A whopping 16 candidates have qualified for Prichard’s five council seats as the Aug. 25 municipal elections inch closer.
With District 1 incumbent Lorenzo Martin running for mayor this year, the race for the seat is wide open. Joseph Giles Jr., Marshall Hunt, James Damien Lynum and Annie Williams are all in the contest.
Known more for a behind-the-scenes role in previous elections in Mobile and Prichard, Williams said she felt compelled to run in her hometown after a number of residents asked her to. One of the first things she would like to accomplish in office is implementing a more professional handling of communications between the mayor and council.
“I want to build strong relationships,” she said. “It takes all sides for the city to be what it needs to be.”
As part of that effort, Williams said, she would “engage citizens” more in planning projects and work to help the city be more transparent.
Born in Prichard and with 40 years of experience as a registered nurse, Williams said she loves her hometown.
“I’m proud to be a Prichard citizen,” she said.
Hunt is also a “lifelong citizen” of Prichard and wants to run for the District 1 seat because he’s seen a “major erosion of leadership” over the last several years.
“I want to move the quality-of-life issues forward,” he said. “Prichard is the second-largest city in Mobile County and we’ve got to get the financial situation in order.”
One reason for the poor financial condition of the city, Hunt said, is an erosion of the tax base. Some of the problems, he said, are caused by high water and power rates.
Hunt, who is the chairman of the Prichard Housing Authority Board, praised current Mayor Jimmie Gardner and the work he’s done in the last four years.
“He should’ve received more support,” Hunt said.
The District 2 race pits incumbent Severia Campbell-Morris against two challengers in Alexis Bell and Stephani Johnson-Norwood.
Campbell-Morris said she’s running for re-election because she wants to “continue to help to serve the people of Prichard, Alabama,” she said.
“I want to help them have a better lifestyle,” Campbell-Morris said.
As for accomplishments, Campbell-Morris praised a tightening of procedures designed to add more accountability for the city’s financial obligations. She said she used $5,000 in her district’s discretionary funds to help residents pay expensive water bills and has helped to find funding to pave 20 streets in District 2.
Campbell-Morris acknowledged issues existing between Gardner and councilors. She said communication between the two groups could be “much better,” although she blamed the administration for moving on things without giving the council prior knowledge.
“It’s poor communication, if I’m being honest,” she said.
The District 3 race pits incumbent Council President Derrick Griffin against challengers Mario Yow Sr. and Mario Cannon. Griffin did not return a call seeking comment. Yow and Cannon could not be reached.
Samantha Richardson is running for re-election in District 4. The councilwoman finishing up her first term as an elected official will face challenges from three others, including Chikesia Clemons, George McCall and Fisher Boykin.
Richardson said there is a lot she’d like to continue to accomplish in the seat.
“I have a passion for the community,” she said. “Being in office, I see things that need to be done and I ask people to support me in order to do it.”
Richardson said she helped pass several ordinances to improve the city and has worked to get a number of streets in District 4 added to the county’s pay-as-you-go program. She is also planning to introduce an economic development initiative along Wilson Avenue.
In another four years on the body, Richardson hopes to help the city’s police department become more transparent and help to make changes in the city’s Public Works Department.
“I’ve identified things I’ve seen that I’ve wanted to change,” she said. “I look forward to continuing the work I started.”
Boykin, a retired minister with Mobile Rescue Mission, said he’s running because the needs of the city have increased since he arrived some 40 years ago.
“Our needs have become great over the years,” Boykin said. “We need much improvement with ditches and streets and a reduction in crime.”
Clemons, who was the subject of a viral arrest video at a Saraland Waffle House, did not respond to an email asking questions about her candidacy. McCall did not return a phone call seeking comment.
District 5 will feature incumbent Ossia Edwards facing off against military veteran and community organizer Kalla D. Etheridge.
Edwards said she wasn’t going to run for re-election this time, but felt compelled to after seeing multiple issues creep up that “really wouldn’t be good for Prichard.”
“I will not abandon my people,” she said. “I will not leave them in a situation like that and not stand for them.”
Edwards said this upcoming term will be her last. She said she would set up a committee to help pick a candidate to succeed her.
Etheridge has done work for the Poor People’s Campaign and is “running for change,” she said. Currently, the city provides few activities for children and even fewer health care resources for the public.
Etheridge wants to help provide more housing for Prichard, which in turn, would allow more residents to move to the city and increase its tax base.
“Now we have to talk about things that will initiate change,” she said.
Etheridge, like many activists in the city, has found herself at odds with councilors during meetings. She wants to make it easier for residents to speak about the city’s issues at meetings.
“We’re muzzled as citizens,” she said.
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