Voters voice concernsPublished 2:00am Saturday, September 29, 2012
Brewton voters want to see economic development and an improved quality of life — concerns they’ve made known to candidates vying for the city’s top seat.
A run off election for Brewton’s mayor is set for Oct. 9 with opponents Yank Lovelace and Frank Nalty campaigning for the seat.
Both candidates say their time on the campaign trail has given them a chance to hear the concerns of the citizens and issues facing the city. Chiefly among those concerns are economic development, jobs and quality of life — issues that are all dependent upon the other.
Lovelace said the opinions and concerns of today’s voters are not different from those in the past.
“I’m hearing the same issues that my great-great-grandfather heard,” Lovelace said. “Some things are always important to people. Things like improved schools, economic development and more opportunities for our children are always at the top of everyone’s list.”
Nalty said those voters he has interacted with on the campaign trail are voicing the same concerns for the same issues — jobs and quality of life.
“The people of this community want to make sure they have a nice place to live by living in Brewton,” Nalty said. “They want to see a good — and better — quality of life for themselves and for their children. That’s what I want to see, too. I know that it takes good leadership to progress and I have that experience, the connections and the desire to see this city move forward.”
Lovelace said he has worked toward the economic development for Brewton and the region in an effort to improve the city’s quality of life.
“For many years, I have been involved in helping spur economic development projects in our region through Coastal Gateway, and the record is clear that effort has been successful,” Lovelace said. “Reports show millions in investment by existing and new industry and hundreds of jobs thanks in part to Coastal Gateway’s approach in our region. I believe Brewton is in an excellent position to take advantage of the record-breaking growth in our state—if we set the stage through workforce development. Airbus, Hyundai, Austal and several other projects on the verge of being announced will impact Brewton if we have people trained and ready to take those jobs. We stand to land support industry here—but only if we are ready for them. It starts with a new approach in education that focuses on career tracks in high-demand occupations, and includes 21st Century technology at every grade level. We have a community college and university presence here that can deliver high tech training for our workers. I have already been meeting with local and state leaders in education to forge the kind of partnerships this effort will take. This approach has been highly successful for neighboring cities. With the resources we have, we should be leading in economic development. With workforce development initiatives in place, we will be.”
Nalty said he knows that economic development and quality of life go hand-in-hand, and the efforts to reach that end will take work, a job he’s ready to do.
“For this city to be able to have things like bowling alleys, a theater and nice restaurants, we have to have more people living and working in this community,” Nalty said. “We have to have the demographics in the town to support those kinds of businesses and to attract that kind of business to our area. It is important to move forward for the city and our residents. I have plans for the future of Brewton and I’m ready to put that plan into action.”
Lovelace said schools are already an asset to the community, but improvement is always needed.
“One of our greatest assets is our school system, recognized for decades as one of the best in our region,” Lovelace said. “But even in the best systems, we must continuously strive for improvement. Right now, leading school systems in our state have already started shifting toward industry-driven technology upgrades. For our children to compete for high-tech jobs, we need to put 21st Century technology in every classroom and invest heavily in workforce development.”
Nalty said his eye is also on the children of the community and in seeking and providing opportunities for youth year round.
“The people I have spoken with say they want to see more sports and activities opportunities for the children in our community and to see it at a reasonable cost,” Nalty said. “We need to nurture our children and by have more after school activities, more affordable team sports opportunities we can help our children achieve wonderful things. We also need to see that we have a viable community center filled with activities and opportunities, not only for children, but also for the community at no cost to the city. We can see that happen and I’m ready to do my part to reach those goals.”