“Stay out of the city business!” Southaven mayor to state rep

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SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — Things got heated at a recent Southaven Board of Aldermen meeting when the mayor and a state representative exchanged sharp words.

“You have a lot of big issues to worry about. You need to turn your view to Jackson and do the job we hired you to do and stay out of the city business,” Mayor Darren Musslewhite said while answering a string of questions from State Rep. Ashley Henley.

Henley, whose district includes Southaven, was at the meeting Tuesday to ask the mayor about an arena that's being considered to house volleyball tournaments.

The arena currently houses a flea market, and Henley said a number of her constituents had asked her to seek an assurance from the mayor that the flea market and other events would be allowed to continue using the arena should the volleyball tournaments be approved.

"What we are talking about ... are opportunities available for the citizens that are within the general vicinity ... that they will actually use," said Henley at Tuesday's meeting. "I get that it'll make more money for the city and it'll help you buy prettier signs."

But the mayor had harsh words for Henley.

"You've made it clear that you're an anti-tax and anti-fee person. You're a radical, political rightwing. That's what you are," Musslewhite said.

He later added, "You need to get this message before you leave tonight: The people of Southaven need you to go to Jackson and do your job. We have roads falling apart throughout this state, our teachers don't make enough money."

Reached by phone Friday night, Henley responded: "As a state representative, part of our job is to come back into the community where we live when we're not in session."
But Musslewhite is defending his comments.

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"I mean no personal disrespect to Representative Henley and respectfully and patiently attempted to answer her questions until it became apparent that she wanted to use the City board meeting to promote her radical anti-tax, anti-fee political ideology," he told WREG.

Henley said she didn't respond to mayor's remarks at Tuesday's meeting because she didn't want to miss out on asking him about the arena.

"If I had attempted to defend myself or respond to ... some of the statements that were really not about what we were talking about, then I would have not been allowed to speak anymore, so I didn't want to lose that opportunity," Henley said.

"Many Southaven citizens, including myself, believe she [Henley] should spend her time working on critical state issues like poor teacher pay, poor highway patrol pay, crumbling roads, and the lack of mental health care funding that affect Desoto County rather than playing radical right-wing political games in a City meeting," Musslewhite said. "I believe the people expect her to spend her time on more important issues than a $45 volleyball fee."