Variety of faces, opinions enter race

Published 5:55 pm Wednesday, August 13, 2008

There’s no doubt new faces will fill city hall this year with the retirement of longtime Mayor Bobby Hayes and battles between two sets of incumbent council members.

“For the first time in 24 years, we have a chance to make a change. Pelham is at a crossroads, and we must decide which direction we take in the future,” said mayoral candidate Don Murphy.

The municipal election forum held Tuesday at Pelham High School showcased multiple faces running for council, as well as the five men vying for mayor.

The forum also brought up discussions of fiscal responsibility, communication with residents, improvement of city services, roads and beautification.

Jim Phillips said as mayor he wants to ensure fiscal responsibility.

“The city has never been in the red, and it has always been in the black and that’s how it’s got to stay,” Phillips said. “We got to make sure we’re not out spending money and it doesn’t benefit you.”

Phillips also mentioned a desire to bring in more events and playground equipment for families to enjoy.

Tim Spinosi seconded the sentiment of attracting more events to Pelham. He said it would be critical to improving revenue streams and quality of life.

“We have the resources to bring in festivals and tourism events and can improve our quality of life and the education of our students because the money generated could go back into our schools for computers or into the community to improve parks,” Spinosi said.

Bringing in more revenue also means attracting more businesses – something that topped Don Murphy’s list.

“Commercial industry to Pelham is what we need,” Murphy said. “I can do the job as far as bringing in industry into Pelham, good industry and clean industry.”

He also wanted to encourage more citizen involvement and increase communication.

Jim Martin meanwhile said he would tackle issues running up and down Highway 31.

“I think one of the main things we need to handle is the illegal immigrants we have in our community. Not only the illegals but everyone driving our streets with no license, no insurance. I think that’s some of the areas that should have been taken care of a long time ago,” Martin said.

He also said that Highway 31 was an eyesore and that he would work with the beautification board to make it look better.

“Despite what you might think or what you might have heard, the sky is not falling in Pelham,” mayoral candidate Gary Waters said. “In a time of war, in a time of economic downturn … we continue to provide and improve upon our world-class services. Pride has never left Pelham.”

Waters said that all could be improved upon by pursuing growth overall in a managed way. He said one important thing would be to get a handle on traffic because he said increased congestion would stump any efforts for potential growth.