Brewton mayoral candidates respond
Candidates for Brewton’s mayor have a variety of answers as to how to address the challenges the city faces.
Mayor Ted Jennings will be stepping down from the position he has held through several terms.
David Jennings, Yank Lovelace and Frank Nalty all hope to win the soon-to-be-vacant seat at the top spot for the city.
The Brewton Standard posed three questions to candidates, asking what they believe are the toughest issues the city faces and how they would approach them; what is their vision for the city; and what experience they bring to the position.
Jennings said the city is facing many challenges, but isn’t alone in the battle.
“I think the challenges facing Brewton are many,” Jennings said. “I don’t know that you single out just one area and say that any one thing is the most important. The issues facing Brewton are not unlike issues facing every single city in this country. The economic uncertainty heading into 2013 is of great concern. The age/condition of our existing infrastructure is going to be a challenge and some very strategic planning is going to have to take place to handle these troublesome issues. We need to continue to be good partners with the school system and recreation programs to make sure that our children are receiving the very best in these areas. In addition to these areas and others not mentioned here, we (the city) need to make sure whatever services/programs we are responsible for are provided in a way that makes all of our citizens proud. Sometimes this will mean doing more with less. In meeting the day to day challenges you want to be careful to not recreate the wheel, surround yourself with good folks, clearly communicate the goals and the standards that we are going to hold ourselves to and then just serve the community. Customer service is a dying concept in this country. Anyone receiving a City of Brewton paycheck, including elected officials should remember who is responsible for those monies. Simply put, it’s about serving the public with pride and passion.”
Jennings said his vision for the city of Brewton is to do what is needed to continue to move forward.
“Brewton is more racially diverse now than it has ever been, and that is not going to change,” Jennings said. “I think it is of the utmost importance to remember that as decisions are made moving forward. In my lifetime Brewton has always been a place where it’s people carried themselves with tremendous pride. I can’t help but think about people such as Sammie Smith, Charlie Ballard, Lisa Thomas, many others who have taken it upon themselves to go over and beyond of what was expected of them. It has always been the people that have made Brewton such a special place. I hope that we all want Brewton to be a place where one can make a decent living, raise a family, where one’s children can obtain a top flight education, play/live on clean, safe streets, and enjoy some quality of life events that only a small town can provide. This is what Brewton was for me growing up, and this is my vision for Brewton as we move forward together.”
Jennings also said he hopes to continue his work as a public servant for the people of Brewton.
“I think if one aspires to be a true public servant, one has to have a strong sense of volunteerism,” Jennings said. “I think the two go hand in hand. Think for a minute about the term public servant — working for the public and working for the greater good. I am very proud to say that I have volunteered my time for the last 18 years with the city’s recreation program, serving in every capacity possible. I take great pride in knowing that I have had a small hand in helping to shape the lives of our young people. I truly believe that the greatest investment one can make is that investment in a young person’s life. I also had the opportunity, as EMA Director, to serve Escambia County in the wake of Hurricane Ivan. That was an extraordinary event that offered a pretty sharp learning curve in serving the public. Whether rescue and recovery, debris removal, distribution of FEMA supplies, private/public entities requesting/receiving financial reimbursement, awarding/distributing/installing grant opportunities throughout the county, all of these areas were run through the EMA office. The best lesson I learned in the wake of Hurricane Ivan, and trust me the lessons were many, is the fact that when trying to work through governmental operations there was no substitute for having personal relationships throughout the county. You have to know the people — all the people. A big part of leading is being able to match talent to task. This cannot be done without having those personal established relationships in the community. When considering a move into politics the timing has to be right. For me, being a small business owner, father of two school aged children, parents who are getting older, I feel that time is now, and will serve me well if I am elected.”
Yank Lovelace, candidate for the office of Mayor of the City of Brewton, said job creation is the biggest issue facing the city.
“The single most important issue facing our city is job creation, virtually all candidates agree,” Lovelace said. “The difference between us is the approach I plan to use to bring Brewton to the forefront of industry recruiting. To accomplish that, I plan to focus efforts on improving our education system in K-12 schools and our community college and university offerings locally. All economic development begins with great schools, and the effort to improve education can never rest. Our community needs more opportunities for recreation from commercial offerings like theaters, bowling or skating to restaurants and community-sponsored events. I will work with community, business leaders and economic development agencies to accomplish that goal building on my established track record of team-building.”
Lovelace has a vision of what he can accomplish during the next four years.
“My vision for Brewton is simple. Our city should be at the forefront of industrial recruiting in our region as well as fostering growth in existing businesses. With the resources we have both in available, talented workforce and potential for growth, opportunities for young families should be abundant here. Brewton should be a place where government is transparent and responsive to the people at every level. I will take steps to ensure our city invests in infrastructure, education and 21st Century technology to be certain Brewton will never again be a ‘best-kept secret’ but rather the model for successful growth.”
Lovelace believes that with his experience in business and through community work qualifies him for the job of Mayor of Brewton.
“My family’s roots in Brewton run deep. I have lived here all my life and worked hard to build a successful business that grew to be among the top independent insurance agencies in Alabama. Along the way, I served on civic boards too numerous to mention giving me unparalleled perspective on the inner workings of various organizations as well as a broad-based network of public officials and business leaders. I was blessed to be a founder of the Coastal Gateway Economic Development Authority that allowed a network of rural counties to come together with regional industry dedicated to helping our part of the state tap into economic prosperity. I have established relationships with local, state and federal officials that will help navigate what will surely be more challenging times ahead. I am ready for the challenge, and ready to help Brewton make the next step forward.
Nalty said the challenges facing Brewton are many, but jobs and growth are at the top of the list.
“The big challenge is creating new jobs and promoting new incentives for existing business,” Nalty said. “We need to concentrate on Airbus suppliers. In other areas supply plants popped up around the area after a major industry moved in. We could see that here. The mayor has to be a salesman for the city and be ready to present our city in the best light possible when given the chance. If we can bring new jobs to our area, we can improve on the quality of life we already enjoy.”
Nalty said Brewton has many attributes and bringing those to the attention of industry leaders will help the city grow.
“I see our airport as a major hub for Airbus and their suppliers,” Nalty said. “Our runways are large enough to handle that and I’d like to see that happen. We also need to build on the plan to create a four-lane connector from I-65 to I-10. In four years, I hope to see a ground-breaking ceremony for that connector. I also have a plan to give downtown a facelift with a combination movie theater, concert/entertainment center and a community arts center. I want to establish a comprehensive, targeted industrial development program working with key contacts in Alabama and Washington, D.C., like Congressman Jo Bonner.”
Nalty said good leaders need to stay in touch with residents of the community to be effective.
“I continue to stay connected to the community and listen to what people in the surrounding community want and what the State of Alabama needs also,” Nalty said. “I have done business across the state and have served in a wide variety of public offices and I want to bring the knowledge and information I’ve learned from that to the office of the mayor. I have served as president and board member for the Chamber of Commerce and served on the Brewton Planning Commission giving me extensive knowledge of the capabilities and needs of our community. I was born and raised in this community where I went to school, married and am raising my family.”