Thank you.
1. Is Greg Davis or Dale Wilson behind your campaign in any capacity: social media, website, providing information or as a campaign consultant/advisor?
2. Did you and your wife spend so much on her school board campaign as a way to promote you for this mayoral race, and did you have plans of running for mayor during your wife’s campaign?
3. Is Jordan Brumbelow working for your campaign?
4. Are you a member of the DCCC (DeSoto County Conservative Coalition)?
5. Is Melanie Sojourner or others associated with Chris McDaniel involved in your campaign? If so, why and to what extent?
6. Did someone put you up to suing the city over the campaign signs or what prompted you to make that decision?
7. What are your feelings on the Penny for Your Parks situation?
8. What was your motivating factor in deciding to run for office?
1. Mr. Henley emphatically stated that Greg Davis and Dale Wilson are not behind his campaign in any capacity. This was actually one of the rumors that Tommy was most bothered by. Davis and Wilson do not oversee Mr. Henley’s website or social media nor do they provide information about the city of Southaven. As with many people in the county that have lived here for any extended period of time, you know lots of people, and there are many ways to obtain information. Greg Davis is not the provider of any information used on any campaign website or social media post. Other credible sources have provided information.
2. Mr. Henley is obviously very proud of his wife and greatly supports her. Tommy told me that Michelle felt strongly about running for the school board because of things that she saw happening or not happening in the district. She was passionate about making a difference for the children in all of our schools. Her campaign was not used as a marketing preface for the mayoral race. At the time that Michelle ran for school board, Tommy had no plans to run for any political office. It was during that race, though, that people began to approach Tommy about the possibility of running for mayor. At the time, it was not something that Mr. Henley intended to do.
3. A good number of citizens, who are politically involved, have speculated about Jordan Brumbelow’s involvement with Mr. Henley’s campaign, since he ran Michelle’s campaign for school board. Jordan has worked as a campaign manager or consultant for many candidates over the years. Now, Brumbelow works as a Field Representative for our Secretary of State, Delbert Hosemann. Because Hosemann oversees elections and certain other areas, Brumbelow’s work on a campaign could be viewed as a conflict of interest for someone in his position. Tommy was quick to say that Brumbelow is not working for his campaign. Mr. Henley went on to say that Jordan did work for Michelle’s campaign. After the fact, Jordan was unable to work for anymore campaigns due to his position with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office as advised by his boss, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. *It should be noted that this question was asked simply to bring clarity to those who had questions or concerns and is in no way personal or meant to offend Jordan Brumbelow. I hope this resolves this issue.
4. Because of growing tensions between the DCCC and certain local and statewide elected officials, many citizens have viewed Mr. Henley as a member of that group. Tommy told me that he is not a member of the DCCC. He has only been to 1 or 2 meetings. He is related to DCCC member, House Rep Ashley Henley, by marriage. Ashley Henley’s husband, Brandon Henley, is his nephew. From our conversation, Mr. Henley made it clear that he has not been politically involved in the past enough to know or understand the political landscape in the county or state. Tommy expressed that he is just a citizen that has seen a need for some changes to be made to the city that he loves and is running so that he can possibly make a difference.
5. For those of you that are unaware, Chris McDaniel is a MS State Senator from Laurel, MS who ran against Senator Thad Cochran in 2014 for Cochran’s U.S. Senate seat. Melanie Sojourner is a former, one term MS State Senator from Natchez who was also Chris McDaniel’s campaign manager. The Senate race of 2014 was filled with scandal and divisiveness. The reason this question was or is important to many people is because of the extreme divisiveness and tactics used by Sojourner and the small group of Conservatives who still support McDaniel and Sojourner. Tommy, admittedly, has been accused at times of being a crazy, ultra Conservative and lumped in with the McDaniel group and those that still support them. Mr. Henley told me that Melanie Sojourner and Richard Burke do work for his campaign. Being a first-time candidate, he did not know much about who to hire to run his campaign. Melanie was recommended to him, so he did hire her. Based on our conversation, I would guess that Melanie and Richard handle campaign strategy and/or campaign messaging and branding. Since neither one lives in North Mississippi, they would be limited as to what they could do on a daily basis as far as organizing events and GOTV. Not to mention, there has been no visible sign of them here in the county or out campaigning for Tommy. Here again though, to what extent they are involved was not discussed at length.
6. Many people have questioned the motives behind Mr. Henley’s decision to sue the city of Southaven over the campaign signs. I asked Tommy if anyone put him up to suing the city and especially since he was aware of the sign ordinances and process. (His wife, Michelle, had just successfully run for school board, so they had to deal with the signs during her campaign). Mr. Henley stated that no one put him up to suing the city. What prompted this action was a last minute change made by the Mayor and Board of Alderman. I am still a little unclear over the change(s). I believe the changes were the $25 fee was waived and some additional paperwork was required. After speaking with Tommy and Darren about this issue, I do not believe that they are in agreement on what the actual concern was. Mr. Henley stated that he was assured that the changes would not impact his sign placements in the city, but he was not confident that would be the case after the fact. He decided to take legal measures to protect himself and his sign placements.
