Unlike 2017, a year where all of Mobile’s municipal incumbents were easily re-elected and some didn’t even have to run due to lack of opponents, 2021 promises a race in every district.
That’s true for District 7 incumbent Councilwoman Gina Gregory, who ran unopposed four years ago. Like many of the incumbents this time around, Gregory is running on her record and a promise to help complete projects started while she has been helming the district.
“I enjoy what I do,” Gregory said. “There are projects I’ve been in the middle of that I want to see to fruition.”
One such project is the widening from two lanes to four lanes of Zeigler Boulevard, which Gregory said has been “on the books” for “20 years or so.”
“It’s been something we’ve been talking about trying to bring to (The Alabama Department of Transportation) since I’ve been on council,” she said. “I want to make sure people in that part of the city see it come to fruition. A lot of people didn’t think it would happen.”
The improvements to Zeigler will not only include widening the road surface, but will also include landscaping, bike lanes and sidewalks, Gregory said.
Langan Park, the district’s premier park, is also in the midst of upgrades Gregory said she doesn’t want to miss. The park’s pavilion will be renovated by the end of the month, she said, and plans call for a refurbished amphitheater and restrooms. Farther down the line, Gregory said, she’s excited to see boats again on Langan Lake. Those improvements will be completed once the lake is fully dredged and the bank is stabilized. The plans also call for another pavilion on the water and a new boat house.
Other projects Gregory said she’s excited about include the Three Mile Creek Greenway, which when finished, expects to connect areas of the city near the University of South Alabama with areas downtown.
Gregory said the city also has plans to expand the Hillsdale Recreation Center to allow for senior activities.
“There was no true senior center on this side of town,” she said.
Issues like illegal dumping continue in District 7, Gregory said. She wants to continue to put up cameras to help deal with it.
Her opponent, Allan J. Barnes, a retired law enforcement officer, hopes to unseat her. In a biographical sketch, Barnes said he was part of the student body at Shaw High School that helped to change the mascot from a rebel to an eagle. The mascot was changed, he said, years after his graduation.
“Barnes has always had a nature to lead and encourage those that had a desire to change,” the bio reads. “Barnes became proactive in his community and school by advocating against injustices. Realizing at such a young age, we must always take sides.”
As an officer, Barnes said he had a strong desire to serve and to help others.
“He took it to heart that law enforcement officers are the only community servants in continual touch with the communities they serve,” the bio reads. “It is with that kind of compassion and sense of community responsibility, that he has considered the prospect of serving once again, you the citizens of Mobile as your City Councilman of District 7.”
Unlike Gregory, Council Vice President C.J. Small faced competition for the District 3 seat in 2017, but he won easily. Xaviaire Carnrike is challenging him in 2021. Like his colleague in District 7, Small is running on his record over nine years as a councilman.
When asked for an interview, Small directed a Lagniappe reporter to his campaign video. In the video Small talked about the successes he’s had after being appointed to the District 3 seat in 2012.
In 2012, he was appointed to a district he said in the video suffered from a long-time lack of capital funding. The road conditions were horrible, he said, as Baltimore and Ann Street needed fixing and a sinkhole had developed in front of Craighead Elementary School.
“It was definitely a hazard not only for students, but for the community at large,” he said.
In 2012, Small said there was no Boys and Girls Club along Dauphin Island Parkway and the police presence was lacking.
Since that time, Small said he has worked with members of the council and the administration to revitalize Ann and Broad streets, to establish a Boys and Girls Club location at Gilliard Elementary, place a recreation center at Newhouse Park, expand the DIP senior center and place a police precinct in the heart of the district.
“Even though much has been accomplished, there is still more work to do,” Small said in the video. “I want the opportunity to continue to move our district forward.”
Carnrike is a budding entrepreneur who believes the district could be better off with someone else at the helm.
Some of the big issues for Carnrike in District 3 include adding more buses, as well as litter in the area’s waterways.
As for the Capital Improvement Program, which takes $21 million from a one-cent sales tax and distributes it evenly among the seven council districts, resulting in $3 million per area, Carnrike called it a “good program” he wants to keep.
“I would keep it as it is until I better understand where the money is spent,” he said.
As for annexation, Carnrike said he’s for it, as long as it adds to the revenue of the city.
“I’m not for adding more people without the revenue,” he said. “They will all need police, fire and garbage pickup. You have to pay for all that.”
Carnrike, who grew up in the Maysville community, said he doesn’t want to see Ladd-Peebles Sports and Entertainment Complex torn down and instead wants to “put it to good use.”
Editor’s Note: Lagniappe has been covering the Mobile municipal election for months. The District 3 and 7 candidate interviews were the final ones in this series. To find interviews with the candidates in other districts and much more election coverage, please visit www.lagniappemobile.com/series/election2021.
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