Interview With Bill Griffin

Will he be the new Mayor???

Welcome to Shoals Insider’s exclusive Q&A session with Bill Griffin, a dedicated individual who will be running for the esteemed position of mayor in beautiful Florence, Alabama. We asked Mr. Griffin the important questions to shed light on his plans for a brighter future. Without further ado, let’s dive into this conversation and get to know the person behind the campaign.

Question: Can you please introduce yourself to help us get an understanding about who you are personally?

Answer: I am a retired middle school principal, and before that, I spent the majority of my career as a kindergarten teacher. Retirement had been calling my name for years, and I finally answered in 2010. However, I didn’t stop working altogether. In addition to my time in education, I also served as a youth minister for over 20 years. I was a late bloomer. I did start college until I was 25. But, once I got rolling I received degrees from Georgia, UAB, UNA, and the University of Alabama.

Since retirement, I’ve kept busy with a variety of pursuits. One of my passions is writing, and I’ve published nine books on various topics including self-help, education, and bullying. My most recent book is called The Three Little Pigs, A Real Estate Story. It’s geared towards young individuals who will be entering the housing market soon and teaches the ins and outs of real estate in a fun and approachable way. 

When I’m not writing or spending time with my family, my wife Janet and I work as REALTORS with RE/MAX in our local area. We enjoy helping people find their dream homes and navigate the complexities of the real estate world. 

In addition to our professional pursuits, I’ve served my community in numerous other ways. For eight years after retirement, I served on the Florence City School board and was recently elected to the Florence city council in 2020. 

But of all of my accomplishments and experiences, nothing brings me more joy than spending time with my five wonderful grandchildren. They are the lights of my life, and my wife and I adore them beyond measure.

Question: What are your personal key values?

Answer: As a former school principal, adaptability was a virtue I proudly possessed. Each day brought new challenges and it was important for me to be flexible while also standing firm when needed. Serving the public meant that no two days were ever the same. One had to be ready to face the unexpected and adapt accordingly.

Adaptability was key to maintaining the trust and respect of the students, parents, and staff. It allowed me to navigate through various situations while keeping the overall goals and values of the school in mind. Whether it was adjusting schedules, accommodating special needs, or implementing new initiatives, being able to adapt was essential for success.

I believed that adaptability was more than just being open to change. It required me to find creative solutions, think outside the box, and make quick decisions when necessary. It meant being nimble, able to adjust plans on the go without losing sight of the bigger picture.

There were times when I had to find a balance between being adaptable and holding my ground. It was important to know when to be firm and stick to policies or principles, ensuring that the integrity of the institution was upheld. But I also recognized that flexibility was needed to address individual circumstances and provide support when needed.

In the world of public service, adaptability was not just a desirable trait, but a necessary one. It was the ability to weather storms, to go with the flow, and to find strength in moments of uncertainty. To bend without breaking, and to come back stronger for it.

So, with adaptability as my shield, I faced the ever-changing landscape of education. And as I return each day with the respect and trust of the citizens, I carry with me the realization that adaptability is not just a virtue, but an invaluable tool in serving others.

Question: What initially sparked your interest in the field or area that you are currently involved in?

Answer: I am proud to be known as a problem solver, always ready to tackle any challenge that comes my way. My skills were honed during my time as a leader in the public educational sector, where I served for many years. Two terms on the Florence School Board allowed me to make a difference in the lives of our city’s students.

But there came a moment when I realized that my problem-solving skills could be put to use on a larger scale. I felt a calling to take on new responsibilities and bring my expertise to the Florence City Council. It was time to step up and address the challenges that our beloved city faced.

As I assumed my role on the city council, I quickly recognized the numerous issues that small cities in the South were encountering. From infrastructure and economic development to education and community engagement, there were countless areas that required attention and innovative solutions. And I was determined to be the one to provide those solutions.

My years of experience had taught me to see beyond the obvious and dig deep into the root causes of problems. I understood that challenges are not simply obstacles to overcome, but opportunities to make our city better. With a clearer understanding of the issues at hand, I became even more motivated and passionate about making a tangible difference in Florence.

Every day since then, I have been ready and willing to accept the challenges that I perceive Florence is facing. Whether it’s marshaling support for vital infrastructure projects or advocating for educational reforms, I bring my problem-solving skills to the table, ready to find effective solutions. I believe that Florence deserves a leader who not only acknowledges the challenges, but actively works towards their resolution.

