MUSCLE SHOALS — Willis Thompson says his 15 years of service on the school board has given him a window into the workings of the city that he hopes to represent in the Place 3 City Council seat.
Thompson, 59, has served three five-year terms on the school board, a position that expires the end of this month.
He is retired after 36 years with the Tennessee Valley Authority, where he worked as a senior operation/technician at Wilson Dam. His career at TVA also included work with the Department of Defense.
He is seeking to fill the Place 3 seat being vacated by Mike Lockhart, who recently announced his mayoral run.
"Working on the school board, I've seen the city's accomplishments, many of which involved our school system, and I want to continue building on what we're doing well and help find solutions to ongoing issues such as flooding," he said.
"I'm not looking to come in and push any platform, but to build on what we're doing and listen to the residents so we can capitalize on the good in this city."
He said his decision-making ability is evidenced by the growth in the school system the past 15 years, such as the building of a top-notch career academy, the addition of a fourth-grade wing at McBride Elementary, and the building of the new sports facilities, including major stadium renovations.
"These things all just echo the fact that we strive for excellence," Thompson said. "This would certainly be my mentality as a city councilman."
Thompson said he takes pride in the fact that Muscle Shoals is a safe city. However, he said he's aware of issues within departments that need to be addressed and a resolution reached, such as the struggle for qualified police applicants.
"We need our department heads to come together and resolve some issues," he said.
Continued city support of the school system is paramount, Thompson said.
"Education is key to any good, successful city," he said. "We've got to retain our young people and put them to work here after they graduate from college, or when they go straight into the workforce after high school. We need to keep them here."
Thompson said he won't back down from tough questions and issues. He believes there's a solution for every problem.
"I have a passion for serving this city, and as issues come up I'll work with our residents," he said. "It's important to have constant input from the people you're serving."
He admits that campaigning during these unprecedented times will look different than in the past, necessitated by the ongoing need for social distancing.
"I'm certainly going to be respectful of people's health and safety, so I won't be going door to door, but I'll most definitely be getting my information out there in a variety of other ways," he said.