THE YEAR IN REVIEW: Hudson hands off to Gill in Marion

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Larry Gill shakes hands with Elvis Hudson soon before his inauguration at Marion Town Hall in July. Hudson served as mayor of Marion for 16 years, and Gill won the election to be his successor. 

MARION — After serving as mayor for 16 years, Elvis Hudson handed the key to the town to Larry Gill in July. 

The two mayors represent different generations — Hudson is 62 and his successor is 26. Hudson has provided Gill with advice in recent weeks, and Gill plans to take what he has learned and apply it to his new position.

The Meridian Star spoke with the leaders at Marion Town Hall to learn about Hudson’s legacy and Gill’s plans for the future of Marion.

Hudson’s 16 years in the mayor’s post

Hudson was elected mayor in 2005, after serving one term as an alderman for the Town of Marion. He also had worked many years as a used parts salesman, which required him to frequently talk on the phone.

“That was one of my biggest assets — being able to communicate with people,” he said, adding that the mayor’s post was a “natural fit” for him.

Hudson said that when he was elected mayor, he didn’t know any elected officials, other than Marion aldermen. But over his years as mayor, he has gotten to know numerous officials.

For example, Hudson worked with state and federal officials to secure funding for the construction of a sewer line between Marion and the Dalewood Sewer District. The line, which was built in 2015, has allowed Marion to send most of its sewage to Dalewood, where it is treated.

Hudson is also proud of the growth of business in Marion during his tenure. When he started his first term, Marion had five businesses, he said. Now, it has more than 100.

“We built the town of Marion on mom-and-pop businesses,” he said. “So, we gave a lot of them the opportunity … to build a business for themself.”

At the same time, the town has seen industrial growth. BWI Companies, Inc., a wholesale supplier, opened a facility in Marion in 2018.

Marion’s yearly sales tax revenue has also increased since when Hudson first took office.

Transition between Hudson and Gill

Since Gill was elected, he’s been able to call Hudson every time he’s had a question, he said.

“I ain’t saying he wanted to answer the phone, but I called him,” Gill said, as Hudson chuckled.

Gill noted that Hudson walked him through the daily processes he will have to complete as mayor.

“I couldn’t ask for a better person to be transitioning from, because of his transparency and his leadership, showing me how things work around here,” Gill said. “And I just want to take that information and be able to apply it in the next couple of days, because it’s about to happen pretty soon.”

Gill said one piece of advice that Hudson has given him is “don’t try to do it all at once.”

“Government is a slow process,” Gill said, describing Hudson’s advice. “We gotta take it slow, take it day-by-day, and try to make the best decisions for the people around here.”

Gill’s plans for Marion

At his inauguration ceremony, Gill became the youngest active mayor in Mississippi. He plans to focus on three main areas: economic growth, public safety and youth.

In the economic growth arena, Gill wants to support already existing Marion businesses.

“We have a great group of businesses here in Marion,” he said. “I want to make sure that they have all the resources and tools that they need to be successful in their businesses, while also making ourselves more innovative and marketable for potential businesses and industries to come here.”

Gill plans to create a team of local business owners and residents that will meet once a quarter and brainstorm ideas about economic development in Marion.

Gill also plans to focus on the public safety sector, which includes not only the police and fire departments, but also the town’s response to storms and emergencies.

“I think our police department and fire and everybody’s doing a great job, but as times change, [there’s] always ways to be better, with technology and things like that,” he said. “And I want to make sure that we’re researching all the possibilities to make Marion the best that she can be.”

The youth of Marion are also a focus of Gill. He wants the town to provide children and teens with the resources and opportunities they need to be successful.

“It’s very important that we understand that the youth are the future of this community,” he noted. “They’re going to be the ones that’s sitting here running for mayor one day and board of aldermen.”

Meanwhile, Hudson is reflective on his time as mayor.

“It’s been an interesting journey,” he said. “I loved every minute of it. I really have.”

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