And as I navigate through the complexities of public service, I draw strength from the community I serve. The residents of Florence inspire me with their unwavering spirit and their shared belief in building a brighter future for our city. Together, we will overcome any hurdle that comes our way.

I am excited for the journey ahead, as I continue to dedicate myself to the betterment of Florence. Armed with my problem-solving skills and the support of the community, I am confident that we can overcome any challenge and create a city we can all be proud of.

Question: Can you share a memorable experience or achievement from your journey that you are particularly proud of?

Answer: One of my most proud achievements is the reintroduction of district 3 to all citizens. I’ve been working hard to produce several videos that have been very successful on social media networks and have helped to draw attention to our special district. Recently, I’ve been working with the merchants of the Sweetwater district on a number of events that have been incredibly successful in drawing people out and getting them involved in our community.

Over the past few months, we’ve had a couple of outdoor Saturday adventures that have drawn hundreds of people out to see what we have to offer. We’ve had over 30 vendors set up shop, which has been a huge success and has helped us to reintroduce ourselves to the rest of Florence.

Looking ahead, we’re planning on hosting an outdoor concert with a local band, The Midnighters, in October of 2023. I truly believe this type of approach will be beneficial throughout the city, as we work to highlight the special assets that Florence has to offer.

Overall, I’m really excited about the progress we’ve made in district 3, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds. I feel proud of the fact that I’ve been able to play a significant role in helping to reintroduce this area to our citizens and I’m excited to continue working on similar projects throughout our city. This same blueprint will be applied to the entire city when I’m mayor.

Question: How would you describe your passion or motivation for the work you do?

Answer: In my opinion, there are two distinct types of teachers – the ones who are made in college and the ones who are called. The same principle can be applied to municipal leadership as well. And I believe, with all my heart, that I have been called to serve.

For years, I thought that calling was solely for my work in youth ministry. It was a purpose I expected and embraced with my all. I poured my heart and soul into it, guiding and supporting the young minds who crossed my path. But then, in my mid-twenties, I made a decision to enroll in college.

It was during my time in college that I realized I had been called to serve not just in youth ministry but also to make a difference in the lives of children in our community. The moment I set foot in those classrooms, something within me clicked. I felt an overwhelming sense of purpose, knowing deep down that this was where I needed to be.

Being a teacher provides me with a unique opportunity to bring fulfillment into my life by helping to change the entire trajectory of a young person’s life. It is a commitment, a dedication that goes beyond the classroom walls. To be accepted and trusted by those I serve is a privilege that I hold dear.

There are few experiences that compare to witnessing the growth and development of a child under your care. To see them blossom academically, emotionally, and socially is a reward like no other. As a teacher, I have the chance to instill knowledge, inspire curiosity, and ignite a passion for learning within my students.

But it goes beyond academics. I believe that as a teacher, I can make a profound impact on the lives of these young individuals. I can be a mentor, a role model, and a source of support. By nurturing their self-esteem, teaching them resilience and empathy, I have the power to shape their futures for the better.

My calling to serve as a teacher is unwavering. It is a lifelong commitment, a purpose that fuels my every action. Whether in the classroom or within the community, I strive to make a difference, to leave a lasting mark on the hearts and minds of those I encounter.

There may be different paths to becoming a teacher – whether through formal education or a calling from within – but the end goal remains the same: to make a positive impact. And for me, that is the greatest fulfillment one can find – knowing that I have the opportunity to change lives and be a guiding force for our community.

Question: What do you enjoy most about being involved in your community?

Answer: Being involved in municipal leadership has its fair share of challenges, but one of the greatest rewards comes from helping people overcome seemingly insurmountable issues. I often find myself faced with individuals who have exhausted all avenues, tirelessly seeking a solution to their problem. They would talk, plead, and sometimes even resort to threats, desperate for someone to hear their plea. As a city councilman, I empathize with their frustration and try my best to assist.

However, I must always make it clear that I don’t possess the direct authority to resolve most of these issues. But what I can do is shine a spotlight on the matter, reminding those with the power and responsibility to take action. It’s amazing to see how a little bit of awareness can push the wheels of bureaucracy quicker towards a resolution. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge to remind those in charge of their obligations.

