Members of the Mobile City Council congratulated their colleagues on winning four more years in office before getting back to business Wednesday at Government Plaza.

All five incumbents facing challengers Tuesday evening won handily. Council President Gina Gregory and District 2 Councilman Levon Manzie ran unopposed.

Councilwoman Bess Rich, who defeated challenger Deryl Pendleton to claim the District 6 seat, said the winning margin felt like “affirmation” following the campaign.

“It’s an honor and a privilege,” she said.

Rich did mention some issues concerning a shortage of provisional ballots at polling locations in her district Tuesday. She said the problem was quickly rectified and blamed it on simply not having enough provisional ballots on hand at certain precincts.

“They didn’t anticipate the number of people who came and whose names didn’t appear on the rolls,” Rich said.

Councilman C.J. Small, who beat challenger Leola Chaney with 80 percent of the vote, said he was “happy” to be re-elected to the District 3 seat.

“I’m going to work even harder than I did last time,” Small said, following the pre-council meeting Wednesday morning.

Later during the announcement portion of the City Council meeting, Small rattled off a short list of accomplishments during his time in office, including the renovation of Doyle Park, the recruitment of Airbus, the development of McGowin Park and the rebuild of the District 3 portion of Ann Street.

“We’ve done many great things,” he said. “There’s more to come. We’ll make things even greater ….”

Councilman John Williams, who defeated challenger Robert Martin with 70 percent of the vote Tuesday, said he was “ecstatic.”

“People vote for two reasons,” he said. “Either they’re very satisfied with government, or they’re very dissatisfied. Voters confirmed they’re pleased with our government.”

In other business, the council set hearings for Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s fiscal year 2018 proposed budget, which was submitted to councilors Monday. The public hearing on the budget will take place Tuesday, Sept. 5. The first reading of the budget will take place on the same day, with an expected vote on the plan possibly slated for Tuesday, Sept. 12, or Tuesday, Sept. 19.
The budget will be presented at a finance committee meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 3 p.m. in the council conference room on the ninth floor of Government Plaza.

Stimpson announced a public-private partnership featuring help from New Orleans Pelicans forward and Mobile native DeMarcus Cousins. Along with Nike, Cousins will help the city build a new basketball complex at Figures Park with fencing, lights and bleachers, Stimpson said.
He told councilors more information would be available at a later date.

Councilman Fred Richardson, who won 66 percent of the vote in a crowded District 1 field, advocated for a city school system during Wednesday’s meeting. He said a city school system could help city leaders better deal with crime committed by young people in the area. Richardson said he would work on that during his next four years in office.

Rich also mentioned that the council would look into approving a resolution to support a state law that would call for church-sponsored day care centers to be regulated. The bill was introduced during the last legislative session but didn’t make it out of the state Senate.

Rich said the issue was extremely important, given the recent death of 5-year-old Kamden Johnson.