Pelham council candidates share their visions

Published 10:27 am Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pelham’s 13 City Council candidates gathered on Aug. 16 to share their visions for the city. (File)

Pelham’s 13 City Council candidates gathered on Aug. 16 to share their visions for the city. (File)

By Briana Harris / Staff Writer

PELHAM – Candidates hoping to be elected to the Pelham City Council had a chance to share their visions for the city on Aug. 16 at a forum held at Pelham High School.

Candidates addressed topics such as economic development and increased government transparency at the forum, which was hosted by the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and Shelby County Newspapers.

Each candidate was given a limited amount of time to share his or her visions for the city as a crowd of about 100 residents listened and took notes. Candidates in the mayoral race participated in a question-and-answer session afterward.

Voters will take to the polls on Aug. 23 to decide who their elected officials will be.

Here’s what each candidate has to say:

Place 1

-Candidate Kaneshia Sims said she decided run for City Council because she wants to help make the community the best it can be. If elected, Sims said she will work to bring engaging community events and small businesses to the city. She said she will make decisions that are in the best interest of the city and will not bend under pressure.

-Candidate Lucas Burger, a Pelham native, said, “together we can make Pelham great and bring people together through communication and transparency.” He said the city does not belong to any one person or group, but to everyone. If elected, Burger said he will be the voice of the people and will clearly communicate his visions for Pelham with residents.

-Incumbent Rick Hayes said the job of a city council member isn’t easy, but he’s thrilled to do it. Hayes said the council never claimed the formation of Pelham City Schools would be the “silver bullet” the city needed to spark growth, but “we did say that it would give us a chance.” He said the number of economic development opportunities the city is experiencing is some of the most the city has ever seen.

-Candidate Rick Wash said it’s important to have a strong school system around which the city is built. He added that the city should get rid of some of the check cashing businesses and replace them with businesses that are more viable. Wash said there is a need to refocus and reconnect the city government with the community and suggested hosting community events with the city council and mayor.

Place 2

-Candidate Don Green said whatever he chooses to do he always strives to do his best and the same principle would apply if he were elected to the Pelham City Council. Green said he would never claim to have all the answers to the city’s problems, but no one has a greater vision for what Pelham can be again. The former Pelham Fire Department battalion chief said now that he has retired, he wants to work for the city again, but now as a City Council member.

-Candidate Tommy Johnson said what makes him different from other candidates is that he has never been an elected official or worked in public service, so he won’t enter into the position with any biases or allegiance to any group. As a small business owner, he said he has had opportunities to get to know Pelham residents and find out what they think and feel about Pelham. If elected, he said he will use his insight to help make decisions.

-Incumbent Ron Scott said Pelham City Schools will continue to be one of his priorities as a council member. During the past four years, he said the council has taken steps to limit the number of check cashing businesses, used car lots and pawn shops on U.S. 31 and took the initiative to improve the Summer Classics building.

Place 3

-Candidate Marco Gonzalez said a quality school system is the key to residential growth and more new home constructions. If elected, Gonzalez said he would work to reduce restrictions for business owners, which would likely get them to stay in the city. When it comes to growth and development, he said city employees and residents can give ideas on what needs to be done in the city, instead of consultants.

-Incumbent Beth McMillan said she counts the formation of the Commercial Development Authority and Pelham City Schools as two of the council’s biggest accomplishments in the last four years. As a council member, McMillian said she is passionate about supporting first responders, parks and existing facilities and boosting economic development growth.

Place 4

-Candidate Scott Christian said he would focus on public safety, economic development and Pelham City Schools if elected to the Pelham City Council. He said if the city has a thriving economy it could properly fund the school system and pubic safety departments. He said he was taught to have a servant’s heart and if elected the citizens of Pelham will be heard.

-Incumbent Maurice Mercer said if re-elected he would continue to focus on education, city services, maintaining balanced budget and improving communication between the city and community. He proposed communicating through text notifications, a frequent news letter and continued Town Halls. He said he will engage the community with events like Movies in the Park, Taste of Pelham, & Pelhampalooza.

Place 5

-Incumbent Karyl Rice said she’s seen Pelham grow from a city of less than 10,000 to what it is today and the reason she continues to run for City Council is because she believes that she still has a lot to offer to the city. She said a sign that Pelham is on the right track is the number of homes that are being built and sold. However, in the midst of growth, she said it’s important to make sure the city’s senior citizens are cared for.

-Candidate Mike Freeman said that at one point Pelham was all about the citizens and helping children succeed. However, he said that concept has been lost and he wants to help bring it back. He said his motivation for running for City Council is to “see Pelham pride come back.”

-Candidate Mildred Lanier said she wants the public to know that she is ready, committed and dedicated to serving her community. As member of the city’s planning and zoning commission for six years and the chairman for four, Lanier said she comes with the experience, knowledge and education needed to serve on the council. She said she will be committed to economic development and making sure students are college and career ready.