What did the Alabaster mayoral candidates say?
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – Candidates looking to serve in the Alabaster mayor’s office shared their plans to attract more retail, update the city’s infrastructure and support the city school system during an Aug. 15 candidate forum.
During the two-hour forum, which was sponsored by the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and Shelby County Newspapers at Alabaster City Hall, the two mayoral candidates – Incumbent Marty Handlon and challenger Dr. Larry Sailes – answered several questions about their plans for the city.
The event, which came before Alabaster’s Aug. 23 municipal elections, drew about 70 people.
Here’s what the mayoral candidates said:
Why do you want to be mayor?
-Handlon said she would like to be re-elected so she can continue the progress she began during her first term.
-Sailes said his decision to run was based on faith, and said he believes he can “take Alabaster to the next level.”
What should a mayor’s priorities be?
-Sailes said a mayor should “echo the voice of the people,” and said he would keep communication open between the mayor’s office, city departments and the city’s residents.
-Handlon said a mayor oversees the day-to-day operations of the city, and should be “consistent and fair.” She touted her record of holding regular business meetings, establishing the teen council and communicating with people in the city.
What things would you like to accomplish as mayor over the next four years?
-Handlon said she would like to see the city’s new comprehensive plan come to fruition. She said the city should have more offerings for senior citizens, an expanded police department, a new recreation center and more professional jobs to keep residents in the city.
-Sailes said he would like to create a city family and youth services program, would upgrade the city’s infrastructure and workforce development offerings and would work toward more economic growth and development in the city.
What are the city’s greatest strengths?
-Sailes said Alabaster’s strength lies in its citizens, and said he would empower citizens to help their neighbors in need and make the city a better place.
-Handlon said citizens are the city’s greatest assets, and said Alabaster is fortunate to have a small-town feel and be so large. She also touted the city’s public safety departments.
What are your plans to retain and attract businesses?
-Handlon said attracting businesses to Alabaster is easy, and said the city is working to let companies know the city is open for development. She said the city is realistic about what it can do to help businesses locate to the city.
-Sailes said his experience with the Navy taught him how to talk with high-level corporate executives, and said he would work to promote the city’s geographic location, its community strengths and its available developable land.
What strengths prepare you to be mayor?
-Sailes touted his Navy experience and his experience in several different business fields, and said his varied background will allow him to work with the City Council and build a collaboration between City Hall and the citizens.
-Handlon said her ability to listen, be available and communicate with the City Council, department heads and residents in the community are her primary strengths.
Where do you see Alabaster in the next four years?
-Handlon said in four years, the city will have made progress toward the items laid out in its comprehensive plan, and said the medical mile will continue to grow and develop.
-Sailes said he sees Alabaster becoming the top city to live in in Alabama, and said the city will have partnered with the railroad companies to address railroad congestion. He also said in four years, the new shopping center south of the Promenade will be open for business.
What can residents do to move the city forward?
-Sailes said they can communicate with the city and work in the community to help out. He said he will hold regular citizen feedback committee meetings. He said he will ensure citizens have a voice in the city process.
-Handlon said citizens can become more involved in government by attending meetings and becoming involved in community boards. She said citizens can also be aware of their surroundings and report suspicious things to the police department in an effort to curb drugs and violence.
What assets make the city attractive to businesses?
-Handlon said the city’s location, proximity to the major manufacturers tied to Alabama’s industry, its central location and its proximity to Birmingham are all attractive for businesses looking to move to Alabaster.
-Sailes said the city’s tight-knit feel is an asset, especially since the city has more than 30,000 residents.
Why did you decide to live in Alabaster?
-Sailes said he and his family could have lived anywhere after his Navy career, and said they chose Alabaster because of its low crime rate, its community offerings, its schools and its quality of life.
-Handlon said she moved to Alabaster because of its central location, its strong schools and its spirit of community togetherness.