The Times-Journal’s candidate endorsements

Published 10:27pm Saturday, August 18, 2012

Selma City Mayoral Race: Times-Journal endorses George Evans

It is a rare occasion when you have two candidates vying for the same office who both have a record to run on from the very same office. In the case of Selma’s mayoral race, you have such a situation.

On one side of the coin you have former Selma mayor James Perkins, with eight years of record to both run on and run away from. On the other side, you have current mayor George Evans, who has one term nearly under his belt.

Based on those records, the tone of their leadership and the challenges faced by both, the Times-Journal offers its endorsement in this race to George Evans and his re-election bid.

It is not a clear-cut choice as some would like to think. The endorsement is not as clear-cut as some would hope.

There are shortcomings with each candidate, but when the options are weighed and tested, Evans has earned another term.

The voters of Selma have not only supported Evans in electing him as mayor in 2008, they did so again when they overwhelmingly approved a multi-million dollar bond issue in 2010. They should do so again in 2012.

There is concern about the city’s current debt load, but the debt taken on in recent years has focused on city operations, renovations, upgrades and solidifying the pension plan for city employees.

Current year sales tax revenues are higher than last year and recent economic announcements and industrial expansions show Selma is on the right track.

Is there more work to be done? Absolutely.

Under Evans, the effort to move Selma forward has been done in a way of consensus building and teamwork. There is an improved relationship with Valley Grande and the Dallas County Commission, working to build the area together, rather than individually.

While we offer this endorsement, we do challenge the mayor to live up to his commitments of finding ways to increase funding for the Selma Police Department, seeking ways to increase the number of officers and to find ways to increase their level of pay.

We challenge the mayor to get after developers to finish the apparently stalled amphitheatre project and riverfront development.

We challenge the mayor to focus on infrastructure challenges involving drainage and sewage, areas where much work is needed.

We challenge the mayor to find a solution to the inefficient city garbage system, or get out of the business all together.

We offer these challenges to Mayor Evans because we feel he is the right person to find the right answers to the challenges facing our communities. And it is with this belief in him that we offer this endorsement.

President, Selma City Council: Times-Journal endorses Corey Bowie

It’s not very often where a person seeking a higher elected office had a few months to test drive the position. In the case of Selma City Councilman Corey Bowie, he not only had valuable on-the-job training filling in for then-ill council president Cecil Williamson, Bowie proved he could manage the meetings more efficiently than many would have expected.

In the race for President of the Selma City Council, the Times-Journal offers its endorsement to Bowie, due to his experience on the council, his interim performance and the temperament he brings to an at-times volatile council environment.

As a member of the council, Bowie has been a quiet, calm, but decisive figure on the council, offering leadership in an effort to improve safety in downtown Selma’s entertainment district when it wasn’t the most popular of efforts.

He was methodical and persistent in his efforts to have a police substation placed on Martin Luther King Jr. Street near GWC Homes; a project many in that area were urging be completed and completed quickly.

In the end — and compared to those against he is running — it is our opinion that Bowie is the clear choice, and the best choice, to lead the Selma City Council for the next four years.

Ward 2, Selma City Council: Times-Journal endorses Susan Keith

She is passionate about children. She is passionate about beautification. She is passionate about recycling. And, based on her service as a member of the Selma City Council, there is little doubt Susan Keith is passionate about the city of Selma.

It is for this passion, and attention to her constituents — and the city as a whole — that the Times-Journal offers its endorsement to Keith in her re-election bid for the Ward 2 post on the Selma City Council.

In the coming months, crews should begin work on the repaving efforts along Old Cahawba Road and Medical Center Parkway, thanks to funding from the State of Alabama. But it was the joint partnership of Keith and Mayor Evans — along with city staffers — who put Selma, and specifically those roads in desperate need of attention, in line for the state funding.

Keith has been a staunch supporter of local charities, schools and organizations who aim to help and build Selma.

The voters of Ward 2 have a strong leader, strong representative in Keith and should support her.

Ward 4, Selma City Council: Times-Journal endorses Angela Benjamin

Attend any Selma City Council meeting and you will think — at times — the meeting is a Ward 4 meeting. Attend any Selma City Council meeting and you’ll understand why it is our belief that there is no bigger cheerleader and advocate for their ward than Ward 4 councilwoman Angela Benjamin.

