The final 2 share thoughts on being mayor of Chelsea

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Staff Writer

CHELSEA – The final two mayoral candidates in Chelsea squared off in their second mayoral forum on Thursday, Sept. 29, after the initial election on Aug. 23 led to a run-off on Oct. 4.

The forum, put on by the Shelby County Reporter, South Shelby Chamber of Commerce, Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce and Chelsea Business Alliance, saw Dale Neuendorf and Tony Picklesimer take turns going back and forth answering eight of the same questions before giving a three-minute closing statement on why they should be Chelsea’s second ever mayor.

We will take a look at each of those questions and the candidates’ stance on each topic to give you a better idea of who to cast your vote for on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Why do you want to serve as mayor?

Neuendorf:

  • Said it starts with vision for what the people of Chelsea want, not what city hall wants.
  • Said there was a need for several citizen advisory committee’s to help with giving the residents what they need.
  • “When folks come home they like to enjoy the rural lifestyle we have to offer and I don’t want to change that,” Neuendorf said.
  • Doesn’t see the need for a police department saying the purpose of one is to make city safer, but city is already one of the safest.
  • “I want to serve the people and that’s the main reason I’m running for mayor,” he said.

Picklesimer:

  • “Chelsea is my home,” Picklesimer said. “That is the primary reason I chose to run for mayor and sat on the council for three years.”
  • Said when he sold his business three years ago he had the opportunity to live anywhere he wanted to, but just enjoyed what Chelsea has to offer.
  • “Five years ago I decided I wanted to serve the city of Chelsea and I’ve been preparing to do so ever since,” he said.

What in your opinion are the priorities and responsibilities of a city mayor?

Picklesimer:

  • Said Chelsea has a fire and rescue department that needs oversight and a great team at the community center that needs oversight. “We don’t need a manager that hovers over everything, but instead need to get the right people into this places and just oversee the great job they do,” he said.
  • Said the mayor and council have to be in front of ALDOT and Shelby County School’s Superintendent Randy Fuller every opportunity they get.
  • “The city is not in a bad place, but my vision is to take it forward,” Picklesimer said.

Neuendorf:

  • Said the primary responsibility is to make sure we have a safe city, not only from fire and rescue standpoint, but a police standpoint.
  • “We want to have facilities and programs in Chelsea that every citizen enjoys,” he said.
  • Said he obviously wants to grow the business platform. “First thing I will do within 100 days of being mayor is hiring a business firm to go out and find reasons why business should come to Chelsea,” Neuendorf said.
  • One of the businesses he said he wants to recruit is a hotel to hold people for ball tournaments, weddings, funerals and workers, so they don’t have to go over the mountain to eat and stay.
  • Said the mayor’s door will always be open.

How would you describe Chelsea to someone wanting to move their business here?

Neuendorf:

  • Said Chelsea is a city that loves business, but there are problems including the sewer company that have to be solved.
  • Said he wants to have a business park that will hold law firms, doctor’s offices, insurance places and more. “Those businesses will come in and they’ll have 10, 15 or 20 employees,” he said. “Once they start working here then they’ll want to move here.”

Picklesimer:

  • Said the city has tremendous demographics and included the median income is $83,000 a year with a population of 12,500.
  • “It’s our responsibility to bring business in and allow Chelsea residents to spend money here,” he said.
  • Said a light industrial park would be much better than Mr. Neuendorf’s plan. “It will help to have businesses that won’t compete with businesses on the other side of the mountain,” Picklesimer said.

Both served on city council and worked with Mayor Niven. How will you work with new council?

Picklesimer:

  • “Mr. Neuendorf has talked a lot about putting together committees, but on Aug. 23 the city elected my committee, which consists of the five council members they elected,” Picklesimer said.
  • Said communication is a big thing the city hasn’t done as good of a job as they are capable of.
  • Said not only will his door be open, but you’ll be able to reach the council and mayor through the computer.

