The sudden late June departure of Jackson Councilman Ben Allen has left a void in City Hall. The councilman from Ward 1 was serving his third term on the Jackson City Council, having been first elected in 1997. He was elected by his colleagues to serve as president of the council in July 2006.
Citing health reasons, Allen submitted a hand-written letter of resignation to the board. Allen had recently been hospitalized with stress-induced symptoms. He stated that he was going to focus on his health and his businesses.
The self-employed businessman represents several school supply companies and is the president and owner of Scholastic Products and Awards Inc. He also hosts a very popular talk radio show on WJNT News Talk 1180 AM.
According to Stan Carter, operations manager of WJNT, Allen will be taking a short hiatus. “That was one of the first things we were concerned about when we heard he resigned from the council,” said Carter. “But he assures us he will be back. His show is very popular with our listeners.”
Real loss, says business owner
Maur McKie, owner of Green Oak Nursery in Jackson, said that Allen’s resignation is a real loss for Jackson. “He’s done a good job as councilman, and I believe he was the right man for the job at this time. We need someone in that position who will take a leadership role, because the council sure needs some good leaders. And we need someone who will tackle some of the major issues in Jackson, especially crime, business development and the Two Lakes Project, which I believe really needs to go through.”
McKie said that his business has been affected by crime in recent years. “We used to keep flowering hanging baskets and other plants out front. It beautified our corner and created a visually appealing storefront. But we can’t do that now. If we put anything out that’s not nailed down, it will be stolen.”
‘Passionate, knowledgeable, trustworthy and tireless’
Jeff Good of Bravo!, Broadstreet and Sal & Mookie’s restaurants, is also disappointed that Allen resigned.
“Ben Allen refers to himself as a ‘warrior’ for the City of Jackson — no better description could be made. Over the 10 years of his service, his knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of municipal governance grew to a tremendous critical mass,” Good said. “I think Ben epitomizes the best in a public servant — passionate, knowledgeable, trustworthy and tireless. I truly don’t know how this man has kept his ‘day job’ given the amount of time and perspiration given for the benefit of our citizens. Everyone in Jackson owes him thanks for his exemplary service, and whoever attempts to step into the void left by his departure needs to continue to lead our city without regards to race, politics or special influences — something that sadly is lacking throughout much of metro governance.”
Missed, but moving forward
Mayor Frank Melton said that Allen will truly be missed on the city council.
“We certainly understand that he needs to prioritize his life and that his family and health must come first,” said Melton. “Ben has made a mark on the city, and his service has been appreciated. But now, moving forward, we are excited that there are other viable candidates to fill his spot on the council.”
Melton’s spokesperson, Carolyn Redd, said that Allen has always been very fair to her. “I just don’t think he realized the challenge he’d have serving on such a diverse council. But he was always passionate about everything he did, and that was great for everyone. I think his letter to the city and the council shows what kind of person Ben Allen is when he challenged them to ‘show up and move forward with city business.’”
A native of Vicksburg, Allen is a 1973 graduate of Mississippi State University and a former captain in the United States Army. Allen is married to the former Susie Moore of Starkville, and they have two sons, Matthew and Clayton.