Unfortunately, there are times when I have to be honest and admit that certain situations may not change. It is what it is, as they say. Delivering this news is never easy, as people don’t enjoy hearing that their struggles may persist. However, what they do appreciate is the intervention, the effort made on their behalf, going the extra mile to shed light on their troubles.

In the end, being involved in municipal leadership means standing as a bridge between the people and those in power. It means advocating for the concerns of the community, even though I may not possess the ultimate authority to resolve them. But by using my role to shine a light on such matters,

I can make a difference, even if it’s just by providing reassurance or opening doors for further dialogue and action. And that, in itself, is a valuable contribution to the lives of those I serve.

Question: How do you believe your work or contributions have made a difference in the lives of others?

Answer: In my district, the Sweetwater Days have proven to be a remarkable opportunity for local businesses to thrive. As a realtor, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness the positive impact it has had on the community. Alongside this, my association with the Salvation Army in the area has truly been a blessing, providing much-needed support to individuals in need.

Janet and I have actively participated in the Angel Tree project for several years. It’s been a heartwarming experience to witness the joy on the faces of children as they receive their holiday gifts. Additionally, our group of dedicated realtors has come together to donate over 400 pillows to the homeless. These small comforts can make a significant difference in their lives.

However, there is one project that I haven’t been able to see through as of yet. It revolves around the placement of portable toilets in a parking deck often frequented by homeless individuals. It has come to our attention that some of these individuals have been using the deck as a makeshift restroom when the need arises. It breaks my heart to think that while we offer them food and shelter, they lack a basic necessity such as a proper place to use the facilities.

My hope is that we can work together to find a solution to this issue. It is essential that we address all aspects of homelessness, and providing access to sanitation facilities is crucial for the well-being and dignity of these individuals. I am determined to see this project through and make a meaningful impact on the lives of the homeless in our community. Together, with the support of local organizations and authorities, I believe we can make a difference and ensure that everyone has access to basic necessities, including a dignified place to answer nature’s call.

Question: Can you share any lessons or insights you have gained from your experiences that have shaped your approach or perspective?

Answer: Throughout my nearly 20 years of being an educational leader, my perspective on today’s society has been shaped in profound ways. One key aspect that has stood out to me is the lack of willingness to compromise when faced with opposition. It seems that people, from national leaders to everyday individuals, struggle to find common ground and make concessions.

In order to be a strong leader, I firmly believe that one must possess the ability to open the door to negotiation. It is essential to understand when and how to initiate this process. It’s not about rigidly holding onto personal convictions, but rather finding a middle ground where everyone involved can feel heard and valued.

During my time as an educational leader, I learned the importance of taking responsibility and offering an apology when necessary. Saying, “I’m sorry this happened, how can we work together to make this situation better and solve this problem?” can be a powerful starting point for resolving conflicts.

What surprised me the most was how even the most combative stakeholders were, deep down, willing to revisit their stance and reconsider the situation. By extending an olive branch and showing a genuine desire to find a solution together, tensions often eased, and progress could be made.

Compromise is not equivalent to surrendering one’s beliefs; rather, it is a display of strength and commitment to finding a way forward. It requires empathy, active listening, and a willingness to explore alternative perspectives.

As I reflect on my experience, I can see the impact of compromise on shaping a more harmonious society. It allows for growth, understanding, and ultimately, cooperation. By embracing compromise, we can build bridges where there were once divides and foster an environment where progress is possible.

In today’s society, with its myriad of complex challenges, the ability to compromise has become increasingly crucial. As a leader, I am committed to encouraging this mindset and demonstrating how it can lead to positive transformation. Together, we can create a future where compromise is not seen as a weakness, but as a strength that drives us towards a better world.

Question: How do you stay connected and engaged with your community or industry to continue making a positive impact?

Answer: Staying connected to stakeholders is a vital part of my role. As a representative serving a specific district, I understand the importance of building strong relationships and ensuring that people know who I am and how to reach me. That’s why, at every council meeting, I make it a point to remind everyone of my name, the district I serve, and most importantly, my phone number.

I believe that accessibility and open communication are key in serving the needs of the community. Hosting a yearly district meeting allows for face-to-face interactions and a chance to discuss any concerns or ideas. However, I make sure to emphasize that they don’t need to wait until then to get in touch with me.

