A long-serving incumbent and a political newcomer are posturing for the District 1 seat on the Mobile City Council.
Challenger Timothy Hollis has jumped into the race against incumbent Fred Richardson for the seat during this year’s municipal election Aug. 22.
On the council since 1997, Richardson points to some recent successes as reasons he should be awarded another term. Richardson notes he was an early supporter of a nearly 20 percent sales tax increase used to fund infrastructure improvements throughout the city. A portion of that increase — an average of $3 million per year — given to each of the council’s seven districts has provided Richardson the funds to make much-needed improvements.
“I was finally able to get other council members to join me,” he said of voting in favor of the infrastructure money, now known as the capital improvement plan, or CIP. “The National League of Cities wants us to share [the idea] with other cities. That shows how bold it was.”
Before the CIP, Richardson said “not a penny” of taxpayer money flowed into his district for ditch maintenance or street repair. Nonetheless, he said he always advocated for the residents.
“I was there begging, but didn’t get a dime for 18 years,” he said. “We have now and I am so happy. I want to see that through.”
While Richardson said he has worked on improving parks by adding benches to the park in Trinity Gardens and being an early supporter of the Three Mile Creek greenway initiative, among other things, he said there’s more to do. He said he’d also like to continue to resolve some of the drainage issues plaguing some neighborhoods in the district.
Richardson also took credit for helping develop the Police Citizens Community Relations Advisory Council and claims he was the first councilor to bring community meetings to various neighborhoods.
Also, Richardson noted his two decades of experience as a local civil rights advocate working through groups such as the Neighborhood Organized Workers of Mobile.
“I’m living proof that it worked,” he said of his efforts. “I love what I do and I do what I love.”
Hollis, a Mobile native, said in a statement he is running because of his “love and commitment to his hometown, his deeply held desire to revitalize Mobile, and because of the need to bridge the gap between politics and the community.”
“A vote for Timothy Hollis is a vote to establish sidewalks and trails where needed, implement pedestrian safety measures, repair stormwater systems, ensure code compliance and enhance safety in all parks and recreation facilities of the District 1 communities,” according to the statement.
Hollis’ platform, which he calls the “Four Cornerstones,” focuses on community revitalization and economic development; strong parks, recreation facilities and programs; renewed engagement with public safety and giving a voice to the community.
Hollis plans to use discretionary funds for infrastructure and drainage issues, as well as improving parks, according to the statement. In addition, he pledges to keep a “close and healthy relationship” with members of the Mobile Police Department and the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department.
“I am not a politician,” the statement read. “I am a servant to the people … I am here to serve you, I am here to be your voice.”
Hollis previously worked for Cumulus Broadcasting as a member of the promotions and public relations team, as well as the production team and as an over-the-air announcer. He also helped to form the Toulminville Titans Youth Football Club.
Hollis, according to the statement, has been active in local, state and national issues as well. This includes questioning local leaders on the officer-involved shooting of Michael Moore; the cutting of funding for WAVE Transportation, which resulted in the elimination of several routes; and “standing up against” the appointment of former Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General.
Hollis has set up a GoFundMe account for his campaign. He appointed a principal campaign committee on April 11, according to Mobile County Probate Court records. There are no records yet of contributions to the campaign.
Richardson began reporting contributions in early February with $600, to put his campaign coffers at $2,601 after the incumbent spent $269 the previous month.
In the March report, Richardson received three separate $500 donations and a $200 donation. In the April report, there are no contributions listed but he spent $696.58.
Hollis joins Robert Martin, who is running against incumbent John Williams, and Leola Chaney, who is running in District 3 against incumbent C.J. Small, as challengers for City Council seats in the August election. The last day to qualify is July 19.