Current Prichard City Councilman Lorenzo Martin has announced he will run for mayor, promising to fight blight and end what he calls the city’s “financial insecurity.”
“I’ve always run my campaign and treat my time in office by putting citizens’ first,” Martin said. “Financial stability and an improved quality of life is something we haven’t seen in a number of years. The city is at a turning point and we need to change the administration to make it happen.”
The current District 1 councilman has had more than a few public disagreements with Mayor Jimmie Gardner, who he will face in the election. One of which was with the administration’s decision to move ahead with a city-run garbage pickup service. Gardner has announced he will run for re-election.
The service began in February of this year when the city ended its contract with Republic and bought garbage cans and trucks. At the time, Gardner said the new, in-house service would save the city $400,000 per year as current public works employees would be trained to collect the rubbish in automated trucks.
However, Martin has doubts about the savings and has advocated for a cost analysis to be done both on the in-house service and on the previous contract to see which would be more cost effective over time.
Also, while Martin said he understands on occasion truck drivers will miss picking up cans from week to week, a number of residents have called his office to complain about issues with the service.
“Citizens call about their garbage not being picked up,” Martin said. “It’s more regular than normal. I think it’s due to a lack of employees and staffing.”
If the city is going to continue to move forward with its in-house garbage collection, Martin said public works employees need a pay raise.
Martin also favors repairing the city’s relationship with the Prichard Water Works and Sewer Board (PWWSB). For years, the city and the PWWSB have had a back-and-forth related to which entity is responsible for the upkeep of fire hydrants. The issue has resulted in an ongoing lawsuit and has caused hydrants in the city to be nonfunctional.
Martin wants to make the city’s fire department is wholly responsible for the upkeep of hydrants and take the burden off the water board.
“I would lean very strongly on the fire department to maintain hydrants and give recommendations for where new hydrants should be placed,” Martin said. “Everyone wants to know they’re safe in their homes from the impact of the possibility of fire.”
Martin also wants to take a stronger stance on blight remediation; however, he was quick to point out it doesn’t mean every abandoned house should be torn down.
“We can’t move the city forward without those things being taken care of,” he said. “I want to start an aggressive effort to reverse blight.”
Martin said the effort could include an incentive program to allow homes to be refurbished. He also said he wants to work with the Prichard Housing Authority to find tenants for newly renovated homes.
As for the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin said he feels the city could do a better job communicating with residents about the virus.
“We need to communicate more about where we are and where we’re going,” he said. “We need to inform them of the actions being taken, like we do with hurricanes and other natural disasters.”
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