What do Pelham’s mayoral candidates think of the city?

Published 10:25 am Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pelham’s two mayoral candidates took turns answering questions about their visions for the city. (File)

Pelham’s two mayoral candidates took turns answering questions about their visions for the city. (File)

By Briana Harris / Staff Writer

PELHAM – The two men hoping to be Pelham’s next mayor shared their visions for the city before a crowd of about 100 people during a candidate forum at Pelham High School on Aug. 16.

During the forum, which was sponsored by the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and Shelby County Newspapers, the candidates – incumbent Mayor Gary Waters and opponent Lenny Glynn – were given a limited amount of time to answer questions regarding their plans for the city.

Prior to the mayoral candidates’ question-and-answer session, the 13 city council hopefuls shared their visions for the city.

Pelham’s municipal election is on Aug. 23.

Here’s what the mayoral candidates had to say:

Why do you want to be the mayor of Pelham?

-Waters said he has been a public servant for his whole life and it’s second nature for him to serve his community. He said he has a desire to be on the policy making side of city government after working on the execution side for so long.

-Glynn said becoming mayor started out as a dream of his 20 years ago and after his retirement he decided to step up to the plate and be a part of city government.

What are the priorities and responsibilities of the city’s mayor?

-Glynn said the mayor needs to have a business and leadership background. He said the mayor is responsible for mentoring those under his leadership and molding them into future leaders. Lastly, he said the mayor is an ambassador for the city.

-Waters said it’s the mayor’s responsibility to maintain contact with the community and city employees even when you don’t want to. He said the mayor sets the tone for climate of City Hall, such as whether the city is perceived to be easy or difficult to work with.

Where do you see the city in four years?

-Waters said he believes the city is moving forward and is better off today than it was four years ago. He said he thinks the city will have continued economic development and a growing school system.

-Glynn said Pelham City Schools will continue to grow, there will be more commercial development opportunities and better communication between the city and community.

If elected, what specific skills or strengths do you possess that you believe will benefit Pelham?

-Glynn said he started at the bottom and worked his way up to become a manager with AT&T. He said he has 30 years of managerial, supervising and leadership experience that will help bring back the community spirit that Pelham is lacking.

-Waters said it is seldom that a day goes by when he does not draw upon his military and fire chief experiences when making decisions. He said his past experiences help him succeed as mayor.

How would you describe Pelham when asked by someone wanting to move their family to the city?

-Waters said Pelham is a city in transition. He said it will take more than four years to transform Pelham from what it is today into something different, but he said the city is on the right track.

-Glynn said Pelham is home, which “is where your story begins.” He said it’s a place people want to stay and play and feel safe and secure. To those on the outside, he said Pelham is a place to drive through, but when they stop, they fall in love.

What can Pelham citizens do to help make the city an even better place to live and do business?

-Glynn said residents can sign up to volunteer, participate in city events and activities and attend city meetings to become more informed.

-Waters said it would be great if everyone could get involved, but he realizes that’s not feasible for some. However, he said everyone can reach out to city officials and ask questions if they don’t understand something.

What are Pelham’s greatest strengths and how do you as mayor plan to take full advantage of those strengths?

-Waters challenged the audience to find another city comparable to Pelham that offers the same level of amenities as Pelham does. He said Pelham is a resilient city with finances that have been well managed over the years.

-Glynn said “our citizens are our strength.” Without the city’s employees he said Pelham is just another small city on the map.

How would you describe Pelham to someone wanting to move their business to the city?

-Glynn said Pelham has a strong commercial and industrial base, so any business hoping to open in the city needs to be on the cutting edge.

-Waters said Pelham hasn’t always been the easiest place to do business, but now when a small or large business approaches the city, he gathers all the necessary city employees to have a meeting with the company to answer any questions.

How and when will you be accessible to the public?

-Waters said he communicates by email and phone, but tries not to take work at home. He said he also visits throughout the city once a week.

-Glynn said he is willing to take a phone call at any time.

What are three specific things you hope to accomplish over the next four years if elected mayor?

-Glynn said he would like to develop a communication engine that is accessible to everyone, improve the appearance of U.S. 31 and increase the use of parks and recreation facilities for events, tournaments and travel ball.

-Waters said he would change the rules and procedures that govern the way the city council and mayor conduct business and set council agendas, change the day of council work sessions to the day before the council meeting and elect the city council by ward or district so that every resident has a specific representative.