Alabaster council candidates share visions
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – Candidates looking to serve on Alabaster’s City Council shared plans ranging from addressing the city’s traffic concerns to continuing the community’s economic growth during an Aug. 15 forum.
The Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and Shelby County Newspapers partnered to host a forum for the city’s mayoral and City Council candidates at Alabaster City Hall, drawing about 70 people. The forum came a little more than a week before the city’s municipal elections on Aug. 23.
Each candidate in a contested Alabaster City Council race had a limited amount of time during the forum to share their visions for the city. Wards 3 and 6 are not contested, as nobody qualified to run against the incumbents in those wards.
The event also featured a question-and-answer session for the city’s two mayoral candidates.
Here’s what each City Council candidate said:
-Incumbent Sophie Martin said she has been operating under the motto of building a better community, and touted her work cleaning up blighted properties, opposing apartment developments on Shelby County 11 and Alabaster Boulevard and repairing damaged roads. She said if elected, she will continue to work to address traffic on U.S. 31 and Shelby County 11, and said she will look to God and the community when making decisions.
-Candidate Lee Cunningham said he is a lifelong Alabaster resident, and said he has a strong track record of being involved and active in the community. He said his business experience will help take Alabaster to the next step, and said he will be available and responsive to the community’s needs if he is elected. He said he will also focus on community safety.
-Candidate Matt Penhale said he and his wife are expecting their first child, and he said the news changed his perspective on life. He said he wants to ensure Alabaster remains the strong community he grew up in. If elected, he said he will focus on economic growth, increasing revenue and promoting financial responsibility.
-Candidate Rick Ellis said he is a certified public accountant, and said his 20-plus years of experience in finance will serve the council well. He said he has two children in the school system, and said he wants to promote positive, family oriented economic growth and update the city’s infrastructure.
-Incumbent Rick Walters said he has lived in Alabaster for more than 25 years, and said he worked with other council members to bring large shopping centers, a new senior center, water and sewer upgrades and more to the city. He said he championed the city’s rainy day fund, biodiesel program, safe trade zones and recent ZIP code consolidation. He said he would like to work to extend Alabaster Boulevard and Fulton Springs Road, and would like to build a multi-use civic building and public safety building.
-Candidate Greg Farrell said he wants to serve as new representation to steer Ward 4 in new direction. He said his experience working with the Alabaster Fire Department gave him insight into how the city departments operate. He said his main goal is supporting the city’s public safety departments by ensuring they have the best equipment and a new building. He said he would ensure city services grow with the city, and said he will support public and private schools in Alabaster.
-Incumbent Russell Bedsole said he is passionate about public safety because he has worked with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office for 18 years. During his time on the council, Bedsole said sales tax revenues have grown by more than 22 percent. He said he worked to get school resource officers and a drug dog into the city’s schools, and he said he will continue to work to ensure the city remains financially healthy and attractive for businesses.
-Candidate Jamia Alexander-Williams said the city should add a program to serve special-needs children and adults and their caregivers, and said she will work to ensure Alabaster stays on the radar to have Interstate 65 widened between exits 238 and 242. She said she is proud to be involved in the city, and said she will be accessible to constituents day and night.
-Candidate Kerri Pate said she has lived in Alabaster since 1997, and said she has been involved on several local boards. She said she would work to make Alabaster a lifecycle city, would work to deepen the partnership between the city and schools and would work to ensure the city has a fiscally conservative plan to support infrastructure. She said she would support the city’s firefighters and police and would seek the guidance of God before making all decisions.
-Candidate Eric Starling said he has enjoyed seeing the city’s schools grow and prosper, and said he would work to ensure the school system continues a positive trend. As the school system improves, Starling said it will draw more people to the city, necessitating updates in infrastructure and retail growth to strengthen the city’s tax base.
Alabaster’s municipal elections will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 23, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at Alabaster United Methodist Church’s Restore building off Alabama 119.
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