Having been a part of the Mississippi Municipal League for several years during his time as Ward 5 Alderman for the City of Petal, Tony Ducker - who was recently elected as the Friendly City’s seventh mayor - has a wealth of experience in that organization.
This year, however, Ducker will be taking a step up, as he was recently named to the board of directors for the MML, which lobbies the state and federal legislatures, provides education for municipal elected officials, and represents municipalities with public and private entities. Ducker was appointed to the position by Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker, who serves as second vice president for the MML.
“It’s a great honor, and I’m very appreciative of Mayor Barker for putting my name up there,” said Ducker, who is owner of Tony Ducker Insurance in Petal. I think we’ve got common interests, and I think it’s very important that the City of Petal has a seat at the table when it comes to issues that affect Petal, Hattiesburg and Forrest County, and the Pine Belt in general.
"We’re giving an extra $5,000 as part of our (Area Development Partnership) membership; I think a seat at the table will let people know our concerns. We need to advertise and tell everybody what our story is.”
Ducker’s term on the board will last one year; his first meeting in that position is scheduled for Sept. 24 in Tunica. Although Ducker hasn’t yet received an agenda for that meeting, he is aware of several topics that may come up for discussion.
“One thing that jumped out at me is the assessments that we deal with, with the state, when a ticket is written (by police),” he said. “We have to give a decent amount of that money - and a lot of times, up to half of that money - to the state, whereas we’re paying for the police officer, the car and the benefits as well. So you’d like to be able to see some things done with that, from a lobbying standpoint, from the MML.
"But going in, you want to listen to what some of the other cities are dealing with. Mayor Barker is coming up on his fifth year, so he’s got a lot of knowledge and legislative experience. So I definitely have, and plan to do even more, of tapping into his experience that he has."
More information on the Mississippi Municipal League can be found by visiting www.mmlonline.com or by calling (601) 353-5854. Former Mayor Hal Marx, who did not run for reelection in 2021, served twice on the MML board of directors.
“They convey state laws that affect the municipalities, and they relay that information to us,” Ducker said. “We go to the conference every summer, and that allows us to get updates on (matters).
“It also allows us to go the other way with it and say, ‘Hey, what are the concerns we’re having as a city,’ and allows that information to get back to the Legislature. Also, vendors that do services for cities and can streamline services are down there, so we can meet with them to see what kind of best practices we can use while doing our duties."