Archive for the ‘Bessemer Mayor’ Category

>Bessemer – 2010 style

October 14, 2010

>There were no changes in the vote totals in Bessemer after provisional ballots were counted, according to reports. That means that on November 2, the day after they are sworn in, the new mayor and council can get started. Cleo King, district 7 council person elect, has said more than once he’s “ready to make a difference,” and let’s just hope the rest of the council is, too.

The council will be as follows.

District 1 – David Vance

District 2 – Sherrina Rice

District 3 – Sarah Belcher

District 4 – Donna Thigpen

District 5 – Ron Marshall

District 6 – Jesse Matthews

District 7 – Cleo King

And of course, Mayor Ken Gulley.

This change occurs in 18 days and some very interesting things are going take place pretty quickly. Some people might want to run and hide. I’m just sayin’.

>Bessemer is not…

October 4, 2010

>…nor will we ever be, San Luis Obispo, CA.

San Luis Obispo is the happiest place in the United States, according to a 2008 Gallup-Healthways poll, which rated the city No. 1 in overall emotional health. This comes from an article in today’s Parade magazine.

But we could certainly be much happier as a city than we are now. The key is further down in this post.

Dan Buettner, who wrote The Blue Zones, has a new book coming out later this month, Thrive, in which he explores happiness.

Here are some key elements to the success of San Luis Obispo.

Support the Arts. I have written about the creative class and how embracing those and welcoming them would improve our city.

Boost Biking and Walking. I have written about bringing trails to Bessemer. Here and also here.

Create a Greenbelt. This kind of goes along with the above, as far as Bessemer goes.

Prohibit Drive-Throughs. It’s a little late for this. but in San Luis Obispo, they were forward thinking in the 1980’s, and banned drive-through restaurants. This helped to keep their obesity rate at 17.6% compared to 26.5% nationally, and God knows what in Bessemer.

Stamp out Cigarettes. San Luis Obispo has one of the lowest smoking rates in the nation, and this stated with their smoking ban in 1990. In Bessemer, there is a smoking ban in restaurants. I promoted this ban for the health of our community. We could expand the ban to our parks and other outdoor public places.

Shrink Signage. I doubt that we could pass a sign ordinance here. I’ll tell you about one sign that I saw today that is a huge waste of money. Richard Shelby’s money. He has a billboard in Bessemer, a Democratic city, on 14th Street. Lol. Anyway, Here’s a sign you need to read before Tuesday’s runoff. More on this further down on this post.

Empower the People. In San Luis Obispo’s case, the article speaks of a 1968 referendum where the people voted to close some streets and create a plaza. Mission Plaza is now a source of civic pride, a place for their farmer’s market and arts and gatherings. Hmmm.

Go back up to the Biking and Walking paragraph and click on the link there. That park involving the railroad trestle could be something the people would be proud of. It would link to Roosevelt Park, which is already popular. It’s a big dream of mine to have that park, and link it to Red Mountain Park by skirting our neighborhood along 14th street and using the overpasses already in place (there is at least one missing that would need to be replaced. But this would be a very interesting use of existing historical architecture, and believe me, it would get some attention), which is being developed. An official of the park told me years ago (during the Ed May era) they had approached the city of Bessemer and could get no response. This is another reason we need to send Ed May home on Tuesday. More about this further down on this post.

Oh, we’re there. I found a several page flyer on my gate when we returned home headlined “Ed May leading the city to the brink of destruction.” Quotes from this blog make the case on that flyer. There is also a section headlined “Bingo Deception” (Mayor May vetoed Bingo more than once, while his law firm was receiving payments for representing Bingo interests in Bessemer, according to the flyer).

Another section is headlined “Appropriated Education Funds Denied,” that explains that May’s withholding of about 8 million dollars from education (that the city owes) demonstrates gross negligence and hurts our children!

We are not a happy city. We could be much happier if we elect a mayor and council that will represent our city in a proud way. I’ve written about the candidates that the Bessemer Progressives have endorsed.

Here is what I said about city council candidates that are now in runoffs.

Chester Porter – “wants to revitalize downtown, wants to bring arts to Bessemer, wants to establish a quarterly community clean up day.” Chester is running for the seat vacated by Louise Alexander.

Ron Marshall – “Most of the questions asked this group were about economic development, and Marshall was very effective in pointing out his marketing background and how this would be an asset in promoting (or allowing other entities to promote) the city. He also has experience in managing a city department.” Ron is running in District 5, and seeks to replace Albert Soles.