It is because of this hard work and dedication to her ward that the Times-Journal offers Benjamin our endorsement in her re-election bid back to the Selma City Council.

From nearly day one in office, Benjamin has fought for projects and improvements in her ward, at times appearing to monopolize the entire Selma City Council meeting.

But, as a resident of Ward 4, isn’t that what you would want?

There might be no bigger evidence of her dedication to the ward than the recent completion of the KaBoom! Playground on First Avenue and Green Street; a project she began seeking funding for weeks after taking office.

Without a doubt, Benjamin has done the work and earned the right for another term on the Selma City Council.

 Ward 6, Selma City Council: Times-Journal endorses B.L. Tucker

Most days — and not just during a campaign season — you will find Rev. B.L. Tucker somewhere in Ward 6. You might find him cutting grass, visiting elderly or attending an event.

Rarely does Tucker make noise — or news — during council meetings, but at times that is a refreshing change from others who might seek political office. Instead, it is known that Tucker works behind the scenes, working for those in his ward.

In his response to a Times-Journal questionnaire, Tucker said members of the council “are expected to be problem-solvers, to be responsive, to be fair, and to act in the nest interest of the community. For the past twelve years I have served in the Selma City Council for Ward 6.”

We agree and it is for that the Times-Journal offers its endorsement to Tucker in his re-election effort to the Selma City Council.

Tucker won a razor-thin election in 2008 and many of the same factors are there this time around.

It is our opinion that Ward 6 is best represented on the council by Rev. Tucker.

Ward 7, Selma City Council: Times-Journal endorses Leroy Miles

There are times you look at an election and find clear-cut reasons to offer an endorsement to one candidate or another. There are times you look at an election and face a much harder choice. Such is the case with the Times-Journal’s endorsement in Ward 7.

In the end, is the belief this candidate has a bright future in Selma — along with a hard working past — that we offer our endorsement to Leroy Miles.

Much like his opponent, Miles has a deep education background and a love for children, but it is the possibilities for growth and development in Ward 7 that we offer our support to Miles.

He has a record of positively impacting the lives of children as his role as Selma High’s head football coach and as an educator, and has played a major role in helping his wife in the annual organization of Dallas County’s Relay for Life.

Much in the way our endorsement in this race was quite close — and narrowly decided — it is our expectation election day will be as well.

 Ward 8, Selma City Council: Times-Journal endorses Ronald Lane

Ward 8 is an area of town far too often in the news and far too rarely for positive changes. That has not been the case in the last four years. The development of the Water Avenue area in Ward 8, specially that of the downtown area has been amazing and the recent opening of the police substation in GWC Homes will provide dividends in crime reduction and community relations.

All of these things have been pushed for by outgoing Ward 8 council member Corey Bowie and will continue to be the focus of the candidate the Times-Journal feels should be the next representative for Ward 8, Ronald Lane.

A majority of the candidates running for this seat have no experience on the council, but Lane has worked closely with projects in the ward and it is our opinion he remains the clear choice in continuing the improvements the ward has seen in recent years.

Lane is an educator, a coach, a mentor and, if the voters believe as we do, the next Ward 8 representative on the Selma City Council.

 President, Selma City School Board: Times-Journal endorses Henry Hicks Sr.

The last four years have proved to be an extremely tumultuous time for the Selma City School Board. It has been ugly at times, unproductive at times and found itself in the midst of legal battles only television writers could have dreamed up.

Through it all though, the board has been able to tackle tough decisions — in an economic climate few could ever have imagined.

Although we have been in staunch opposition to some of his decisions and comments, Henry Hicks Sr. has managed to lead the school board — at times kicking and crying — through some of the worst of this ongoing financial storm.

It is our belief that Hicks provides the best choice in the race for president of the Selma City School Board and has earned another term in office.

With that said, we challenge Mr. Hicks to take into account the financial warnings his opponents and fellow board members have signaled. We challenge Mr. Hicks to move past the continuous ways of his first term and focus on consensus building and far less drama.

Although the new Selma High School is completed, there are divisive decisions ahead and we hope Mr. Hicks remembers that he represents all of Selma as president of the school board.

In this race for president, it is the Times-Journal’s opinion Hicks is the right choice and deserves re-election.

