City council candidates speak at forum

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2020

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One candidate running in each district participated in a candidate forum held by the Concerned Citizens of Atmore on July 18 at The Club.

The forum was moderated by Atmore Advance Content Manager Andrew Garner, and candidates were asked a number of questions. Each candidate had a certain time limit to answer each question.

The candidates who participated included Bub Gideons, District 5; Courtney Leslie, District 1; Angela Arnold, District 2; Eunice Johnson, District 3; and Logan Walston, District 4.

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The questions included how each would help give a voice to their constituents; addressing the critical challenges in each district; whether they support an Atmore City School system; combating crime with dual effort from citizens and police; and how each would spark new development and growth in the city.

Gideons said all citizens need to know what’s happening within the city government at all times with full transparency.

“If a decision is being made or considered, out input should be allowed and or expected,” Gideons said. “What we can do is set up a way to communicate better.”

Leslie said action can be done when one listens to their constituents.

“Once you can listen to the people, then you can sit down with the people to come up with a better game plan,” Leslie said. “I don’t believe any one person has all of the answers. I do believe if we can work together, we can pull together.”

Arnold proposes having a constituents chat once a month to bring their concerns toward the council.

Johnson said it’s important to educate others so they can make better, informed decisions.

“When you educate them, you give them a voice,” Johnson said. “Knowledge is power. We are trying to figure out what to do with our kids (for school). We need a body and government of the city council to step up to know what to do in times like this.”

Walston said he believes there needs to be an advisory committee, and that the city council’s meeting time needs changing.

Both, he said, will help the city be more transparent.

Each candidate was asked whether or not they are in favor of a city school system.

“I have not had the opportunity to see the feasibility study,” Gideons said. “Has it been released? I haven’t seen it publicly. What I do know is that I want the best darn school on this end of the county, and not shipping money to the other end.”

“We need education,” Leslie said. “How can one grow unless they don’t? We are seeing an abundance of young people of all races that are out on the streets now. They don’t know what to do or which way to go.”

Johnson said the current school system isn’t working for the children.

“Right now, I would (support it) because the current system we have now is not working,” she said. “Our teachers, they need to have the skill and ability to get the job done. The kids need to be educated. We need to have schools to get our children educated.”

On combating crime, candidates had a wide range of answers.

“We need to get communities talking together again,” Gideons said. “We stay on our phones. It goes back to some basics. If you see something, say something.”

Leslie said something can be done with the buildings that aren’t in use.

“Throughout the city of Atmore, I think we need to go through and get these houses down,” he said. “If we allow these people places to go and set up camp, we need to police those areas. We have simple buildings in Atmore that can be used to grow our youth.”

Johnson and Walston said efforts need to be taken to provide the necessary training for police officers.

The municipal election will be held Tues., Aug. 25, 2020.