Cleo King – “When asked what the number one issue facing the city is he responded “lack of communication.” He said we need to change the image of the city and the council needs to set the example. The current council person from District 7, Earl Cochran, has been a disappointment. He answered his first question talking about a failure. the failure of the city to pass his bingo initiative. He answered the second question talking about failure. The failure of the city to be accountable. he sounded too much like Larry Langford when he urged voters to choose him and only then would he reveal his secret revenue generating plan. Ms. Jones was voted out in 2006 because voters had had enough of her. We’ve still had enough.” Cleo is seeking to replace Earl Cochran, who has shown us how to embarrass the city when television cameras are rolling.

And we have endorsed Ken Gulley for mayor.

The Ken Gulley parade rolled by my house around 4 today. The Cleo King parade rolled by about a half hour later.

Do not vote for incumbents.

Vote for Ken Gulley for mayor on Tuesday

Vote for Chester Porter in district 2 on Tuesday.

Vote for Ron Marshall in district 5 on Tuesday.

Vote for Cleo King in district 7 on Tuesday.

>Crime – the Number One Issue

August 21, 2010

>These signs have sprouted up around the city. However, it’s hard to stop and read them. So here. Take your time.

The first item – violence in our city? Crime in Bessemer – there has been at least one more murder in Bessemer since I posted that. Christopher Ward was killed on August 7.

The other night at the candidates forum the candidates were asked what the most important issue to the city Bessemer is. The answers varied: “Perception,” said Darayl Blue (with a positive reaction from the audience); Ed May agreed.

In Ed May’s eyes, that’s all crime is, perception. See this column from the Western Tribune, June 10, 2009.

I know a victim of violent crime in Bessemer. It was not perception that his front door was busted in. It was not perception that he was knocked around. It was not perception that he was forced at gunpoint and told he was going to die.

Crime is a reality in Bessemer.

Ken Gulley was the only candidate to look the citizens in the eye and unabashedly tell them that the number one issue in the city is crime.

Picture credit – Nancy Hartzog

Do away with crime, and perception will improve. Do away with crime, and home sales will increase. Do away with crime, and children will have a better environment in which to learn. Do away with crime, and businesses will want to locate here. Do away with crime, and the citizens will spend time outdoors, will get to know their neighbors, will not be reluctant to work in their yards.

Do away with crime, and our quality of life will improve.

I’m no fool, however, and I don’t think we will ever completely do away with crime.

But it certainly is not going to improve until we have a mayor that recognizes it as a problem.

Just one more reason that Ken Gulley should be our next mayor.

>For Mayor

August 10, 2010

>There are five challengers hoping to unseat the current mayor of Bessemer, and of the six candidates, only one has the qualifications and the vision necessary to lead us into a new era.

Eight years ago, the people of Bessemer decided a change was in order. Our city had been declared “past the point of no return.” As we look around we don’t see evidence of the change we were promised. Oh we have a shiny new shopping center out Eastern Valley Road and a theater
and some nice restaurants. The same can be said for the Academy Drive area.

But our neighborhoods are crumbling, trash is piled in our alleys, and crime is as bad or worse than it was a decade ago.

The people of Bessemer do not feel good about their city, and they are not inspired to work with each other, or to support the city council, because of the lack of leadership and lack of evidence that the mayor and council are doing anything to help our city progress.

I proposed a list of qualifications that the next mayor of Bessemer should possess. One candidate met these standards and agreed with all these qualifications.

The Progressive Bessemer Coalition has endorsed Ken Gulley for mayor.

Ken Gulley kicked his campaign off in March. Here are Bob Pennington, Gulley, Otis Smith and Hank Tyler at that event.

Image courtesy the Western Tribune

In a conversation with the candidate he said this about the list, “All those things can be summed up; we want good government.”

The list included taking control of the budget (in a transparent way), having a vision for the city and a plan to get us there, a person who can get along with the council and share information with the city, be committed to transparency, must be squeaky clean, must be committed to addressing our crime problem, and must live in Bessemer and support Bessemer in everyday living.

The Gulley family

Supporting Bessemer is something Ken Gulley has done all his professional life. Not long after receiving his degree in business management from Alabama A & M University he began working in Bessemer city government, so he has a foundation in how government works, and how the city is organized. After he left city government, he continued to contribute to Bessemer by serving on several community boards and organizations including the Red Cross and the Bessemer Chamber of Commerce.

