I will demand what’s best for our city

Published 4:41 pm Thursday, February 23, 2017

Growing up in Selma, I never thought I would have the opportunity to be elected mayor. I always had a passion for this city, and I’ve spent my life working in the church and on all levels of government to try to make it a better place for all of us.

Selma comes with a rich history — from the Battle of Selma during the Civil War to the Bloody Sunday and Selma to Montgomery March that culminated with the passage of the Voting Rights Act. We’ve overcome tremendous obstacles together, but we still have work to do.

As your mayor, it’s my job to do what’s necessary to move obstacles that restrict our city — only then can we grow and reach our potential.

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When we look at the biggest obstacles we face, they all stem from a major issue: lack of funding. Inadequate resources for public safety, education and infrastructure means that City Hall faces tough decisions every day about how to meet the city’s needs with our modest budget.

When I was in the Legislature, I routinely criticized Republican lawmakers for the state’s budget woes — I reminded them that budgets show priorities because we can’t afford to have everything we want. As your mayor, I hold firm on that position.

That’s why my office has decided to enforce city policies that require private events to pay for the city services they use.

When a private event comes to Selma — whether it’s he Bridge Crossing Jubilee, the Battle of Selma reenactment, or a wedding or other social celebration — it isn’t right to ask the taxpayers to subsidize the cost of the event.

This isn’t about playing politics — it’s about taking responsibility for the money that has been sent to City Hall from the budgets of Selma families and business. It’s our job to spend that money as wisely as those who earned it.

The money the city spends to provide services for The Bridge Crossing Jubilee — roughly $33,000 per year — could be used to hire an additional police officer to help keep our communities safe. It could be used to buy new equipment for our fire fighters. It could be used to help repair our potholes and provide resources for our community for longer than one weekend.

This is about a long-term strategy to grow the city of Selma, which requires us to look past short-sighted approaches and doing what’s easy. We can’t fix our problems overnight, but we won’t make any progress if we continue along the same path year after year. When I ran for mayor, I did it because I wanted to help make our city safer, our children smarter and our streets cleaner. But to do that, we have to make everyone play by the same rules, which means enforcing the policies that protect our taxpayers. My door is always open, and I’m willing to compromise, hear the other side and admit when I’m wrong — after all, people who demand 100 percent of what they want 100 percent of the time rarely make good leaders. But I will 100 percent demand what’s best for this city as long as I’m your mayor, and that applies to this issue and all others that come across my desk.