7. I asked this particular question of Mr. Henley so that he could give us his thoughts on the issue. I wanted to make sure that others’ comments or opinions were not being projected onto to Tommy. It is easy to associate a person with someone else and assume that they share the exact same thoughts. Often, this is not the case. I asked Mr. Henley if he thought this issue could have been handled better. He stated that the Penny for Your Parks could have been handled better, and there did seem to be a lot of miscommunication along the way. Tommy supported the initiative being placed on the ballot in June for citizens to vote on. He agreed that expansions to the parks cannot always be accomplished in the timeframe of a 3 year repealer, so Mr. Henley supported a repealer with a longer term before coming back up for another vote or no repealer at all. He supports what the citizens of Southaven vote to do, but Tommy feels it should ultimately be up to citizens to decide.
8. To most of us that are actively involved politically, Mr. Henley’s decision to run for mayor did not seem to be something that had long been in the works. For this reason, I asked him what was the final straw in making this decision. Mr. Henley said that the final deciding factor, pushing him to run for mayor, was the shooting of the 2 utility workers on Stateline Rd. Public safety is a top concern to him, and Tommy feels that we need to take greater security measures especially along the state line. Two concerns that he expressed were the number of officers on patrol at night (which he said is 11 officers for the city) and the other was the number of people on the gang task force in Southaven (which he said is only 2). With the amount of gang activity and crime in the area, Mr. Henley feels that we need more on patrol and on certain task forces than we have now. One of his solutions to some of these public safety concerns is to install cameras in the parks and along the state line. The kind of camera that he is referring to is state of the art and can pinpoint a single person to get facial recognition which can be shared to bring suspects to justice. He also thinks that police vehicles need to be in complete working order with all of the necessary components. Tommy feels that some of the crime statistics used to promote Southaven are not up to date or accurate. Mr. Henley stated that the latest data available is from 2013 and is not representative of the actual stats today.
Additional information that Mr. Henley shared with me:
1. Tommy feels that his business career has prepared him for the mayor’s position. He said that he is a good negotiator, successful in business, has experience working emergencies and hazmat situations and has been extremely successful from building businesses from the ground floor all the way to the top.
2. Tommy is a big proponent in bringing manufacturing jobs to the county and especially Southaven. He stated that we have a lot of warehouses which typically employ around 100 people and pay about $14-$15/hour, but manufacturing jobs provide more career opportunities and at a greater rate of pay around $25/hour. He thinks that in coordination with our school district’s vocational schools, we could train and prepare our students to work in these manufacturing jobs. Tommy said that not all students want to go to college and others want to be working with their hands. Manufacturing jobs, in Tommy’s opinion, give people another option for employment and at a greater rate of pay which will in turn help the economy of the city. The more money that people make will help lead to a stronger economy.
3. One thing that has surprised Tommy during this campaign is the amount of people, especially in their 30s and 40s, that are not registered to vote and who don’t even realize that Greg Davis is not the mayor. Whether or not he is elected as mayor, Tommy wants to start something that promotes getting more people involved locally and registered to vote.
4. Tommy has stated that, if elected, he plans to cut the mayor’s salary in half. He does not feel that the mayor should be making the current salary. As a business owner, comparing statewide salaries with salaries of various top business professionals, he believes the current salary is too high.
5. Tommy acknowledges some of the accomplishments of the current city’s administration but feels that they, like the administration before them, have tunnel vision when it comes to the running of the city. There needs to be an all-inclusive direction to take the city in. He feels that there are areas of Southaven that have not received the attention that they deserve, and Tommy also feels that there is a lacking in unity throughout the city. For those reasons, he chose One Southaven for his campaign motto.
My Commentary and Additional Information
To be fair to Tommy, I have not had the amount of interaction time with him that I have with Mayor Musselwhite during this election cycle. I did speak to Mr. Henley for an hour and a half about his campaign. We have met in person on one occasion, and I find him to be an incredibly nice person. I have a good number of friends and associates that know him and are supporting him just as I do with Mayor Musselwhite. I think Tommy’s wife, Michelle, is doing an incredible job on our school board. The Henleys obviously have a very close family, and I believe that Tommy would sincerely like to make a difference in Southaven.
As I stated to Tommy, there are those in the city and county that feel as if he was used in this mayoral race to further others’ personal and political agendas. Because Tommy and Michelle are undoubtedly successful business owners that have self funded both of their campaigns, it is very easy for a person or group to push them into something, knowing it will be the Henleys that bare the financial responsibility thus eliminating the burden of fundraising from any of their potential supporters or their campaign managers. Regardless of who all may or may not have contributed to encouraging Tommy to run, I find him to be sincere in his desire to make a difference and hope that citizens will review all of the facts and backgrounds on all 3 of the candidates before making a decision.
I always commend and respect any person that decides to step up to the plate to make a difference. Citizens need choices in the governing of their communities. In the Southaven mayor’s race, citizens have 3 choices, and I hope that all 3 will be given careful consideration before you cast your vote. I apologize for not having information on Southaven Mayoral Candidate, James Weifenbach, I have heard him speak and been to a couple of events that he has attended, but I have limited knowledge about him. Due to time limitations, I have focused on the candidates that appear to be of the greatest concern to citizens. I hope you understand.
Links to some of Mr. Henley’s campaign platform and other issues: