SPRINGFIELD — Even though Springfield’s wheel of city government has three new hands on it, don’t expect any hard turns one way or another.
Jenny Denney, Mallory Jenkins and Dee Moncrief have expressed general satisfaction with Springfield’s direction. The trio was sworn in as Springfield City Council members during a meeting at City Hall on Jan. 11.
They joined Mayor Bart Alderman, Mayor Pro Tem Justin Cribbs, Steve Shealy and Gary Weitman.
“I think this is the first time this many women have served (on the city council),” Denney said.
“I think it’s real cool that three women are taking over,” Jenkins joked.
Denny, a Georgia Ports Authority employee, and Jenkins, a dental hygienist, said they weren’t motivated to run by any grievances with the previous council.
“I don’t have any issues with anything,” Jenkins said. “I think it’s just going to be fun to be a part of how the city is growing and how I will have some say-so in what is going on and what needs to be done.”
Denny became familiar with Moncrief, a real estate agent, through their shared time on the Planning/Zoning Board. She has known Jenkins much longer.
“Mallory, when she was a young toddler, was my next-door neighbor,” Denney said.
Jenkins remembers those days well.
“I was three or four years old going to play with her next door,” Jenkins said, “so I’ve known Mrs. Jenny my whole life. I don’t know Mrs. Dee.
“It’s kind of like new meeting her.”
Taking a leadership role in government is also new to Jenkins. She hasn’t served on the Planning/Zoning Board or any other government entity.
“I’ve never done anything but clean people’s teeth,” Jenkins said. “This is definitely a first time for me and I think it’s going to be exciting because Springfield is just changing.
“I was born and raised in Springfield — I went to Effingham County schools and everything — and in just my 26 years of being alive it has completely changed.
“I think it is only going to get better.”
Jenkins said she doesn’t expect to be overly vocal on the council but plans to provide input about how it can improve the lives of young families.
“Imagine a Hallmark movie,” Jenkins said. “That’s what I tell people Springfield is like.”
Springfield has undergone an economic renaissance in recent years, resulting in new businesses and refurbished buildings that used to be in a state of decay.
“The Downtown Development Authority has done a lot for that but Springfield has, too,” Denney said. “I am so thankful that it is building back up and people are coming downtown. People are shopping in Springfield.”
Downtown Springfield absorbed a major economic hit when Ga. Hwy 21 was rerouted to the western edge of the city in 1997. Many storefronts were left vacant by businesses that withered away.
“I tell everybody I know, ‘You’ve got to come to Downtown Springfield,’” Denney said. “If they haven’t been there in awhile, people are amazed at what’s going on.”
Jenkins concurs wholeheartedly with Denney’s sentiments.
“Anybody who visits Springfield always wants to come back because we’ve got the restaurants, we’ve got the antique stores and now we’ve got clothing boutiques,” Jenkins said. “It’s really come a long way. If you need to go get a gift for somebody, you don’t have to go to Pooler or Savannah. You can buy for somebody in Springfield.
“I just know, as a woman, that makes things a lot easier.”