Council hopefuls speak out

Published 4:16 pm Saturday, August 18, 2012

With less than two weeks to go before municipal elections in Atmore, candidates for mayor and city council are still working to get their messages out to the public before voters head to the polls Tuesday, Aug. 28.

This week, candidates for the Atmore City Council District 1 seat — Webb Nall and Chad Thrower — sat down with The Advance to touch on several pressing issues within the community, including the economy, crime and quality of life.

Incumbent Webb Nall said he is proud of how Atmore has fared during the tough economic state of the last decade.

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“Twelve years ago I got on the council, and since then we’ve lost Vanity Fair with 509 jobs,” Nall said. “We’ve lost our K-mart. We’ve been through three hurricanes. For us to be where we are economically, I think this administration has done a great job. I’m proud to have been a part of that team. And it is a team. It’s not a one-man show.”

Nall said the Rivercane development property near Interstate 65, in particular, has been a boost for Atmore’s economy, and he pointed to it as a source of revenue for the city for years to come.

“I’m all for Rivercane,” he said.

Thrower said he believes the key to economic prosperity is less government interference.

“Government is never a source of economic growth, rather just the opposite,” Thrower said. “We must understand that a free market unhindered by government influence is the best environment for economic progress. We can’t eliminate all government influence in our local economy, but we can start by evaluating the city government’s influence in the local market, such as unnecessary regulations, fees and taxes on businesses, and then start on a path to removing those economic ‘speed bumps’ and ‘roadblocks.’”

When it comes to crime, Thrower said Atmore’s law enforcement agencies need to tweak their priorities.

“I believe our law enforcement should set a lower priority on nonviolent and victimless crime,” Thrower said. “It seems quite wasteful and unfruitful to use city resources to set up things like roadblocks and checkpoints. It is my opinion that our law enforcement should set a higher priority toward predatory crimes taking place in the city, such as assaults, thefts, burglaries, rapes and robberies.”

Conversely, Nall praised the Atmore Police Department’s efforts at keeping crime to a minimum.

“We’ve got the same problems that every other town has got,” Nall said. “I think, basically, we’re on the upper level of everything being good. We have a good police force.”

Nall was also optimistic about quality of life in Atmore and said he expects it to only improve in the years to come.

“We’ve got recreational facilities,” Nall said. “We’ve got two swimming pools. We’ve got seven or eight ball fields. We’ve got tennis courts.”

Nall pointed to the Poarch Band of Creek Indian’s ongoing construction of an entertainment complex as a boost to quality of life.

Nall also addressed the fear that so much new industry north of Atmore, near Wind Creek Casino and Hotel and Rivercane, will pull businesses away from Atmore’s downtown district.

“What’s going (to Rivercane) is not closing downtown Atmore. McDonald’s hasn’t closed. Hardee’s hasn’t closed,” he said referring to the fact that new fast food restaurants, including a second McDonald’s location has recently opened at Rivercane. “I think the casino and Rivercane are only going to help. We’re soon to have a bowling alley and movie theaters and we already have a community theater now,” Nall said. “I think we’ve got a good quality of life here.”

Thrower said quality of life hinges on a balanced government, able to provide certain services with ease.

“I am an advocate for limited government, but I do not dismiss the necessary roles in which our government operates and can provide to our quality of life,” Thrower said. “The citizens of Atmore expect certain services from the local government, as they are due, but we must find the proper balance of necessary services to the related costs. By minimizing unnecessary expenditures we can focus our attention toward improving the existing services and benefits we find to be most necessary, such as our infrastructure, education, recreation and law enforcement.”