Perkins seeks re-election

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Mayor James Perkins Jr. asked Selmians Tuesday for a chance to continue working on the city’s progress by re-electing him mayor next term.

Perkins announced his candidacy for mayor in his office on Tuesday while surrounded by friends and family. He touted the city’s accomplishments since he entered office and discussed his plans for the future.

Concerning Selma’s level of crime, Perkins said that economic conditions effected crime rates. However, he noted that Selma’s unemployment rate was dropping. &uot;It is conceivable that we will achieve single-digit unemployment for the first time in over 30 years.&uot;

Perkins also pointed to the city’s crime task force and an upcoming evaluation of the Selma Police Department as methods of dealing with crime and using the city’s resources effectively. &uot;The City Council has agreed to bring in a consultant to tell us if we’ve got enough officers or too many, and whether or not we’re doing the right things,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m optimistic we’re dealing with the issue.&uot;

Perkins also touched on the issue of executive sessions, which are closed to the public. &uot;When I request an executive session, it deals with good name and character or the possibility of litigation,&uot; he said. &uot;The reality of council meetings, though, is that the mayor is a guest. I will comply and meet with the council whether it’s in a special session or a regular one.&uot;

According to Perkins, when he took office more than three years ago, the citizens directed him to improve Selma’s economic and educational aspects as well as the overall quality of life. &uot;I prayed and then I worked and worked and worked some more,&uot; Perkins said. &uot;Today, the city is focused and we are moving forward at a fast pace.&uot;

Perkins said that since he took office the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Authority and Tourism Bureau had consolidated into one entity &045; The Centre for Commerce. He added that the mayor’s office had substantially increased the city’s financial commitment to expanding and existing businesses. &uot;As mayor, I have personally promoted and supported every business development project within the city and many within the region,&uot; Perkins said. &uot;We have new roads and a new railroad spur at our industrial parks. We have a new shopping center, new hotel and new businesses springing up everywhere. Business expansions are going on all over our city.&uot;

Perkins didn’t just focus on new businesses, though. He also discussed improvements in city schools. According to Perkins, school safety has improved in the past three years as have tennis courts, ball fields and lighting and fencing.

Perkins has also assisted colleges. He said his office has supported both Wallace Community College Selma and Concordia College. &uot;Selma University has afforded the mayor the opportunity to serve on its board of trustees,&uot; Perkins said. &uot;It has over 100 students and is making a strong comeback.&uot;

Perkins also discussed the city’s cleaning program. Since becoming mayor, the city has torn down more than 175 dilapidated buildings and helped facilitate the renovation of 42 structures. Washington Redskins lineman Chris Samuels came to Selma in 2003 with a plan to build a subdivision of single-family homes, senior-assisted living homes and a community center.

Perkins is married to Cynthia Perkins.

He was born and raised in Selma, graduating from Selma High School’s first graduating class in 1971.