It’s not unreasonable to call Mobile City Council District 6 candidate Deryl Pendleton a “jack of all trades,” as the cliché goes. While he is currently a pastor and a financial adviser, Pendleton has held jobs as a teacher, salesman and corrections officer as well. He hopes to bring that wealth of experience in many different fields to the council.
“I wanted to be in ministry and be a pastor,” the University of Mobile graduate said. “Those other jobs were just so they wouldn’t interfere with church. I taught school because I didn’t have to work on weekends. I was in sales because I didn’t have to work on weekends. For the most part, I took less-paying jobs so I could do what I wanted.”
Now the pastor of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church on Michigan Avenue, Pendleton also works as an independent financial services broker. He believes his work experience, especially in ministry, will serve him well if elected as a representative of the district.
“I like helping people, working with them, being involved in their lives, teaching, training,” he said. “You kind of do a little bit of everything.”
As a member of the City Council, Pendleton said he would want to focus on law enforcement and giving the city’s police everything they need to perform at a high level.
“Crime just seems to be a major thing,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the police department’s fault. I think a lot of them are underpaid. They start in Mobile and go somewhere else for more money. We’ve got to pay them more so we can keep some experienced people here.”
Keeping experienced officers in Mobile uniforms will help with crime and cut down on negative incidents with civilians, he said.
“It’s about getting them the kind of things they need, training and support because, you know, the issues today with Black Lives Matter and things like that,” he said. “It’s easy to say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ but every policeman isn’t bad. There are some issues in the Black community that need to be addressed, but those issues also need to be addressed, I guess, with the law enforcement that, for whatever reason, aren’t following regulations, because I know the regulations are right.”
Future councilors will have a say in how to handle the city’s capital improvement program (CIP). CIP uses $21 million raised through a sales tax increase, splits it evenly between the seven council districts and allows councilors and the administration to determine where the money goes. By and large, it is used for bigger-ticket infrastructure and drainage issues throughout the city.
While there are “some issues,” in District 6, Pendleton said, citywide issues tend to be more immediate. He noted some District 6 voters would not approve of that sentiment, but Pendleton mentioned Michigan Avenue, where his church sits.
“It’s bump city going down that road,” he said. “So, I don’t understand for so long why that hasn’t been improved. There are some areas of District 6 that still need some work, but I don’t think it’s as bad as other parts of the city.”
The biggest infrastructure concern Pendleton sees is District 6 has to do with traffic congestion.
“I think in District 6 it’s mostly traffic, you know, right there at Hillcrest and Grelot can get bogged down a lot,” he said.
The issue of growing the city through annexation does not appear to be going away anytime soon. Annexation has been a sort of political football for some time in Mobile. Most recently, Mayor Sandy Stimpson brought a proposal in 2019 that would’ve allowed roughly 13,000 residents of an unincorporated part of West Mobile to decide to join the city. The council voted down the possible referendum after the proposal failed to receive five affirmative votes.
Pendleton said he supports annexation if it’s done the right way. He didn’t elaborate on what exactly was the right way. He did say the question would require more research.
“I do want to see the city grow and it seems it has gone down some,” he said. “I think if you do it right it could be the right thing to do.”
A future council could also have a say on what happens with the return of passenger rail to Mobile. Amtrak has proposed a train with twice-daily service from the Port City to New Orleans and the council has previously appropriated $3 million over three years to help fund it. However, the funding relied on the completion of a modeling study involving freight rail carriers and Amtrak.
Instead of completing the study the company said took too long during the COVID-19 pandemic, Amtrak has brought its case to the Surface Transportation Board to decide whether it has a right to use the freight rail lines, regardless.
Pendleton said while the passenger rail service would be nice to have, he also understands the true costs need to be examined and that includes the modeling study.
“It would be easy to say we’ve done without it this long, why do we need it now, but you can’t look at it that way,” he said. “You have to look at everything in perspective and make sure that you know it’s going to be a good thing for the city and financially feasible for the city.”
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