Hopefuls speak at park

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The heat of a May morning didn’t keep candidates away from a public forum at Bloch Park on Tuesday.

Several candidates for city, county and state elections gathered underneath the shade of a tree and spoke to about 50 voters. Gene Hisel, who is running for mayor, was the first to address the crowd.

Hisel said that crime was the city’s main priority. “We’ve got a high crime rate in Selma,” Hisel said. “If you think a police presence on the streets is not a deterrent on crime, you’re going against the facts.”

Email newsletter signup

According to Hisel, citizens must be involved in organizations such as Neighborhood Watch in order to curb crime.

Concerning industry, Hisel said the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce had done well bringing jobs here, though he noted that Selma needed less controversy if more are to come.

Hisel asked voters to approach their government with suggestions on how to assist existing businesses. “When we make a mistake, let’s admit it, fix it and move on,” Hisel said. “Good ole’ boy politics is gone. It does not work anymore.”

Yusuf Salaam, who is also running for mayor, wasn’t present on Tuesday, but Thomas Towns spoke for him. “We are in the same boat,” Towns said. “If the ship is sinking, we are all going to drown.”

According to Towns, Selma has problems with crime, infrastructure, a lack of jobs and a dropping population – problems Towns said Salaam could help solve. “People now have a chance to bail water out of the boat,” Towns said. “The people own this city. The mayor is just a representative of the people. Salaam has the humility and sensitivity to be mayor.”

One county candidate also spoke to those assembled at Bloch Park on Tuesday. Curtis Williams, who is running for Dallas County Commissioner District 3, noted several programs the commission has enacted, including the summer feeding and recreation program for youth. The program exists in several sites across the county, Williams said. “It gives the youth a place to go, something to do,” Williams said.

According to Williams, the county commission has a $8.3 million budget, which is used to pave and maintain roads – a goal Williams said he plans on continuing.

Answering a question about funds for mental health, Williams said that the county would continue to provide monies. “We’ll always have a place for that,” Williams said.

A representative for U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, Kobi Little, took a few moments to discuss Davis’ accomplishments since taking office in 2002. “Artur Davis is now in Washington, D.C., working for affordable housing and good healthcare,” Little said. He’s been working for us, he’s been coming to see about us.”

Dallas County District Court Judge candidates Bob Armstrong and Jimmy Nunn also spoke on Tuesday as did Fourth Judicial Circuit Court Judge candidate Marvin Wiggins.

Lewis Fincher Jr., political liaison with Cahaba Consumer Affairs, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, said his organization sponsored Tuesday’s forum because it wanted people with disabilities to learn about the candidates