Harpersville mayoral candidates talk economy

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HARPERSVILLE — Money matters dominated the Harpersville mayoral forum Aug. 16, as candidates Don Greene and incumbent Theoangelo Perkins answered a bevy of questions on the town’s economy.

A crowd of about 80 flooded the Harpersville Town Hall to hear the candidates.

Both candidates highlighted the economy in their opening remarks, with Greene focusing on U.S. 280 as a catalyst to bring business to the town and Perkins saying the town is rebounding from the economic depression under his administration.

Greene said in order to attract and maintain a strong tax base, it is essential to build good relationships with existing and potential businesses.

“You’ve got to create a positive image for the town,” he said.

Perkins said he would continue to use the South Shelby County Chamber of Commerce as a resource to help maintain relationships with local businesses. Perkins also pointed out that town officials have helped several locals create start-up businesses.

“You create an environment to nurture these businesses,” he said.

Greene said he is concerned about the reduction of funds in the town accounts since the recession began.

“If you don’t have the money, there’s nothing you can do to provide the services for the people,” he said.

Perkins responded by saying the town has $550,000 in reserves and is coming out of the recession with a full head of steam.

“Our town is not in dire straits,” he said. “The last four years have been tough on every American, but we’ve weathered the storm and we’re coming out of it now.”

Perkins also said the town’s plan to recruit businesses has been lauded by the Regional Planning Commission and has led to long looks from businesses such as McDonald’s.

Greene said Harpersville officials should tap into local economic organizations and development services to help grow and recruit businesses.

Perkins also spoke about the need to reduce traffic congestion on U.S. 280. He said 20,000 vehicles a day go through Harpersville on U.S. 280.

“One of the things I hear from people all the time is, ‘Something’s got to be done about 280,” he said. “If something is not done about 280, it’s going to stagnate the growth of Harpersville and Vincent. It’s a quality of life issue for us.”

Greene said he would look into potentially adding more police and fire personnel to “provide the best protection the town can afford.”

In their closing statements, both Greene and Perkins said Harpersville is a place with much to offer.

“I’m not planning on ever leaving Harpersville. It’s a good place to live,” said Greene, before eliciting laughter from the audience with one more point in his favor. “I will be available (as mayor). I’m retired. I don’t have to go to work in the mornings.”

Perkins said Harpersville’s charm comes from keeping the small-town feeling.

“We do have a great town. We have wonderful people,” he said. “Some people may call us ‘Mayberry.’ I think that’s a good thing.”

The Harpersville municipal election is Aug. 28.