Evans looks ahead to next four yearsPublished 4:46pm Monday, September 3, 2012
Wednesday was just another day at work for Selma Mayor George Evans. There were appointments on his calendar, prep work for the upcoming budget to do, messages to return and city business to take care of.
If there was a difference to Wednesday morning for Evans, it was the relief of knowing he had won a re-election after a tough campaign, and in his words “survived.”
“Through everything, we survived and the good Lord made the decision for us to have another four years in office,” Evans said of Tuesday’s close victory over the previous two-term Selma mayor, James Perkins Jr.
Evans, who spent the final hours of Tuesday’s election “handling a situation for the city,” did not learn he had won the election until his wife received a phone call at about “8:30 or so.”
It was that time, Evans said, he took a deep breath.
“It was relief,” Evans said of the feeling he had when he heard he had won re-election. “Naturally, I would have accepted anything that would have happened. I would have moved on to something else; moved on to my personal life.
“It wasn’t just a sense of relief for me, but a sense of relief for all the people who believed in me, believed in Selma… who wanted to still continue what we started.
It was more impactful for me because of what it meant to all of them; all of those who worked so hard, those who volunteered for this campaign,” Evans said. “I could have walked away and moved on, but there were so many people here, those at city hall and with the city, who have made big investments, who would have had to make decisions about whether they would stay or would they go. Now, they don’t have to worry about facing that uneasiness.”
Although his second term doesn’t officially begin until early November, he is already working on next year’s budget and ways to improve city operations in his second term.
And, there are two big things on his to-do list; two items both he and his opponent said were paramount for Selma’s future.
“We have got to find a way to bring on board more police officers and find a way to pay our city employees more,” Evans said. “There is no doubt about it. We have got to find a way to do that.”
As for the police department, Evans not only wants to seek to have more officers — establishing a goal of having between 65 to 70 officers on the force — but finding ways to pay those officers more.
“We need to find a way so we can compete with surrounding counties and cities,” Evans said. “Hopefully, getting to the point, where we don’t have to hire new police officers, from the standpoint of those we must send to training, but being competitive enough to where we can find officers who have experience, who want to move to Selma.”
He said if the department can get to 65 to 70 officers, it would be possible to put in place — or restart — such programs as more neighborhood walking patrols, bike patrols and more.
“If we are able to find a way to get to that level, then we can make things happen,” Evans said.
He also said he plans to evaluate each of the city’s departments and the departments’ leadership in the coming weeks and months, establishing expectations for what he seeks from those departments.
“We have to do a better job in some areas, one of those is communicating,” Evans said. “And, that begins now, with me.”