Encouraging people to call me as soon as they need assistance or have questions establishes a sense of trust and reliability. It shows that I’m ready and willing to address their concerns promptly. I understand that issues can arise at any time, and being available to lend a helping hand is a crucial part of my role as a representative.

Whether it’s discussing neighborhood improvements, addressing city-wide matters, or providing guidance on local policies, I’m here to assist. It’s my duty to ensure that the district’s voice is heard, and staying connected with stakeholders is one of the most effective ways to achieve that.

So, if you’re ever in need of support or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. My phone line is always open, and I’m here to serve the district to the best of my abilities. Together, we can make our community even stronger. 256-366-0864

Question: Can you provide a brief overview of your background and experience as a council member?

Answer: As a councilman, my journey has been a constant learning process. Having previously served as an educational leader and on the local school board, I found great pleasure in working towards the betterment of students’ lives. It felt like every action we took was in their best interest. However, transitioning into the role of a councilman exposed me to a different reality.

My first year in office left me feeling disheartened and discouraged by how things played out. It seemed that decisions were often driven by factors other than the needs and concerns of the citizens. This realization fueled my determination to make a greater impact on the community, which is why I decided to run for mayor.

As a mayor, I hold the belief that my primary responsibility is to listen to the voices of the citizens and act accordingly. With such a diverse population, it is inevitable that for every situation, there are a multitude of potential solutions. It becomes clear that my role as a listener doesn’t guarantee that my own suggestions will always be the ultimate solution.

Nonetheless, I am committed to ensuring that each citizen’s perspective is heard. It may not always align with my own views or ideas, but it will never be said that I didn’t afford them the opportunity to be heard. True leadership involves understanding the varied needs and perspectives of the community and making decisions that reflect the greater good.

In my new role as mayor, I am determined to foster a culture of transparency, accountability, and active citizenship. By actively listening to the thoughts and concerns of the citizens, we can collectively work towards building a stronger, more inclusive community. It is through this collaborative approach that I hope to bring about positive change for the benefit of all.

Question: How has your experience as a councilmember prepared you for the potential role of mayor?

Answer: As a councilman, my journey has been a constant learning process. Having previously served as an educational leader and on the local school board, I found great pleasure in working towards the betterment of students’ lives. It felt like every action we took was in their best interest. However, transitioning into the role of a councilman exposed me to a different reality.

My first year in office left me feeling disheartened and discouraged by how things played out. It seemed that decisions were often driven by factors other than the needs and concerns of the citizens. This realization fueled my determination to make a greater impact on the community, which is why I decided to run for mayor.

As a mayor, I hold the belief that my primary responsibility is to listen to the voices of the citizens and act accordingly. With such a diverse population, it is inevitable that for every situation, there are a multitude of potential solutions. It becomes clear that my role as a listener doesn’t guarantee that my own suggestions will always be the ultimate solution.

Nonetheless, I am committed to ensuring that each citizen’s perspective is heard. It may not always align with my own views or ideas, but it will never be said that I didn’t afford them the opportunity to be heard. True leadership involves understanding the varied needs and perspectives of the community and making decisions that reflect the greater good.

In my new role as mayor, I am determined to foster a culture of transparency, accountability, and active citizenship. By actively listening to the thoughts and concerns of the citizens, we can collectively work towards building a stronger, more inclusive community. It is through this collaborative approach that I hope to bring about positive change for the benefit of all.

Question: What specific qualities or skills do you possess that you believe make you a strong candidate for the position of mayor?

Answer: Throughout my life, I have cultivated qualities that have prepared me to serve as mayor. One of my greatest strengths is my ability to think outside the box. While I can certainly see the obvious solution, I understand that more often than not, the obvious has already been attempted and proven ineffective. This is where I truly shine.

I find myself constantly looking at situations from the outside, peering inward to unravel the complexities that lie within. I always ask myself, “Why?” “How?” and “Why not?” These questions propel me to explore uncharted territory, always seeking innovative and effective solutions. Sometimes, my brainstorming sessions turn into a tornado of ideas, and that’s when I rely on others to bring me back to reality. I genuinely value collaboration and believe in the power of a team to tackle challenges head-on.