His vision for the city includes “sound fiscal management, structure and accountability, a state of the art school system, a clean and beautiful city, promoting more tourism and new businesses to our city.”

He also says that he will “work to unify the relationship of the mayor and council, so that we can work together to attract more residents, businesses and tourism.”

He has promised to treat city employees fairly, and will work to make their salaries comparable to surrounding cities.

He will find funding for youth and senior citizens recreational programs.

He will work to restore the Bessemer Home Rehabilitation Program, which assisted qualified elderly residents who needed renovations to preserve their homes.

He also will examine the status of the First Time Buyers Program. Under this program approximately 50 homes were built, giving those that did not qualify for home ownership under regular conventional methods the opportunity to enjoy the American dream.

These are just a few of real and reachable goals of the Gulley administration.

Vote for Ken Gulley on August 24.

You can find out more about Ken Gulley at Voteken2010 (click on “On the issues”) or by attending the Mayoral Candidate Forum on Tuesday, August 17 at 6 pm. the event is free to the public, and all 6 candidates are expected to speak and answer questions. The forum will be at Bessemer city High School.

The City Council and School Board Forums will be on Thursday, August 12 (Districts 1, 2 and 3)and Monday, August 16 (Districts 4, 5, 6 and 7) at 6 pm. More on these later.

>Bessemer election primer

July 23, 2010

>Next month Bessemer voters will return to the polls to elect the next mayor and city council and school board.

There is a big grumble among the masses about the local officials, and many are calling for a clean sweep, at least among the races for council and mayor.

This is not the year for incumbency. The entire Jefferson County Commission will be new. Incumbents in state and national legislative positions are in trouble.

Let’s bring it on down to the local level.

There are only 4 city council members seeking re-election. Two others are trying to unseat the mayor and one is poised to become a county commissioner.

Only 2 of the 7 school board seats are being contested.

And there are 6 candidates for mayor.

The Progressive Voice of Bessemer has about decided who the best candidates are to lead us into the next decade. These will be announced shortly. In the meantime, join our new facebook group, Progressive Bessemer Coalition. After you join, start a discussion or post a comment on the wall. And invite your friends that want to see some change in our city.

Oh, and about our endorsements. They are based on a candidate’s progressive platforms, their level of education, and their response to the pressing issues rather than on money given to the group, old friendships, pay backs and expectations.

And remember, candidates, especially those for mayor, these are the things that you need to be concerned about.

Candidates for council should be concerned about historic preservation and restoration of neighborhoods, ability to work with the business community, “plays well with others” (ability for the council and mayor to behave like grownups), community garden support, finding a way to build a rec center for teens and seniors, respect for retirees, and other issues.

Here are the candidates:

Mayor: Louise Alexander (current city council), Donald Ballard, Darayl Blue, Dorothy Davidson (current city council), Kenneth Gulley, Edward May (current mayor). These candidates are also known as Lu Lu, Don, D.M., Dot, Ken and Ed.

City Council District 1: Ronnie Johnson, Temike Reasor, Robert A. Thomas, David Vance

City Council District 2: Albert Grant, Chester Porter, Sherrina V. Rice

City Council District 3: Sarah Wallace Belcher (incumbent), Jessie Burrell

City Council District 4: Ralph Hodge, Donna Thigpen

City Council District 5: Ron Marshall, Albert Soles (incumbent), Robert Dale White

City Council District 6: Jesse Matthews (incumbent), Edward E. May II, Dock Scott

City Council District 7: Earl J. Cochran Sr (incumbent), LaBrenda Marshall Jones, Cleo King

Board of Education District 1: Vera M. Eades (incumbent)

Board of Education District 2: Earlean B. Cochran, Lester S. Mulligan Sr., Janet A. Ruffin

Board of Education District 3: Renna Soles Scott (incumbent)

Board of Education District 4: Samuel Morris (incumbent)

Board of Education District 5: Darlene Perkins (incumbent)

Board of Education District 6: Christine Knight (incumbent)

Board of Education District 7: Hattie J. Aikerson (incumbent), Elvira Kidd, Wanda Faye Thomas, Carolyn Wilson Hudson

I ran into current school board member Bessie Pippens (District 2) at the grocery store yesterday. Ms. Pippens has been a prominent figure around the Bessemer political scene for a long time and I believe she was the first female city councilor. She will not be running for school board this election as she has other priorities that must be tended to. I am sure the school board will miss her cool-headedness and her leadership.

