Calera political candidates address issues
By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer
CALERA – Three mayoral candidates and eight City Council candidates shared their opinions during the Calera political forum at Calera High School Aug. 14.
Questions for the candidates were collected by the Calera Chamber of Commerce and divided into categories for mayoral, council and all candidates.
Mayor Jon Graham, who is seeking re-election, faced off against City Councilmen Ed Gentry and Mike Roberson.
The mayoral candidates were asked about problems challenging Calera.
“Our finances are our big challenge,” Graham said. “I will seek to recruit new businesses.”
Graham also said he anticipates improving U.S. 31 through Calera, which would invite businesses to build across the highway from Walmart and create an “economic engine.”
Roberson said the bridge over Interstate 65 near Walmart is an “obvious problem.”
Gentry agreed that the Interstate 65 bridge is one of the city’s main issues.
“It will create everything this city has ever thought of because this city is a trucker city,” Gentry said. “Being able to get in and out of a city is most vitally important. That will solve a lot of our problems.”
The candidates responded to the proposed 1-cent sales tax increase to cover new park and recreation costs.
“I’m not opposed to it, but I would like to have feedback from the community,” Roberson said.
Roberson also said he wants to be certain the city is “financially sound” to avoid implementing the tax.
“If the economy is suffering, it means the people are suffering,” Roberson said. “I would not put an extra tax on anyone when the economy’s that bad.”
Graham said he would not be opposed to the tax increase if it were spent for the “right reason.”
Gentry said he would not be against the tax increase and asked those in attendance who had shopped in Alabaster’s Colonial Promenade in the past year.
“You paid Alabaster 1 cent more than you paid us, so why should you object to that? We’re just as good as Alabaster,” Gentry said.
When asked about how many City Council meetings he has missed in the past year, Graham said he has only missed two meetings due to Alabama League of Municipalities training and a family vacation.
Roberson said he missed one meeting.
Gentry said he has missed two meetings, one due to illness and he “had to be out handling personal business” during another meeting.
CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES
City Council incumbents Chris Bunn, Ernest Montgomery and Bobby Joe Phillips and candidates Philip Busby, Barbara Gray, Tim Sizemore, Kay Snowden-Turner and Alan Watts are competing for Calera’s six at-large council seats. City Council incumbent David Bradshaw, who is also running for re-election, was not in attendance during the forum.