My post today is intended to serve as a summary of my activities during the week concerning our local elections and to provide you with information both previously posted and unposted.
This year all City Council positions are challenged as well as the Mayor’s Office. None of the candidates during the last election had anyone running against them – they were elected and appointed with no opposition. Things are different this year so the political fervor will be greater in the City Of Semmes. New faces are adding new dimensions to the election and I encourage everyone to consider for democracy to work the people must control their government.
Another consideration that may be relevent in this year’s election is that the Mayor and City Council, earlier this year, changed the law concerning pay for the incoming Mayor and City Council members. Presently the Mayor’s position pays $12,000 a year which Mayor Hale elected to not take, and Council Members receive $50.00 per council meeting, work and regular sessions, plus $50 for each committee meeting they attend which in most cases would be $250 per month per council member.
The new rate of pay that goes into effect with the newly elected officials is a Mayor salary of $15,000 per year and City Council members receive $500 per month. Note that the Mayor and City Council could not approve any compensation for themselves at the time they agreed to change the law; they could only approve the pay for the newly elected Mayor and City Council that will take office November 1, 2016.
Whether the new faces in the election have an axe to grind or just want to step in and offer their services is still pretty much unknown. Regardless of the motive of the candidates, the citizens of Semmes now have choices. Maybe those that do not win their bid for election will have an opportunity to serve in another way – possibly to fill a vacancy or be asked to serve on a committee.
In any governing body it is not unusual for the “ins” to resent newcomers and try to prevent new blood from getting in. From what I have seen and read, over the long haul, citizens do better when there is a gradual changing of the guard and new people are given the opportunity to serve. The other side of the coin is that in most positive instances, experience counts. Election of new faces also serves as a notice to the new “ins” that they too can one day take their place among the “outs” and therefore force them to recognize the public demands good government.
My talks with individuals and business owners in Semmes still gives mixed results but so far the “undecided” are few. I will be widening the territory of my interviews to see if the percentage of those in that category of voters is constant throughout the city. Contact me if you want to voice your opinion or concern or would like to be interviewed. To date, there has been a consistent atmosphere of caution among business owners in the City Of Semmes – most are willing to talk but refuse to go public in fear of being identified and possibly punished in some way by whomever takes office November 1, 2016. I find this to be both understandable and sad.
One can find many opinions for what makes a small city great. I would like to share my thoughts:
- Put national politics aside for the moment. Let’s get our own house in order first.
- Let’s identify who has or will make this city go. It may not be the mayor or a city council member. Who is the best civic organizer, who knows the problems and who has the answers. Who are the patriots of Semmes Alabama?
- Let’s build our public-private partnerships. What entities can collaborate with the city to help improve our community? How do we provide a business atmosphere that turns businesses into participatory citizens rather than stores.
- Let’s identify the soul of Semmes. Where is the “downtown” area of Semmes? Where do we need to direct creativity and resources. How do we make Semmes something more than an east-west thoroughfare and, soon to be, a little place on the northbound escape route for South Mobile County.
- How do we offset brain drain? How do we encourage our young to stay and support the city? How open are we to different cultures with new or different ideas? How do we encourage growth without prejudice or bias?
- Identify the path we are on and correct our course if needed. Is Semmes intended to be just big enough to satisfy some or is it pushing towards an “anything is possible” destiny? Do we want to be small and comfortable or do we want to offer opportunity and challenge large enough to draw the architects and builders of the future? How do we connect yesterday, today and tomorrow?
I encourage everyone to go to Alabama League Of Municipalities website and read “What Every Potential Candidate Should Know About Municipal Government.” It will help you understand local politics and I will be referring to it in future articles. Judge for yourself if our present Mayor/City Council resemble the Mayor/City Council described there.
As time permits, I will be publishing additional interviews and additional information that may help you decide who will get your vote on August 23rd. I have confirmed interview appointments with:
- Jerry Shirey
- Chase Farley
I have discussed but not yet scheduled interviews with:
- Charles David Watts
- Tony Ebright
- Howard Smith
The following graph represents the political arena to date but changes may come about before the election on August 23, 2016. Although July 19th was the last day for qualification, some candidate applications may still be in transit and not yet public. Also, some of the candidates listed below come from word of mouth and as far as I know, not yet published elsewhere.
|City Of Semmes Local Government Candidate Status|
|Office||Incumbent||Candidate 1||Candidate 2||Candidate 3|
|Mayor||Judy Hale||Judy Hale||David Baker|
|Place #1||David Baker||Chase Farley||Charles David Watts|
|Place #2||Howard Smith||Howard Smith||Tony Ebright|
|Place #3||Lawrence Webb||Lawrence Webb||Mark Davis|
|Place #4||Renee Fransen||Renee Fransen||Terry Platt|
|Place #5||Jerry Shirey||Jerry Shirey||Tina Gaston Davis|
The political signs will be going up soon. Discussion and debate will build. Keep in mind that it is not about who has the most signs or biggest signs. It’s about the person behind the sign. Choose wisely!