HERNANDO, Miss.--Hernando is in one of the fastest growing areas of the state, the Memphis Metro. Chip Johnson is the mayor there and he is now the president of the Mississippi Municipal League, an organization that includes city leaders from all over the state.
He tells News Mississippi that city leaders are battling problems like obesity and budget shortfalls on the local level. And, he says, those issues are non-partisan. He says out of the over 200 mayors in the state, he knows only ten of their party affiliations.
He pointed out first that the League is there as a resource for newly elected officials.
"When I was elected back in 2005, I didn't know how to be a mayor," he said. Johnson said there are training sessions for mayors, aldermen and council members.
"You're learning how to be an elected official. You're learning the laws, how to work within those laws."
It's working together to solve problems that Johnson says is the most important part of a city's League affiliation. One issue that his hitting many smaller communities hard is finding enough revenue to operate in lean times. One area where cities have had a hard time is finding money for fuel for firetrucks, dump trucks and city vehicles. Police fleets call for fuel to do patrols. But, there are other areas where cities are hurting.
"State Representative Alday, was Mayor Alday of Walls. He literally, as mayor, rode the city tractor and mowed the grass. Well, when he became a state representative, they had to pay somebody to mow the grass and it was a huge budget consideration."
Johnson says city leaders can also help fight obesity in their towns, adding that he believes what you eat is a personal choice.
"We're not going the Mayor Bloomberg route for sure. I feel very strongly that your personal health is your personal choice. But I do think that elected officials have a duty to provide an atmosphere and an opportunity for good health," he said. "So if you want to walk out your front door and walk somewhere or jog somewhere, if I haven't given you that opportunity by installing sidewalks or bike lanes, then I haven't done my job."
Johnson says his city is working on providing as many opportunities for living a healthy lifestyle as can be afforded.