New on Bessemer Opinions are the reaction buttons, and the new share buttons below. You can express your like or dislike or other reaction to each post and easily share a favorite post on facebook, twitter, or a number of other sites.

>Bessemer politics move toward city elections

July 14, 2010

>Politics never ends. Last night we celebrated a huge victory for the people of the 7th Congressional District and today we are right back at it beginning our coverage of the Bessemer municipal elections. Voting will take place August 24, as we select a mayor and council and school board members.

But first, a big congratulations to Terri Sewell. Terri won 8 of the 12 counties in the district, including Jefferson, where she trailed in the June 1 primary election.

Congratulations also to Lawrence McAdory who won another term as State House 56 representative, and to Annetta Verin who beat Dan King in the Circuit Court 12 race.

A call for leadership in Bessemer

In one of the more recent Birmingham mayoral elections (and there have been several) the Birmingham News published an editorial describing the characteristics their next mayor should have.

Let’s suppose that any mayor of any town should have those characteristics, and thus apply them to Bessemer.

1. We need a mayor who understands city finances and how to take control of the budget.

Bessemer’s finances are a mystery. For years there have been calls for an audit that would reveal where the tax money that the citizens of Bessemer fund the city with actually goes. The next mayor must not be shy. He or she must agree to a forensic audit. He or she should also present the budget to the council in a timely manner each year.

In 2008 the city council requested an audit. Then again, in 2009 the city council again requested an audit.

Time and time again, after such requests, nothing has happened.

Let’s just be blunt. The people do not trust the current administration, and it acts as though it has something to hide. Usually when someone acts as if there is something to hide, there is.


An audit of the city finances in 2002 showed that the city was $600,000 in the red at the end of the fiscal year. By 2006, according to these articles, the city’s debt had mushroomed to $2.7 million. The citizens wonder what the financial situation is now.

2. We need a mayor who has a vision for the city’s future and a plan to get us there.

“Bessemer has such potential.” We hear this from candidates every year. Election after election we hear this, yet that potential remains untapped. I’m tired of hearing it. Instead of saying it, do something about it.

The perception is that the administration of this city does not work well with the business community within in or outside of the city. We need a mayor who will support and fund the Chamber of Commerce, and who will work with agencies or departments who work to bring both business and tourism into the city.

What is the candidate’s vision for the city? Does this candidate see Bessemer in four years much the same as it is now? Does their plan merely involve treading water, in order to keep the city afloat? Does the candidate have a robust plan for development, bringing business and residents into the city?

Bessemer’s population now (as of July 2009) is 28,772. Bessemer has lost population since 2000. What is the candidate’s population goal for 2014?

Median household income is $28, 816. What will the candidate do to help bring this number up?

Research has shown that when the “creative class” is retained or attracted to a city, that the quality of life for all the residents improves. The creative class includes people who use creative problem solving in their daily lives. Lawyers, health care providers, professors, writers, editors, artists, analysts, opinion writers and others are included in the creative class.

People who are creative in their daily work also bring that ability home and into their neighborhoods. In general, they enjoy outdoor life, and desire walking trails and parks but also cultural venues such as art galleries and theaters and concert halls. The entire community would benefit from these types of development.

What can the candidate, as mayor, do to attract these people to our city?

3. The mayor needs to be a person who can get along with city council and who can share information freely (among themselves and with the public).

The mayor and members of the city council have acted in publicly embarrassing ways in the past at official meetings (council meetings) and unofficial (town hall) meetings. These antics have been recorded and broadcast on television, and do nothing to improve the image of our city.

There is no reason to believe that those who behave in such a manner will change their ways.

4. The mayor must be committed to absolute transparency.

Making the claim of an open door policy does not indicate transparency. How can the candidate assure us of transparency in his or her administration?

5. The mayor must be squeaky clean.

We do not need to have the distraction of scandal or ethics investigations drawing our attention away from doing what is necessary to move this city forward.

6. The mayor must be committed to admitting we have a crime problem.

He or she should guide, yet allow, the police department to develop crime fighting strategies and hold the chief and police department accountable for levels of crime in our city.

7. The mayor must live in Bessemer, and support Bessemer in their everyday living.

As the election nears, these issues, and others, will be explored more thoroughly on Bessemer Opinions.

There will be other issues that are important as well, but these seven are critical, if we are to see our city move forward.

And to move our city forward, there will have to be some changes on the city council as well.

Candidates for council can look at this list and get an idea of things they can do to achieve this goal. We will have a separate list of issues for school board candidates soon.