District 4 issue: Build community

Published 12:05 am Thursday, August 23, 2012

Candidates in District 4 said the need for better communication in neighborhoods and districts, city hall, more unity in the community, resurfacing South Three Notch, securing temporary housing and recruiting industry as the top concerns in their district. | Andrew Garner/Star-News



Johnny Godwin and Ralph Wells, candidates for Andalusia City Council in District 4, said that there need to be “no financial secrets,” “no neighborhood surprises,” unity in the community, improvements to city streets, more temporary housing and new jobs.

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

The city council seat will be filled by a new member, since current member Jason Jewell is not seeking reelection.

Godwin said he would like to see city streets, such as South Three Notch Street improved.

“It’s a disgrace to have people coming to the hospitals and such,” Godwin said. “We need to find the money to resurface the roads.”

And that’s what he plans to do, if elected – help find the money to make sure South Three Notch is addressed.

He also said that there’s a need for more temporary housing.

“A lot of people say we don’t need them,” he said. “But a lot of people don’t realize that these jobs we have at SaeHaeSung, Vector and all. The majority of those people drive from out of town. They are driving in from Florida and taking the money back. A lot of them are contract workers. Apartments would allow them to keep that money here, and that’s important.”

Thirdly, Godwin said he wants to recruit industry and jobs to Andalusia.

“Retail and manufacturing – some jobs that folks around here are qualified to do,” he said. “I also want to work to encourage young people to go to the aviation school to learn, so they can fill the local jobs here.”

To do that, Godwin said, “we are going to continue to strive to get the same type of jobs, especially with Airbus in Mobile. Maybe we can get a spinoff, since we are in the business already.”

Wells said, he’d like to see “no financial secrets.”

“We need to continue to educate and inform the public of the city’s debt structure,” he said. “Not everyone understands the debt. All they hear is that we are in debt and the large numbers. I would like for us to continue to publicly explain and justify our financial position.”

Wells said he’d like to see the city council present a debt report on a monthly basis.

“Every citizen should have the opportunity to know where the city stands at all times or at least on a monthly basis,” Wells said. “The citizens do not need to be surprised by it. Submitted questions need to be answered publicly. Our goal should be to have an informed public.”

Another issue that Wells said is important is “no neighborhood surprises.”

“There needs to be clear communication between councilmen and citizens,” he said. “When issues arise that could affect the neighborhood, those with concerns need to be heard. The input needs to be documented and submitted into the city’s discussions in order to make more informed decisions. People need to know ahead of time, so they have time to react or voice their opinion.”

Wells said the city council representative needs to be aware and informed in order to alert constituents when problems, new projects or city business in general, arises.

Wells said it’s important for council members to “listen and respond.”

“ A lot of times it is the little things that matter,” he said. “It may seem like a small issue but to that citizen, it is a big concern. As a councilperson, we need to respond in a timely manner.”

Finally, Wells said, the community needs to be unified.

“Although a councilperson is elected from a district within the city, they still will be making decisions that affect ‘all’ of the citizens of Andalusia,” he said. “In reality, some of these decisions will affect our surrounding communities. With that in mind as a council member, we also need to be concerned as to what is good for ‘all of us.’”

Wells said that continued harmony in government is the desire for most residents.

“They want to see us work together,” he said. “Everyone does not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to strive for the common ground and build on it. We have a wonderful city. In order to continue to attract people and businesses to our city, we need to be progressive with ‘structured growth’ and aggressive with industrial growth opportunities.”

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