Candidates square off – Potential leaders speak to Columbiana residents

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2004

About 200 Columbiana residents gathered at Shelby County High School Monday night to hear what their municipal candidates had to offer.

The forum, hosted by the Shelby County Reporter and the Columbiana Merchants & Professionals Association, was held so residents could &uot;learn as much about the upcoming election as possible to make the best decision possible for the future of Columbiana,&uot; Reporter publisher Tim Prince told the crowd.

Speaking at the event were candidates for each of the council district seats and mayor. The election is set for next Tuesday, Aug. 24 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Incumbent Mayor Allan Lowe, who is running for re-election, urged citizens to &uot;keep the leadership our city deserves.&uot;

&uot;This administration (the past four years) has had a positive impact on each and every part of life in Columbiana,&uot; Lowe said indicating his platform seeks to continue the responsible government of the past four years, &uot;a government that is responsible for its actions and responsive to the people.&uot;

He said the mayor must have a vision. His, he said, is to &uot;keep the city’s heritage and small-town charm while continuing to meet the progress.&uot;

The mayor, he said, must also be involved in civic organizations and support city functions as well as be able to represent the city successfully to others in the county and state.

&uot;Speaking engagements, networking opportunities and conferences must be used to help improve the city,&uot; he said.

Mayoral challenger Howell Horn pledged to treat everyone fairly. He described his leadership style as casual.

&uot;I hope you see the way I’m dressed – casually but nicely. My leadership style is the same way,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m a hands-on kind of person.&uot;

Horn said he had a simple &uot;platform – honest, open, sincere, efficient government.&uot;

He told those gathered that he would &uot;listen to your ideas for city government.&uot;

As to the future of downtown Columbiana, Horn said he would like to see more cooperation between the city administration, the Merchants & Professionals Association and the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce.

Horn said he had been asked his feelings about city departments.

&uot;I will tell you this in my own words – this city has dedicated people in every department,&uot; he said.

District 1

Present for District 1 were incumbent Leslie Whiting and challenger Freda Abrams.

Abrams spoke of the city’s strengths including the close-knit community which would pull together with a common goal.

&uot;Columbiana is a beautiful place to live,&uot; she said. &uot;We plan on living here for a long time, so I might as well give (the city) my all and all.&uot;

Whiting said he also loves Columbiana.

&uot;It’s the best place to raise your kids, a really exciting place to be,&uot; he said.

Whiting said the city faces a variety of challenges in the future including improvements to streets, sidewalks and the sewage system in a cost effective manner.

District 2

Two newcomers are facing off in the District 2 race – Derrick Bryant and Cory Crowe.

Bryant said he decided to run for city council when he &uot;looked at the direction the city was going and liked it. I wanted to be a part of it.&uot;

He sees economic growth as an important part of the city’s future.

&uot;Without commercial (economic) growth, the city has nothing to grow on,&uot; he said.

Crowe said he had been part of Columbiana his entire life.

&uot;Like Corey,&uot; he said, &uot;God gave me the peace to run for this.&uot;

He said he was unsure how much time would be needed to be a city leader; however, &uot;If elected, (I will spend) whatever’s necessary to make sure the job is done correctly.&uot;

District 3

Current councilmember Tim Billingsley, who is up for re-election, is facing newcomers Buddy Bird and Brian Stevens.

Billingsley said for him, it’s all been about quality of life.

&uot;With four more years looming ahead, I’m not done yet,&uot; he said. &uot;I would appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve District 3. You’ll get the best I’ve got to give.&uot;

Bird said it was the influence of his uncle, well-known columnist and civic leader Skillet Bird, which inspired him to seek the District 3 seat on the council.

&uot;The fact that we’ve lived in different cities is an advantage,&uot; Bird said. &uot;I’ll listen to all of you and I’ll represent you and address each of your concerns with the council.&uot;

Stevens said the theme of his candidacy is &uot;to continue growth and progress through honesty, hard work and leadership.&uot;

&uot;I am dedicated to coming through the district and making myself available to everybody.

&uot;Columbiana is going in the right direction, and I think I can help it with some insight because I wasn’t born here,&uot; Stevens said.

District 4

Incumbent councilman for District 4 Tom Seale is running without opposition.

Seale spoke to the crowd about issues he was most pleased with.

&uot;In the last four years, we have made the largest investment in this city’s infrastructure in our history,&uot; he said.

District 5

Incumbent councilmember Ouida Mayfield spoke for her re-election campaign for the District 5 council seat.

Mayfield said she has not completed all she set out to do on the council.

&uot;The growth and progress we’ve made have been positive, have been made with public involvement and by using experts to aid in comprehensive planning; but we’ve not completed all the things we have wanted to complete,&uot; she said.

&uot;We work better and achieve more when we have strong leadership.