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Office-seekers respond to survey questions

Editor’s note: Today, The DAILY LEADER continues to publishcandidates’ responses to questions on several issues facing thecity. Today’s focus is on the Ward Two alderman race. In theDemocratic primary on May 5, incumbent Terry Bates faces VernastineByrd, Idella Sanders and Darryl White. Sanders and White did notrespond to the newspaper’s survey. A runoff, if needed, will beheld on May 19. There are no Republican candidates, so theDemocratic primary winner will be elected alderman. The job ofalderman pays an annual salary of $15,917.

Candidates’ responses have been checked for spelling but areotherwise printed as submitted. On Tuesday, the question and answerseries will look at candidates for alderman of Ward Three.

1. Brookhaven’s annexation took effect in July 2007, andcities typically have five years to provide municipal levelservices to newly incorporated areas. From your standpoint, what isyour opinion of city progress in your ward toward that goal so farand what specific things will you do as alderman to furtherprogress?

Bates:The state has guidelines for the boardand the city to follow. I will make sure that we stay within thoseguidelines.

Byrd: Since the annexation in 2007 I’ve noticedcity employers working aimless in areas that was once consideredout of the city limits. As alderman I would incorporate businessesin those areas to assist with the flow of and building the city ofBrookhaven.

2. The Dr. A.L. Lott Baseball League Program has haddifficulty attracting participants, with the program being canceledfor the 2007 year due to a lack of participation. What is youranswer for increasing participation, and what would you do insituations where parents have trouble paying leaguefees?

Bates: We need to work together to make thesituation work for everybody. When it says Brookhaven Recreationthat means everybody. It is not the East side or the West side, buteverybody (all children).

Byrd: The A.L. Lott Baseball League Program hasfor many years provided a form of socialization, entertainment andphysical communication in this community. In the past this programhas always been provided to everyone’s for participation.Participation could be the lack of not knowing the need of theperson or persons. If a person does not fell needed they tend notto support. I think if we allow the community to fell a sense ofworth and permit them to share their skills regardless to how mediait may seem they will be more adapt to commit themselves, theirtime and mostly their money. Allowing everyone the opportunity toshare his or her talents and skills not only give that personmobility but also build pride in individuals. As your alderman Iwould insist that we do not wait until baseball season start tocollect league fees but provide programs and committees to insureenough monies be available during season and off-season.

3. The subject of liquor sales came up during a recentcity planning discussion. Proponents of legalized liquor sales citethe benefits of increased sales tax collections while opponentsworry about negative social consequences. What is your position onthe issue? If opposed, what suggestions do you have to find newsales tax revenue for the city?

Bates: The sale of liquor is a topic thatshould be voted upon by all citizens of Brookhaven. It is not adecision that the board need to make by themselves.

Byrd: Negative social consequences do not stemfrom only the consumption of alcohol. In the city of Brookhaven weare faced daily with teen pregnancy, drug addiction, sex offenders,high school drop outs and a lot more negative elements that shouldtake presidents over the sale of liquor. As alderman I vow toeducate in my everyday walk the importance of caring and supportingthe people around you. If we as a city would care for one another,promote and encourage local business expansions to provide aservice to this community’s growth and development, tax revenuewill stay in our communities.

4. Brookhaven has an acute shortage of assisted livingfacilities. What is your vision for creating and furtheringdevelopment of assisted living facilities in Brookhaven? How do youplan to accomplish this goal?

Bates: If the board and the city has the optionto vote for another facility I will support it.

Byrd: The acute shortage of assisted livingfaculties in the Brookhaven area should be addressed before itbecomes critical. I counted at least six churches in Ward 2. Whatif each ward in Brookhaven had at least three churches in they’reward? What would happen if each ward would adopt 2 persons a yearwho required assisted living? My goal as alderman is to proposethis question to each church, organization and person to challengethem to envision and build a community of assisted living where aperson or persons can continue to be productive despite theircondition. Money it not always the answer to the problems butcommitment and dedication can solve problems.

5. Should aldermen be allowed to vote on their own payraises and have them take effect immediately, or should pay raisesbe made effective at the beginning of the next term?

Bates: The statue of law is set up that thealdermen or alderwoman can vote yes or no to receive a payraise.

Byrd: I have many years in the work force and Ihave never been allowed to give myself a raise. I do not think aperson should be allowed this advantage simply because they are notself-employed.

An elected official has obligations and duties to serve thepeople who elected them to perform the duties set before them.Every job has a supervisor or boss who should be allowed toevaluate and conduct a performance review on their employers thatwill determine what rate of pay you receive. As your alderman, I amemployed by you to serve you so therefore who better to determinewhether I deserve a raise or not than you?

6. Open meetings and public records laws are designed toensure that the public’s business is conducted in public, but thereare some topics in which a board may go into executive session todiscuss. How frequently – if at all – should the city board closetheir meetings?

Bates: The board should be allowed to go intoexecutive session when matters concerning employees are personal ormatters of litigation.

Byrd: As your alderman I would encourageattendance to every board meeting. I would insist minutes be takenfor those who could not attend and support and represent those whowill not attend.

The topics that require the board to go into an executivesession should be respected in the same manner as an open meeting.Minutes should be taken and the public should be allowed in aclosed meeting under conditions. These conditions will be outlinefor those in attendance. As we all know it is sometime better toleave a door closed than to open it and let the oxygen cause thefire to erupt and destroy a contained structure.

I realize no two people think alike but as your alderman I hopeyou would trust me to represent you as a whole. I would insist,demand, and require evidence, which would affect all of us as awhole whether is be beneficial or non-beneficial. I will alwaysinsist on equality for all of us.