District 1,  Selma City School Board: Times-Journal endorses Alphonse ‘Al’ Perry

When it comes to the Selma City School Board, finances are at the core of most discussions and most problems. It is for this reason mainly the Times-Journal endorses Alphonse “Al” Perry as the next District 1 representative on the Selma City School Board.

In a story announcing his candidacy, we feel Perry summed up why he should be the next District 1 representative.

“When we reflect on the unfortunate events and issues that have plagued the school system over the past several years, it is essential for us to realize we must do things much differently going forward,” Perry said.

We couldn’t agree more.

We believe Perry brings the right focus, the right demeanor and the right skills to the Selma City School Board.

It is with complete confidence that the Times-Journal supports Perry and his bid for District 1 position on the Selma City School Board.

He brings the skills our system, our children need.

 District 2, Selma City School Board: Times-Journal endorses Brenda Randolph-Obomanu

It would be a shame for Brenda Randolph-Obomanu’s term as District 2’s representative on the Selma City School Board to be marginalized on one decision last October.

As a member of the Selma City School Board, Obomanu believed the direction of the school system was going in the wrong direction and that improper decisions had been made. For that we agreed with Obomanu and believed the fervent and sometimes mean and disgusting criticism she received was unfair and unwarranted.

She remains the lone educator on the school board and has been a hard and fast advocate of teachers and administrators — sometimes to a fault.

But, it is for this focus, this experience and the ability to face what at times is unwavering and misplaced criticism that the Times-Journal supports Obomanu’s bid for re-election to the school board.

On a school board that is likely to see dramatic change this election cycle, a stable influence like Obomanu will be tremendously valuable.

Selma City School Board District 3: not offered

There are plenty of reasons to offer the Times-Journal’s endorsement in the race for the District 3 representative member of the Selma City School Board to Frank Chestnut Jr.

He has the experience of serving on the board, working to lead the system through tough economic conditions. He has been hardened by tough decisions and tough criticism for some decisions and votes.

And, more than any, his efforts to prevent the closing of Byrd Elementary School and the School of Discovery should have not only earned him this endorsement and re-election to the board.

But, a recent altercation that led to a guilty verdict of misdemeanor harassment in Selma Municipal Court will likely be what is most remembered.

In keeping with our recent editorial stances — calling for Dr. Donald Jefferson to step down after uttering a racial slur, and calling on board member Holland Powell to apologize after derogatory remarks made against those on welfare — we cannot offer our endorsement to Mr. Chestnut, nor do we feel his opponent is ready for such a position.

With that in mind, the Times-Journal withholds any endorsement in this particular race.

  • D-man

    Pops… i must admit… sonetimes I agree with you. Sometimes i wonder here you’ve been and since youre not living here, who’s giving you your infornmation. Today, i wonder what you’ve been smoking.

    But I realize the truth is that you obviously were not living here during the previous administration because had u been here during that time and had half a brain, a concious and any discernment, you would be publically supporting Mayor Evans and disregard the other candidate as the cancer to selma that he is.

    • popdukes12

      D-man…Unlike your emotional opinion, I only stated “facts” here and did not mention any other candidate for any office. As for “who’s giving you your information”, I will cite the following: The STJ, The live broadcasts of the city council meetings, The 2010,11, and 12 budgets as posted on the city’s web site, the minutes for council meetings as posted on the City’s web site, The 2010 population census, and everything else outlined is on the City’s web site. As for the statement/opinion concerning ” being overshadowed by a more dominate personality”, I’ve know the lady that retired since the 4th grade, and this was a compliment to Ms. Griffeth for attempting to manage with that lady watching her every move. Which fact is incorrect? Awaiting reply. pops

      P.s. You can send me an IM on Facebook if you wish.

      • D-man

        Pops, let’s cut through the politics. Who would you vote for as mayor, if you could vote, in this upcoming election?

        My brain and emotions work together. I easily seperate the two, and in the end the brain is the boss. That doesn’t mean, I don’t say/share my thoughts. I’ve lived through the last three administrations, and I don’t side with someone because I like them.

        If I felt perkins would do a great job as Mayor, yet I hated his guts, I would vote for him if I thought he would be good for Selma. How “unselfish” and “unemotional a decision” is that?

