Voters help Lumpkin make her vision a reality

Published 12:04 am Sunday, September 2, 2012

Louvenia Lumpkin was elected the next mayor of Orrville in Tuesday’s municipal elections. She will take office in November, becoming the first African-American and first women to serve in the position. -- Katie Wood

ORRVILLE — Less that two months ago, an Orrville resident made a prediction she would one day be the mayor of the town she grew up in.

“When I was leaving (my family in Detroit) I said, ‘In 10 years, I will be mayor of Orrville’,” Louvenia Lumpkin said.

That statement was made in June of this year and as fate would have it, Lumpkin’s prediction came true Tuesday. Nine years and eight months early, to be exact.

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“I knew I would be in this position someday, but I didn’t realize it would be this soon,” Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin’s win is historic. Not only did she defeat long-time Orrville Mayor Gene McHugh, but Lumpkin will be the first African-American, as well as the first woman, to be elected mayor of Orrville.

Lumpkin said she’s not intimidated about following McHugh, who has served as the town’s mayor for 21 years.

“I think they wanted more ideas,” Lumpkin said of her supporters. “I think the mayor that they had, he’s a fine guy, but I think with our age, my age and his age, I have fresher ideas. And I think that’s what the community was looking for.”

However, being mayor wasn’t something she was necessarily looking for.

“It’s strange,” Lumpkin said. “It’s strange how it happened.”

Between the day she decided to run for office and the night she found out she had won, less than two months had passed.

“The community looked around, and they found me,” Lumpkin said. “I was approached three times to run for mayor. The first two times I said no.”

All three of Lumpkin’s requests to be mayor came in July. The third request came from James Carson, Lumpkin’s friend from high school, who told her he felt like she was the person to run for the position.

“I still refused to do it,” Lumpkin said. “And then he said, ‘If you asked me to do it, then I would do it.’”

Carson’s words stuck with Lumpkin and ultimately helped her decide to run for mayor.

“That was the tipping point,” Lumpkin said. “When he said that, that’s what got my attention.”

Lumpkin qualified for the mayoral race just days before the deadline, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t serious about winning.

“Anytime you go into a race, you go in it to win it. And not to win it for yourself, but for the people of the community,” Lumpkin said. “This race was not won on my behalf, but because of the people. They got out and helped me a whole lot, and I won’t let them down.”

Lumpkin already has some serious goals and ideas on how to help the people of Orrville. Her first priority is getting jobs. Her plan is to visit other small towns, like Demopolis and Uniontown, and see some of the things those towns have to offer.

“I want to go to other towns the size of Orrville and see what jobs they have in their town and get insight from their mayor how they got companies to invest in their town,” she said.

On her plans for her term as mayor, Lumpkin also said she wants to see many things in Orrville including: a bank, a grocery store, a doctor’s office, a health class, a small YMCA, a gas station, public bathrooms, GED classes, restaurants and more technology to come to the area.

“There’s so much I want to see in Orrville,” Lumpkin said. “And I truly believe we can do all those things.”

Currently residents of Orrville have to drive 15 miles to Selma, even for small, basic necessities.

“If we had something local, it would be a whole, whole lot better for our people,” Lumpkin said. “I want to see some of those things that have left the community to come back.”

Lumpkin spoke with passion as she described her vision for her community.

“I grew up in this community; I’m not a stranger,” she said. “I want them to see that at the end of the day, that I would be a good mayor.”