Integrity is a cornerstone of my essence, an essential trait that I hold dear. It encompasses qualities such as honesty, trustworthiness, and consistency. Integrity guides me in every decision I make, ensuring that I uphold the highest standards of ethics and morality. I strive to embody these principles each and every day, knowing that my actions have a profound impact on the community I serve.

As I reflect on my journey, I recognize that these qualities have shaped me into the individual ready to lead as mayor. Thinking outside the box, valuing teamwork, and embracing integrity, I stand prepared to tackle the complex issues our city faces. With a commitment to finding creative solutions and upholding the trust placed in me, I am confident in my ability to serve as a compassionate and effective leader for our community.

Question: What are the key issues or challenges facing our city that you have been actively working on as a council member?

Answer: As an active member of our community, I can’t help but notice some key issues that we face on a daily basis. One of the major concerns is our lack of cohesion and teamwork. Far too often, I hear the phrase, “that’s not our department,” echoing through the halls of various organizations. While it’s true that departments occasionally collaborate on projects, there remains a significant amount of territoriality that needs to be addressed.

What we need is a collective mindset, where we all work towards a common goal, regardless of our designated roles. It’s disheartening to witness the barriers that prevent us from operating efficiently as a team. We should be supporting one another, combining our skills and expertise to overcome challenges together.

Another issue that requires attention is the disproportionate funding among different districts within our city. The residents of districts 1 and 3 often feel neglected and overlooked. It’s time for us to acknowledge their concerns and allocate resources more fairly. We must ensure that every neighborhood receives its fair share of funding for essential services and improvements.

I believe it is crucial for our city to take a proactive approach in addressing these issues. It’s not enough to simply acknowledge the problems; we must actively work towards finding solutions. We can learn from other cities that have successfully implemented equal funding across their districts. It’s time to demonstrate tangible results and show our community that we are committed to making positive changes.

In the end, it all comes down to accountability. Our community has been patiently waiting for action. The phrase, “show us the beef,” has been on the lips of many, expressing a justified demand for substantial progress. Let’s come together, address our territorial tendencies, and work towards a more equitable and unified community. Only then can we truly thrive and create an environment where every voice is heard and valued.

Question: How do you plan to engage and involve the community in decision-making processes as mayor?

Answer: As I reflect on the challenges laid before me, I ponder on the ways I can address them head-on. It’s clear that communication and collaboration will be key in tackling these obstacles. To start, I will reach out to the department leaders, seeking their valuable insight on their respective short-term and intermediate goals. This will provide me with a holistic understanding of the bigger picture and help align my team’s efforts accordingly.

In addition to understanding their goals, I will also delve deeper into their immediate needs. Resources play a vital role in achieving any objective, and knowing how these resources directly impact their goals will enable me to allocate them more effectively. While it’s no surprise that every department could benefit from more financial support, I am fortunate to have a creative Chief Financial and Strategy Officer (CFSO) on our team.

Our CFSO has a knack for seeking financing options that may not be readily available. Grants, in particular, hold immense potential as they provide us with the much-needed financial boost without hampering our resources further. I am personally drawn to the allure of grants – free money that can help propel our initiatives forward.

To leverage our city’s resources, I am looking into implementing a reward system to accompany grants that are written and funded within our very own community. By incentivizing and acknowledging the hard work and successful securing of grants, we will not only foster a culture of collaboration but also encourage a proactive approach towards seeking external funding. This reward system will serve as both a motivation and a result of our collective efforts, further strengthening our commitment to the growth and development of our city.

As I embark on this endeavor, I am filled with a sense of excitement and determination. Addressing these challenges may not be easy, but with effective communication, resource allocation, and the allure of grants, I am confident that we can overcome them. Together, we will create a thriving community where goals are met, and success is celebrated.

Question: How do you plan to address the current economic challenges facing our city?

Answer: As I sit here, contemplating our economic situation, it becomes evident that the road ahead is filled with challenges. The success of a community is often determined by the industries that choose to expand within its boundaries. But what exactly is it that these industries seek? It’s not just about the brightest minds or the most skilled individuals; it’s about the workforce as a whole.

A workforce is more than just a group of people who show up to work each day. It’s a collective of individuals who possess the ability to walk into an industry and understand what is expected of them. It’s about having that teachable spirit, being open to learning and adapting to new environments and demands. That is what industries truly value.

