Archived Story

Candidate forum was worth attending

Published 12:01pm Monday, August 13, 2012

More than 150 people who attended this week’s public forum featuring the candidates in Alexander City’s upcoming city council races spent their Thursday evening well.

It’s hard to compare candidates when you meet them around town and have different conversations at different times. But by getting them in one place and listening to them answer the same questions, voters get a much clearer perspective and can make valuable judgments.

Thursday evening I ranked all 15 candidates who spoke, and surprisingly I came up with clear winners in every district.

Of course, it’s only my opinion, and others at the same event could certainly come to different conclusions, but I found the evening very useful.

And my rankings became even more useful after the  forum was over when my current councilman, Bob Howard, came up and told me that when the district lines were adjusted my house on Circle Drive moved to another district.

“You’ll be getting a letter about it soon,” he said.

I certainly hope so, and now I’m doubly glad I ranked each district.

I’m also afraid that there will be plenty of people adversely affected by the redistricting because it was done so close to the election.

Candidates have been going door-to-door in the wrong district for weeks. People like me who had their choices almost nailed down will have to start over.

That’s a real problem for a significant portion of the city’s voters.

Next Thursday, the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce and this newspaper will team up for a second political forum featuring the candidates running for mayor. This is a highly contested race, and I think the forum will again prove both interesting and revealing.

And with our community transitioning from a what was essentially a single company town to something much more diverse, it is essential that we elect the best-possible leaders to run Alexander City.

I was speaking with candidate Garland Gamble this week and made a comment that I think should be shared with a wider audience. Garland said he has spoken to a number of voters who said they planned to vote based on friendships or for people who had done them a favor in the past.

I said that the City of Alexander City is basically a $50 million business, one of the largest in the Lake region. What would happen if that same method was used to decide who would head Russell Lands or Russell Medical Center?

Granted that’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but it’s pretty close.

The point is that we need to put the best man possible in the drivers seat to judge each candidate solely on their ability to lead us into a better future.

One of the best ways I know to do that is to educate yourself by attending Thursday’s public forum.

I hope to see you there.

Boone is publisher of The Outlook.