        And as far as what you call “facts”… where were you when all the people moved out of the city limits to valley grande during all the turmoil of Perkins “reign?” Where were you when Perkins was looking for more revenue to increase his budget (even though he was the cause of many to leave in the first palce)? Where were you when word got out he wanted to annex surrounding areas, everyone got so upset (because of his poor leadership and fiscal spending) that they actually created another entire city? Were you listening to Franklin Fortier and ilk on the radio when they were all blaming it on whites being “racist” when the first black mayor went into office (although they didn’t account for all the african americans that moved to Valley Grande as well… were they racists also?)?

        also, why is either of us even debating these issues on this forum as noone else is doing it? Who is actually reading it?

        Maybe you and I are just “venting”… maybe you’re trying to bring something back… maybe I’m trying to keep something from coming back… But either way, we seem to care enough (about something anyway) to at least be talking about it… Very few people seem to even care about anything anymore when it comes to this kind of stuff

        But whatever the case, i’ll catch you later… and I won’t delete you on facebook (because I’m not emotional like that)… :)

        When you come through town, look me up and maybe we can catch lunch together and discuss real issues… maybe do an aireal view of the forest, so we don’t get all entangled in the trees (bushes, vines, briars, roses)

      • popdukes12

        I’ll be at my place in Selma Monday (for a couple of days). I’ll send you my phone number on Facebook Message and hopefully we can “do” lunch at Lanny’s (2115 Minter Ave.) after we vote Tuesday. Pops

      • D-man

        I’ll call you; either one of the Lannie’s is good. BBQ is not the best on my stomach however, but I’m sure we can come up with something good to eat (and talk about) so that we can meet at high noon…

  • popdukes12

    O.K., This is far too much to comment on in one comment, so, I will approach them one at a time.
    My problems with the current Mayor’s office direction:
    1). There are seven quasi-governmental boards that have a direct effect on Selma citizens (Planning, Adjustments, tree,personnel etc.)(see under Mayor’s section under the city web site). The mayor’s contention is that other than appointing the members of these boards, he has nothing to do with them. Many of these positions are paid through city funds, and the mayor does have influence. looking at the rosters, many of these people are serving ex-facto (outside their terms), meet irregularly, and no public access to the minutes of these meetings. As a rule, you will find these boards do not reflect the demographics of Selma and appears to be used as a reward for past election efforts.
    2)Within a year and a half of the last election, a massive sidewalk project (approximately 117 repairs at approximately $92,000) was completed (outside of the budget)in the historic section of Selma and appear as nothing more than repayment for support for the last election.
    3) While the economic centers of Selma have shifted to the Highland Ave. corridor, little has been spent in that area compared to the $millions spent on downtown in hopes of attracting a shrinking tourism dollar. Groundbreaking is scheduled for an amphitheater (just in time for re-election) that is projected to cost $3 million and the City Council voted to lock in funds of no more than $640K. How is he going to do that?
    3)The budget for the core functions of the city (police, fire, public works) have been cut or stagnant over the past three years while city hall functions have grown in IT, planning, and the like.
    4) No consideration is given to the “Comprehensive Master Plan” as submitted and approved ADEM. This can be seen in code enforcement, tree planting and cutting,etc.
    5) The “2010 Landlord/ Tenant Act” which was passed by the state legislature and is now state law and describes responsibilities for renter’s garbage collection and property upkeep is being ignored. Landlords contribute to campaigns I’m guessing.
    6) Lack of oversight on landfill problem behind the sportsplex and the expenditure of $1.4 million on the stadium.
    7) The foot dragging (3 years) on the marina.
    8) I have attempted to stay clear of personal attributes. 9) There seems to be disproportional spending on the “old money” of Selma when compared to the vast majority of the city’s constituency.

    This should be enough for now…………Pops

    • popdukes12

      A city’s budget reflects a city’s priorities. The more they spend on a department, the more valuable the city feels the need for that departments activity. Check this out…The 2012 for the planning and development office is $299,867.00. Now consider that seven of the eight functions listed on the Selma city web site are directly related to the downtown commercial activities/area. $300K is equal to the sales tax received from $10 million in retail sales. Ms. Charlotte Griffeth is finally in control of this department after being overshadowed by a more dominate personality until the other lady’s retirement a year and a half ago. this is still too much money for this department’s function…in my opinion….pops.

  • popdukes12

    A couple of typos—Ward 4 doesn’t extend to the downtown area (see ward 8 section), and Mr. Chestnut has never been on the “council” (see district 3 section), he was on the “board”. You may wish to correct. pops

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