Job creation issue for District 2

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Emily Brooks at Brooks TruValue Hardware rings up a purchase for Vicki Popwell of Andalusia Tuesday afternoon. Candidates for Andalusia City Council District 2 say bringing jobs, like those provided at Brooks, is a priority in the next four years.

Kennith Mount and Duane O’Neal, candidates for Andalusia City Council District 2, said bringing jobs to the city is one of the three top issues in their district.

On Tuesday, candidates were asked to define their top three issues and how, if elected, they would address them.

Mount, the incumbent, said top issues in the district are city finances, education and jobs while O’Neal said the resurfacing the streets; unemployment, and the number of houses for sale in the district because of unemployment and foreclosure are his top three issues.

Mount said while education might not affect each voter, it plays an important role in the growth of a community.

“You’ve got to have an education system to train our young people,” Mount said. “It’s key to everything. Without (an education), you can’t get a good job.”

Mount credited the administration and staff in the Andalusia City School System, and said there is work needed to maintain the system and help it excel.

“After spending 37 years in the education field, I realize how important education is,” he said. “What money we (as a council) can, we need to channel it to continue the quality education we now provide.”

To accomplish his top priority, if elected, O’Neal said he’d like to see the mayor and each councilperson choose two streets for resurfacing.

“That’s how it was done in the previous term I served (1992-1996),” O’Neal said. “Then it all gets done equally, not just on the north side, the south side or such.”

The two candidates agreed that city finances, specifically the creation of new jobs, is the second issue.

“Finances have been a thing thrown around in election this year, and it should be – it should be at the top of things we control and continue to control,” Mount said. “We’ve worked to make Andalusia look good.

To me, if you go to apply for a job, you dress up in your best outfit,” he said. “You want to look good for people you’ll be in front of – have on your best suit, be neat. I think what we’ve done in Andalusia.

“We want a city that’s out front, and when you look, we’re a good clean city, because we invest in our city,” he said. “That’s what we have to do to attract more jobs. This administration has tried to do that. There’s been a lot done to invest, and yes, we’ve increased the debt and spent a lot, but it was done to make our city stand out.

“If you don’t spend anything, you won’t have anything,” he said. “We’ve got to control our spending. We can’t be free spending, and we have to make what we spent worthwhile and make sure it goes for a good purpose.”

Mount said his third issue goes hand-in-hand with city finances.

“Jobs are hard to attract,” he said. “Every city out there is after jobs. I can’t name a single one who doesn’t want to secure jobs. (Andalusia has) attracted some, but we’ve got long way to go. That goes hand in hand with finances.”

O’Neal said he wants “to really strive and get down to the serious business of bringing new industry and new jobs to Andalusia.”

To do that, O’Neal said, if elected, he would do that by making business contacts.

“And telling them what we have to offer (in Andalusia) and what a good, reliable workforce we have in Andalusia,” he said. “I would invite those people to come, take a look around and show them what we have to offer.”

O’Neal said he would also work to lower business licenses fees for not only new businesses, but also existing businesses.

“One of the reasons I feel we don’t have (more business in Andalusia) is because of the price of business licenses, and I think we should reduce those fees to get business wanting to come into town, at same time reduce license fees for those already here,” he said.

O’Neal said housing is the third issue in his district.

“In my district alone, I counted 52 house that were for sale or empty,” he said. “I feel like if we get new jobs, new businesses to come in, they can buy a home for what most people would have to pay in rent.

“Once we get the population built back up with jobs, that will reinforce our tax base and revenue,” he said. “During the next four years, I want to keep improving Andalusia, and at the same time, maintain what we already have. I do not want to take anything away or put anything up for sale.

“I feel like that this administration has done a great job on beautifying the city of Andalusia,” he said. “It looks better than it ever has, and I wouldn’t want to lose anything they have done.”

The municipal election will be held on Tues., Aug. 28. Polls open at 7 a.m.