Council candidates speak outPublished 2:29pm Friday, August 10, 2012
The weather didn’t keep citizens from coming out to hear city council candidates respond to questions.
Fifteen of the 16 candidates were in attendance, with Benny Speaks being the sole candidate absent.
Each candidate was asked the same three questions.
What role do you see the city taking in partnership with Russell Brands Fruit of the Loom in using portions of the Russell campus for economic development in Alexander City?
Specifically, what leadership experience do you have to support your ability to manage the affairs of Alexander City?
How would you enhance the working relationship between the city, the chamber of commerce and the Lake Martin Economic Development Alliance in order to market Alexander City and attract solid, middle-income jobs?
While each candidate provided examples from his or her life to show leadership experience, trends developed in regards to the other two questions.
A majority of the candidates called for increased marketing of the existing Russell campus in order to attract new industries to the buildings. District 4 candidate Sean Bland suggested that some of the buildings might be suited for many smaller businesses. At the other end of the spectrum, District 2 candidate Gary Varner did not see any need for a partnership with Russell Brands and called for the destruction of the buildings so the land could be used for other purposes.
When it came to the relationship between the city, the chamber and the EDA, candidates all agreed that teamwork was the best policy to spur economic growth.
“I think we all need to be singing from the same sheet of music, and we are not always doing that,” said Jim Spann, District 5 candidate. “There can’t be big I’s and little u’s. This is our city, it the chamber has a lead or the EDA has a lead or the city has a lead, we all need to work together to address that and follow up with those people.”
Rev. Mike Densmore, who served as moderator for the forum, ended the event by sharing what he has seen by viewing multiple tire plants around the world.
“Tire plans look the same – brick and mortar looks the same – regardless of where you are in the world,” Densmore said. “What is the competitive advantage, then? It is certainly not capital equipment.”
Densmore explained that competitors can easily overcome technological advantages with capital funds.
“The only lasting competitive advantage there is, and the only thing that builds organizations, communities and world-class economies is the hearts and minds of people working together committed to a common goal.”
Alexander City Chamber President Marvin Wagoner thanked the candidates and all of the citizens who attended the event.
“I heard a couple of words – pride, purpose and plan– we can all execute that as a team for Alexander City,” Wagoner said. “We are Alexander City, and we will not quite. We are going to continue to grow and grow quickly.”
The next forum will feature all five mayoral candidates and will be held Aug. 16 at the Betty Carol Graham Technology Center inside the auditorium.