If I were a company owner contemplating expansion, I would take the time to read the Facebook posts of the average citizens in a potential community. Surprising as it may sound, those posts hold a greater significance than one might think. It is through these posts that the true culture of a community surfaces, exposing the attitudes and perspectives that exist.

Negativity, or what some might refer to as being a “Negative Nancy,” can be detrimental to the growth of a community. It is this negativity that has the power to turn away potential investors, driving them towards more positive and promising environments. We need to ask ourselves if we, as members of our local society, are unintentionally deterring these investors with our own negative outlooks.

Looking inward is crucial in moments like this. We must take a moment to reflect, to evaluate how our own attitudes, actions, and words contribute to the overall narrative of our community. We have the power to shape our future by fostering a positive environment, one that welcomes new ventures and inspires confidence in potential investors.

Let us choose to be the change we wish to see, embracing positivity and optimism with open arms. By doing so, we can redefine our community’s narrative and create an atmosphere that attracts, rather than repels, those who hold the keys to our economic growth. Together, we can take charge of our destiny and ensure a brighter future for all.

Question: What steps will you take to improve infrastructure and transportation in our city?

Answer: As a citizen of our city, I firmly believe that we must prioritize the infrastructure that supports us. It’s not the most glamorous topic, but it affects our daily lives in profound ways. I’m talking about our plumbing systems, our roads, and our water systems. These are the veins and arteries that keep our city functioning.

Often, we only pay attention to our roads when they become nearly impassable. It’s when potholes rattle our cars and shake us to our very core that we suddenly realize their importance. But shouldn’t we be more proactive? Shouldn’t we be investing in our infrastructure not just when it’s on the verge of collapse, but as an ongoing effort?

Just like any industry, our infrastructure should be an integral part of our long and short term goals. We can’t simply rely on patching up what breaks; we need to take a step back and consider if there’s a better solution. Our city has miles of clay pipes buried beneath its streets, for example. Instead of fixing them only when they burst, maybe we should explore if there are more sustainable alternatives.

Investing in our infrastructure is an investment in our future. It’s an investment in the quality of life for ourselves and future generations. It may not be the most exciting topic of conversation, but it’s a critical one.

So let’s come together as a community and demand that our city leaders prioritize our infrastructure. Let’s push for innovation and forward-thinking solutions. By doing so, we can ensure that our city remains not just functional, but thriving. Our infrastructure shouldn’t be an afterthought; it should be a top priority.

Question:How do you plan to address the issue of affordable housing in our community?

Answer: Affordable housing has become quite the buzz word in our country lately. During a recent trip to Washington, I had the opportunity to attend two workshops on the topic. I was hopeful to gain some valuable insights and solutions, but unfortunately, I left feeling quite unfulfilled.

Throughout both workshops, I sat attentively, eager to hear ideas that would make a real difference. Of all the suggestions presented, the one that was pushed the most was the concept of providing vouchers to those experiencing hardships. The idea was that these individuals could simply present these vouchers and be able to move into housing right beside you and me. On the surface, it may seem like a great idea – helping those in need find stable housing. However, it left me with one question lingering in my mind: who pays for these vouchers?

You and I, as hardworking, employed individuals, are the ones who bear the burden of funding these vouchers. We dutifully pay our taxes, which in turn contribute to the pool of resources used to provide these vouchers. While I understand the importance of helping those who are facing difficulties, it does not sit well with me that this assistance is given out freely, without any consideration for the hard work and sacrifices we make to build a better life for ourselves.

Instead, I am passionate about finding a solution that not only provides affordable housing but also empowers individuals to improve their own circumstances. My desire is to collaborate with the educational system to ensure that as many people as possible have access to learning valuable crafts and skills that are in high demand. By equipping individuals with the necessary skills for success, we can create a workforce that is capable of filling the gaps in our economy. As more

people gain these skills, they become self-sufficient, able to afford housing without having to rely solely on vouchers.

Affordable housing is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. While temporary assistance may be needed in some cases, it is crucial that we prioritize long-term solutions. By investing in education and empowering individuals to gain valuable skills, we can create a society where affordable housing is a reality for everyone, while also fostering a sense of pride and self-sufficiency. It is my belief that through collaborative efforts, we can bring about meaningful change and ensure a brighter future for all.

