Hoover municipal candidates discuss issues in virtual event

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter

HOOVER – City council and mayoral candidates for the upcoming municipal elections in Hoover presented their ideas for the future of the city in the two-night Hoover Candidates 2020 Forum.

The forum was split into two nights between Aug 11-12, with the first night focusing on city council candidates and the second night featuring candidates for mayor.

The first night featured 15 candidates seeking various positions on the city council, with six of the seven seats being contested, Council Member Derrick Murphy is unopposed but did speak at the forum.

Many issues were discussed amongst the candidates including infrastructure, the Riverchase Galleria and Patton Creek shopping centers, recent protests in the city, what their leadership style would be and police and community relations.

One of the bigger topics during the forum was the issue of whether the police department should be defunded, or have funds directed elsewhere as a response to nationwide and local protests. All of the candidates indicated they would not support defunding the police.

Michael Jeffries, running for Place 3 against John Lyda, said that he believes “the Hoover Police Department is an integral part of the city when it comes to safety.”

Lyda agreed with this sentiment but emphasized his experience already in the position saying, “I have a steadfast record of unequivocal, one hundred percent support for our public safety departments.”

The second night on Aug. 12 featured a round of questions for Mayoral candidates Frank Brocato, the incumbent, and his challenger City Council President Gene Smith.

Topics of discussion among the candidates included infrastructure, the city’s school system, the Galleria, the police, COVID-19 and the city’s budget.

One of the biggest topics, similar to the first night was the relationships between police officers and citizens. Especially actions taken during the recent protests that took place in the city.

“I completely and 100 percent police officers,” Brocato said. “I know everything that is going on. Our police officers have acted nothing but professionally throughout this entire event. They have reached out to those that are protesting and made sure they are protected and their right to protest is protected. They have also acted when people broke the law.”

“The ability to protest is part of the DNA of this country. It is a constitutional right,” Smith said. “You’d never see myself or anyone in my administration keep anyone from participating in a peaceful protest. It’s when those protest become more that not peaceful. When you do things like that you’re going to be arrested.”

The Hoover Candidates 2020 Forum created these live-streamed events to allow voters to make informed decisions for the upcoming municipal elections on Aug. 25, from the safety of their own homes. The forum partnered with leaders and residents throughout many Hoover neighborhoods to make the events possible.