Vincent divided at political forum

Published 9:53 pm Thursday, August 23, 2012

From left, mayor candidate Joey Cobb, South Shelby Chamber of Commerce President Donna Smelcer and Vincent Mayor Ray McAllister. (Reporter photo/Christine Boatwright)


VINCENT – Political forum organizers had to add rows of chairs as the more than 100 residents split to opposing sides to support incumbent Mayor Ray McAllister or his challenger, Joey Cobb, at Vincent High School Aug. 23.

The forum was sponsored by the county’s chambers of commerce and the Shelby County Reporter. Donna Smelcer, president of the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce, asked the candidates questions regarding Vincent’s future.

Cobb, who has worked as a financial advisor and mortgage broker, said Vincent is “not heading in the best direction.” He said, if elected, he would increase the hours of Vincent’s public library, increase support for youth sports and municipal parks and work to bring additional emergency services to the town.

McAllister, who is running for his second term, said it is “important to keep up the momentum we started in the last term.”

“We got over $800,000 in grants over the past four years. We’ve taken the grant money and improved roads and the fire and police departments,” McAllister said.

McAllister outlined a long-term plan of adding baseball fields, tennis courts, a kids’ splash pad and outdoor exercise equipment to the municipal park. Another future goal, McAllister said, would be a fulltime fire department.

When asked how he would continue Vincent’s progress, Cobb said the town needs “rooftops.”

“If we have more rooftops, we’ll have more people. With more people, we’ll have more businesses, which would be more revenue for us,” Cobb said. “One way is to take back our zoning from Shelby County and make the zoning laws more builder friendly.”

Cobb also said the town needs to “clean up the area downtown,” which would draw new residents, and therefore “increase tax revenue, increase residents and increase money coming into the town to continue progress.”

McAllister said his administration has paved six streets with grant money during the past four years. McAllister said he agreed on the need for more residents.

“Developers have gone belly up by the thousands. No one is building new houses,” McAllister said. “When the market starts to change, I think Vincent is in a prime condition for someone to come in and build subdivisions.