Both incumbent C.J. Small and challenger Leola Chaney would like to provide more activities for teenagers in District 3, if elected in August.
Small said he supports Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s Youth Empowered for Success, or YES program, which aims to provide summer jobs to teens in Mobile.
“I am working closely with the administration … ,” Small said. “Anything to keep kids busy.”
The YES initiative encourages local businesses to hire interns for summer employment. The city has been working closely with established internship programs through the Mobile Housing Board and the Mobile County Public School System signature academies to recruit businesses to hire teenagers. The city also plans to hire interns in several departments this summer.
Chaney said as a council member she would do more to impact teen engagement and wants to help New Generation International Church, of which she is a member, build a teen center in the district.
“There’s nothing for [teens] to do,” Chaney said. “They hang out on corners and walk up and down the street. If teens are engaged, crime goes down.”
Small said he would like to expand the Boys and Girls Club at Gilliard Elementary to a year-round program. Right now, it is offered only during the summer.
Small said this and other unfinished business is the reason he’s seeking another term on the council.
“When I took office, the Dauphin Island Parkway had no activities for kids,” Small said. “For the past four years, I’ve helped to sponsor and lead a Boys and Girls Club program at Gilliard Elementary. I want to continue to enhance the area for kids and for seniors as well.”
Small said he would aim to complete the revitalization of the District 3 side of Ann Street, which began during his current term and should be finished soon. Small said he would like to see revitalization work done on Baltimore Street, too.
In addition, Small said he would continue to work to revitalize parks in District 3. Doyle Park, near Brookley Aeroplex, underwent a successful transformation during his tenure.
The Friends of Doyle Park group, Airbus and Small teamed up to breath new life into the park, which sits next to an aeroplex runway.
Small also said he has plans to add a combination football/soccer field at Maitre Park and pump $500,000 of capital money into Trimmier Park.
One of its initial sponsors, Small said he feels great about the city’s capital improvement plan (CIP), which allocated money from a roughly 20 percent sales tax increase for capital projects in each of the seven districts.
He credits CIP with many of the projects happening in District 3.
“If it wasn’t for CIP a lot of things in the district wouldn’t have been completed,” Small said.
Chaney said she would reserve judgment on the capital improvement program until she learned more about it. The single mom and Air Force veteran said she’s spent a lot of time helping to improve the area as well through her work with New Generation’s Depository Into People’s Purposes, or DIPP.
The church-sponsored program allows Chaney to go out into the community and help in a number of ways, including feeding the homeless, as well as providing early parenting skills and job training, among other things, she said.
“We’re in the streets a lot,” Chaney said. “Some of the things I saw, I was like ‘what’s going on?’”
She said she took that concern and decided to run for the district’s City Council seat.
In addition to wanting to provide more activities for teenagers in the district, Chaney wants to improve economic development in the area as well.
“The economic development is horrible, there are no jobs available,” Chaney said. “The city is growing; construction is happening. What about District 3?”
She said she wants to start helping the district with this issue “from the inside out” and figure out why there’s no new construction in the area. Chaney would like to see new grocery stores and more restaurants as part of the new construction.
Chaney grew up in Orange Grove in Mobile, but left to join the military. She’s been back home for two years and feels she can relate to a large portion of the community.
“There’s not a group of people I can’t talk to,” she said. “It made me want to be an advocate or liaison for the community.”
District 1 candidate
Cory Penn announced he has joined the fray in District 1. With the addition of Penn, the campaign for the District 1 City Council seat now becomes a three-man race.
As a teacher, Penn said he felt compelled to run after a number of kids recently lost their lives to violence.
Penn wants to offer job training at the city’s recreation center as part of a plan to curb youth violence. In addition, he would work with the Mobile County Public School System to allow companies to come in and conduct job training and teach during classroom hours.
In addition to job training, Penn said he would like to start a safer streets initiative through social media sites, such as Facebook, “to know what’s going on down the street.”
Penn said he would create a police advisory council just for District 1 residents to help build relationships with officers who work in the district on a day-to-day basis.
“It would let each other know we are all District 1,” he said. “We are all together.”
The 32-year-old challenger is married to Ivonze, his high school sweetheart. They have a daughter, Kori Bell, and a second child on the way.
Penn will face incumbent Fred Richardson, as well as fellow challenger Timothy Hollis.