COLLINS, MS (WDAM) - After almost four decades, there's a new mayor at Collins' City Hall.
Hope Magee Jones was sworn into office on Monday, July 3, 2017. The democrat defeated incumbent Mayor V.O. Smith, who had help the top spot in Collins for 36 years, during the primary election in May. The vote was called nearly three days after election day, with Jones earning the democratic nomination by just two votes.
"I have a lot of respect for him as a person and I do consider him a friend, so it was close," said Jones. "But, we did it here with the help of the residents in Collins."
Jones, who has experience serving as Alderman, defeated Republican Tom Brooks on Election Night. Jones is the first woman to be mayor in Collins.
"It wasn't something that I woke up overnight and thought wow, I want to be mayor," said Jones. Helping the community has been something that was instilled in Jones at a young age, growing up in Collins.
"My mother, she just had a love for the community and a love for the elderly in our community. So on Sunday mornings, we always fixed plates, before we could even eat, and get it out to our senior citizens," Jones said.
The city's campaign is "Come Grow With Us." According to Census data in 2014, there were over 2,500 people living in Collins. Jones said she wants to continue to see growth in the community with help from residents.
"I don't really see any challenges," said Jones. "All I see is the effort needs to be there. The effort to get out there, do the work and put the leg work in. There are so many opportunities out there and we want to take advantage of them."
One advantage for the mayor is the city's location, with Highway 49 and Highway 84 connections. She said the location can also be an advantage for a new companies in the area.
"Our location is just going to be perfect for a lot of new businesses and a lot of industry," Jones said. "So we just want to make our city available for that."
Jones also wants to focus on the youth in Collins. Jones said kids may grow up and move away, like she did, but she would like to see them prepared for the next chapter, which hopefully could lead back to Collins.
Jones said she hopes to start a Youth City Council, so kids have the opportunity to learn how to run a city and see how things work. She said the council is also working to find a new place to hold meetings, hoping a larger area will be more inviting the residents.
Jones said she wants all residents to know there is an "open door policy" at City Hall on Main Street.
"We welcome you to come and sit down and talk with us and tell us your ideas, just be part of the growth here in Collins."