Discussing the issues
The need for increased revenue and doing something trying to attract an emergency facility at Hartselle Hospital were two of the top issues for candidates seeking office in Hartselle during the 2012 Candidate Forum sponsored by the Hartselle Enquirer and the Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce.
Among the mayoral candidates, each differed slightly on the city’s top priorities.
Don Hall’s top priority was to see the bypass around downtown completed in the near future. Both Lee Hartsell and Johnnie Howell agreed that the need for having some type of medical facility to replace Hartselle Hospital.
“I think we should go to the Legislature and ask them to change the law to allow Hartselle to have an emergency room without having an inpatient facility,” Hartsell said.
However, Howell said the city needed to approach Huntsville Hospital about putting a medical facility at Hartselle Medical Center.
“We need to ask Huntsville Hospital about having emergency services and ancillary medical facility right here in Hartselle,” Howell said.
When asked about putting restrictions on alcohol sales if the city went wet, each felt it was important to stay conservative.
“The proposed alcohol ordinance that we have is very tight,” Hall said. “We need to beef up patrols to prevent underage drinking, DUIs and other illegal activities.”
Hartsell and Howell also felt it was necessary to restrict alcohol advertising in town.
In Council Place 1, Bill Drake said the city needs more jobs and not more restaurants. He also would support raising taxes for certain things.
“If the one-cent sales tax would give employees raises, I’ll support it,” Drake said. “If the sales tax would be for some other project, I wouldn’t necessarily support it.”
Thompson believes drainage issues and growing revenues are the most important issues in Hartselle.
“The Morgan Center Business Park will be important to growing revenue in the city,” Thompson said.
In Place 2, A.D. Hargrove said the city needed to control its expenses. “We need to clear our city debt,” he said.
While Bill Smelser said Hartselle Hospital as it was would never exist again, he believes the key to growing revenue is infrastructure. “Infrastructure is the most important issue.”
In Place 3, Bill Roberson said, “We need every source of we can get.”
Karen Owens said, “I will fight for Hartselle and I will make the best decisions for Hartselle.”
Glenn McGann said, “If elected, I will try not to mess (the public works department) up,” adding that it’s already running smoothly.
George Hearring believes traffic at new high school is a top priority with having so many people going to both the high school and F.E. Burleson Elementary.
In Place 4, incumbent Tom Chappell said he and the city employees run a tight budget. “We’re a lean mean funding machine,” he said.
Dick Carter said his top priorities are getting the traffic lights changed in downtown and getting turn lanes on Alabama 36 and U.S. 31.
In Place 5, Franklin Delano Turney said Hartselle needs jobs that pay more than just $7-$8 per hour. “Morgan Center Business Park could help with that.”
Ken Doss wants the city to have a clear vision of the future. “Hartselle needs to articulate a vision for the future – what we want, how we live and what city will look like.”
Jason Armstrong gave the audience his ways to increase city revenue: “balance the budget and cut wasteful spending.”
In the board of education race for Place 5, incumbent Byrune Rollins said he wants to see the city offer Pre-K to all 4-year-olds in the city.
Venita Jones believes recent raises passed in the city went to the wrong people. “It wasn’t fair for school administrators to get a raise, but not schoolteachers.”
The deadline to register to vote for the election is Friday at 5 p.m. Absentee ballots are also available. Applications must be obtained and turned into City Clerk/Controller Rita Lee by Aug. 23.