Kiwanis Club offers candidates chance to speak

Published 8:19 am Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Members of the Kiwanis Club got a first look at the municipal election candidates during a forum Monday.

Only candidates facing opposition spoke, which included the mayoral candidates, incumbent Earl Niven and David Birdsong; Place 2 candidates, Cammie Sanders and incumbent Tony Picklesimer; Place 3 candidates, incumbent James Ferguson and Robert Barnes; and Place 4 candidates, Keith Roberts and incumbent Mike Denton.

All the candidates had five minutes apiece to speak about their qualifications and plans for office.

Most candidates put Chelsea’s growth in population and in business as an important facet of their platforms.

Picklesimer said his experience as a former president and vice president of Sylacauga’s chamber of commerce could be invaluable to helping Chelsea grow.

“The growth of Chelsea is very important to me,” he said.

Like Picklesimer, Sanders said she would help continue the city’s progress.

“The more businesses that are here, the more taxes are brought in,” said Sanders. “The more opportunities we have in Chelsea, the less we have to drive.”

Sanders said she would like to see a community pool that could bring in revenue.

Denton, who has been on the city council for four years, said he would like to see Chelsea grow by building a new public library to replace the one currently in City Hall. He also said bringing in new jobs is essential.

“I think it’s time for the city to aggressively go after a new office park,” Denton said.

He emphasized the necessity of civic experience to take on the city council position, saying he has worked countless hours attending workshops and doing research to be ready to do what was right for the city.

“Municipal government is just not an easy thing,” he said. “It’s a very complex thing.”

Niven also chose to emphasize experience as an important qualification for the mayor’s job.

“I’ve been your mayor for 12 years,” he said. “There is nobody in this room that has given their heart to a city any more than I have.”

On the other end, Niven’s opposition, David Birdsong, said it might be time for someone else to step up.

“I am not the evil person. I am not the anti-Earl,” he said. “I have been waiting my entire life for this opportunity. We need to reinvigorate the city of Chelsea.”

Birdsong said that keeping Chelsea beautiful was one of his biggest priorities.

Roberts also said he would like to focus on Chelsea’s natural assets.

“I believe in a first-class parks and recreation department,” he said. “I look forward to helping them improve.”

He said he believes Chelsea should have an entrance to Oak Mountain State Park, which would help bring visitors to the area and bring in revenue. He suggested that the entrance could be along Highway 11.

Some candidates just wanted to be a part of helping Chelsea get better.

Ferguson said he wanted to be on the city council to help complete projects begun in the past four years, while Barnes said he was running in order to be a part of the changes he sees around him.

The election is Aug. 26.