Florala mayor talks issues

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Florala mayoral candidate Robert Williamson said Tuesday the top three issues facing the city the next four years are city finances/jobs, airport development and recreation, while his opponent, Danny Franklin, failed to make good on a promise to contact The Star-News with his position.

“The economy has taken a downturn,” Williamson said. “Economic issues are always a concern. We try to put in place things that enhance our economic and financial resources – the image (of the city) and the infrastructure – things that directly correlate with an increase in revenue.”

Williamson said he would like to pursue jobs, “not only from an industry standpoint, but also small businesses.”

“They say that 89 percent of the workforce is comprised of people who are employed by businesses who employ 20 people or less,” he said. “They have a major impact on the economy. Also, we need to work on downtown redevelopment, on getting a hotel to stop travelers.

“I want to see Florala not as a place that people travel through, but one that they stop, shop and maybe locate here,” he said.

Williamson said developing the Florala Municipal Airport is also key to the city’s growth.

“Airport development. That will happen,” he said. “But within next year, next four years, I don’t know. I think process has to grow.”

With the use of Federal Aviation Administration money, the airport will make much-needed upgrades to the runway and airport grounds.

“That airport is our biggest area of potential development in the next four years,” he said. “Things are already in process from the standpoint of working hand in hand with the airport authority, who has been very progressive in pursuing FAA money.”

Multiple attempts by The Star-News to obtain Franklin’s comments were unsuccessful. Franklin, who was first contacted via cell phone and said, “I’m very busy,” was told that his comments must be submitted Tuesday afternoon for inclusion in the story. Franklin promised to contact The Star-News, but failed to do so.

As for the area of recreation, Williamson said he would like to begin a “master recreation plan.”

“I’d like to see us being a plan that puts a recreational facility in place,” he said. “It may take 15 years to get where we want, but we need to get started on something that will cater to all age groups.”

Williamson said he’d like to see the city purchase a piece of property “that will allow us to grow.”

“I’ve got nothing against putting a park in place, but I think we need to also have space available to expand something that, on down the road encompasses something for small children, adults and seniors as well.”

The municipal election will be held on Tues., Aug. 28. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Also on the Florala ballot is the race between District 1 candidates, the incumbent, Hazel Lee, and Connie Sue Buckley, as well as the race between the incumbent Jimmy Waldrop and Pat Carmichal for district 4.