Tuesday elections present options for mayor

Published 11:55 pm Saturday, August 23, 2008

Voters have four options Tuesday to pick for mayor of Selma.

Three of the candidates appeared recently before The Selma Times-Journal Editorial Board. Only Louis Dixon did not accept the invitation.

The candidates are varied in their approaches to leading the day-to-day operations of the city. But the three men also seem similar because of their desires to see Selma grow and prosper.

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George Evans

For the last 7 3/4 years, Evans has led the city council as its president. The 63-year-old is a former educator, having 35 years of experience in school administration management and four years with the state Department of Education.

He has supported the present administration on a number of issues, but hasn’t been afraid to vote his conscience, Evans said.

He said Selma’s greatest strength is its people and its history.

The city’s weakness, Evans said, is its people’s failure to get along.

“Industry is not coming here as long as we’re fighting and fussing,” he said.

His top priorities, if elected mayor, would include, Evans said: improving safety and security in Selma; rebuilding trust in city government; brining the community together as a whole, and at the same time, improving Selma’s image; improving education by establishing meaningful dialogues with the school systems in the area; and reviewing ordinances and codes to ensure their enforcement.

If elected, Evans said, he would take six months to a year to study the operations at City Hall and the people in charge of those operations before making any rash changes. “I don’t know a whole lot about them,” he said.

Evans said he would surround himself with key people.

John Jowers

Although he has never held office, Jowers has been a candidate before, having sought unsuccessfully a council seat in a prior election.

Jowers has been married for 27 years. He has four children, all of which have attended or are attending college. He is an automotive technician. Jowers has lived most of his life in Selma, having spent 10 years away in Denver.

Jowers said he wants to promote tourism in Selma. That process would include rehabilitation of buildings downtown and capitalizing on the people and places that played a role in the voting rights movement and the Civil War.

On the issue of public safety, Jowers said, city police officers and firefighters need the respect of citizens. However, those public safety workers also need training to give them enough knowledge to earn that respect.

The court system in the city needs improvement, Jowers said. The candidate advocates a night court one day a week for working people to attend.

Jowers said Selma’s greatest strength is its history.

The city’s weakness, he said, is the city council.

Jowers wants to establish a good working relationship with the council, if he is elected mayor.

“People in our city government don’t understand,” he said. “They don’t realize the nature of the working person, the concerns they have and the problems they have.”

James Perkins

James Perkins has led the city for nearly eight years. He has said he believes his mission is to lead Selma. He seeks another term of office to complete some tasks, such as a riverwalk that would create a tourism destination downtown.

Perkins, 55, is the only candidate with experience as mayor in this race.

During the last eight years, Perkins said, “I have developed vast relationships needed by Selma to help lift us to the next level. I have the relationships. I know how to leverage them for the benefit of Selma.”

He has advocated construction of a new high school for the city school system, which failed, but has vowed to come back with a proposal for fundraising.

Additionally, Perkins has advocated a bond issue to help with equipment to rehabilitate the city’s infrastructure, improve some city buildings and develop tools for public safety. That bond issue failed earlier this year, but he has said he will come back with another approach.

Through a bond issue and grant searches, Perkins said public safety, public works, recreation and public buildings will receive improvements.

One of his goals, said Perkins, “Continue improving citizen health, healthcare, housing and government operations.”

Under his watch, Perkins said, he has directed the rehabilitation of The St. James Hotel, seen more jobs come to the area and undertaken a comprehensive study of public safety that resulted in hiring a new police chief.