Neuendorf:

  • Said there is a new group of people leading the community with several new members elected to the council and a new mayor.
  • “I want the people to tell us what they want us to work on, not just the council, and that’s why I have created a plan for several citizen advisory committee’s,” Neuendorf said.
  • Said they have the responsibility to make the final decision and that’s why we are elected.
  • Proposed a town hall meeting and said he wants to have public hearings. “I just want the city council and mayor to work with the citizens.”

Challenges highway 280 presents. What would you do to solve those challenges and plan for future growth?

Neuendorf:

  • Said the city has a good relationship with ALDOT, but they have resisted on many issues.
  • Said the city needs a traffic light at the intersection of U.S. 280 and Chelsea Park, the County Road 39 crossing at the intersection of U.S. 280 by Publix and a complete rework of the light at the McDonald’s intersection on U.S. 280.
  • Also said U.S. 280 is a blessing because it brings a lot of people to and through Chelsea. “Half of people that eat in Chelsea are probably traveling back and forth through the city,” he said.
  • Also brought up that he wants a community center in front of city hall that will involve food, entertainment and business.

Picklesimer:

  • Said U.S. 280 is a tremendous challenge and he has a very detailed plan on how to help solve the problems on his website.
  • Said there is a need for work on U.S. 280 all the way from County Road 51 to County Road 43. “It’s under the control of ALDOT, but we need to have a conversation with them on how to fix that stretch of 280,” he said.
  • Said the primary job of ALDOT is to keep us safe and in order for kids to be safe going to school in the morning there is a great need for a light at Chelsea Park.
  • Also mentioned the intersection in front of Publix, which at one point had highest number of accidents and the intersection by McDonald’s.
  • Said that 65 percent of traffic violations on U.S. 280 were not from Chelsea residents.

What are three specific things you would hope to accomplish in your first two years?

Picklesimer:

  • I feel like we have a few big challenges with the sewer system, overcrowding in schools, and County Roads 47 and 39 being the most important.
  • Said they need the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office on the city’s side.
  • After graduating from the citizen’s academy he is sold on them saying they are dedicated, educated and well trained. “I want to sit down with the sheriff to discuss getting more protection to better suit our growing population, and that will take place in my first 100 days,” he said.

Neuendorf:

  • Said he wants to do a lot of planning and budgeting within the first 100 days so they know what the city can afford
  • Doesn’t think it will take two years to get the intersection of County Road 47 and 39 fixed and definitely want to get that done.
  • Said he wants to see more sidewalks, biking and walking trails, renovation of ball fields on 47 and street lights.
  • Said he wants to add more amenities at community center.
  • Said he would like to explore building a storm shelter, which a lot of people have asked for.
  • Said he wants to build a strong working relationship with ALDOT. “They need to realize we don’t work for them they work for us,” he said. “We asked for a speed limit of 45 mph in Chelsea and they denied that. It’s 45 in the other cities surrounding us so why should we be the only one at 50 mph?”
  • “ALDOT also said we couldn’t have a light at Chelsea park because it’s residential,” he said. “Why would they put one at Highland Lakes if that’s the case?”

In your opinion what are Chelsea’s greatest strengths and what can you do to take advantage of them?

Picklesimer:

  • “Our greatest asset is simple, it’s is our people,” Picklesimer said. “We are close enough to a major metro city that we are attracting a lot of people to move here.”
  • Said it is his personal responsibility to make sure the way of life Chelsea has gotten used to stays.
  • “I’m looking forward to making this city more special than it already is.”

Neuendorf:

  • Said the greatest strength is the quality of life, which is something the entire city should take pride in. “We have so much here now that gives people the opportunity to enjoy more than they ever have been able to.”
  • Said it’s a friendly community and that’s why people like to be here and he wants to make sure it stays known as a friendly place to live.
  • Said he opposes high-density housing and apartment housing.