Question: What is your stance on environmental sustainability and how will you promote it as mayor?

Answer: As a concerned citizen, I have always been passionate about the environment. It is disheartening to see the extent to which humans have damaged our planet, and the impact this has had on the wildlife that calls it home. While many people may feel helpless in the face of this daunting issue, I firmly believe that education is the key to promoting environmental sustainability.

Here in Florence, we have made great strides in this area. Our city is involved in one of the state’s most dependable recycling programs, and we are the only city in the Shoals area to provide curbside pickup. These initiatives have already made a significant difference in reducing the amount of waste that ends up in our landfills.

But we can’t stop there. That’s why I’m excited about Florence’s upcoming Tennessee River Litter Tournament. This tournament, which rewards teams for collecting litter along the river as if they were in a fishing tournament, is just one example of the innovative and out-of-the-box ideas that will help us continue to move towards environmental stability.

Through education and initiatives like these, I believe we can make a real difference. By working together and sharing our knowledge of sustainable practices, we can ensure that our planet remains a healthy and vibrant place for generations to come.

Question:How do you plan to foster a sense of community and promote inclusivity in our city?

Answer: As a leader, it is vital to embrace inclusivity and step out of our comfort zones to truly understand the experiences of others. Instead of expecting everyone to come to the city hall, I believe in bringing the city government to the people. I have experienced the power of this approach firsthand during my time as a middle school principal.

Once a year, we hosted a city council meeting in our school’s auditorium. It was a chance for our students to witness the democratic process up close and personal. They had already learned about it in textbooks, but experiencing it in real life made a world of difference. It brought a sense of reality and relevance to their studies.

The wider public often perceives local leaders as being unapproachable or untouchable. They rarely see leaders as relatable individuals, just like themselves. That’s why it’s vital for me as a leader to be approachable, to be seen, and to be understood as just a regular, everyday person.

I believe in being “touchable” and “talkable.” I want the community to feel comfortable approaching me, sharing their concerns, and engaging in dialogue. I want them to see that I am here to listen and that their voices matter. Only by actively engaging with the people can we truly address their needs and aspirations.

Visibility is another essential aspect. It’s important for leaders to be seen and actively involved in the community. Attending local events, visiting neighborhoods, and participating in community projects help build trust and foster genuine connections. By being present, I hope to break down barriers and bridge the gap between myself and the community.

Finally, genuine understanding is key. I want to be seen as an average person, someone relatable and empathetic. I am not above anyone else – I am just a regular Ole guy. By embracing my own authenticity, I aspire to inspire others to be themselves and be confident in their abilities to create positive change.

In summary, inclusivity starts with actively taking steps to understand and connect with the community. It means bringing the government to the people and being approachable, visible, and relatable. As a leader, my commitment is to be touchable, talkable, seen, and understood as just a regular Ole guy, just as I am now. Only by forging these connections can we truly lead together towards a brighter future.

Question: What strategies will you implement to attract new businesses and create job opportunities?

Answer: As I pondered on the challenge of attracting new businesses to our city, I couldn’t help but feel a mixture of excitement and apprehension. It seemed like every city was vying for the same opportunity, each one striving to present something unique and enticing. So, I asked myself, what did we have to offer that other towns did not?

The answer, I firmly believed, lay in the quality of life we offered. Research supported my conviction, stating that when individuals and industries consider relocation, quality of life ranks among their top concerns. It wasn’t enough to just have job opportunities; we needed to provide a fulfilling experience beyond the office walls.

People work day in and day out, but what could they do here when they weren’t working? It was our duty to tell the story of our city, to showcase the vibrant activities, the abundant natural beauty, and the strong sense of community that defined Florence. Sure, the probability of someone stumbling across our city on a map and deciding to explore was slim, so we needed to take matters into our own hands.

With determination in my heart, I will set out to put together a comprehensive sales package. Armed with an understanding of what made Florence so special, I’ll be ready to hit the marketing circuit. My goal is to sell Florence to the world, to capture the attention of potential businesses and make them see the immense value we have to offer.

Now, if you know me, you know that I possess that innate ability to sell anything to anyone. My personality exudes enthusiasm and persuasion, making me the ideal ambassador for our beloved

city. I believe in Florence’s potential, and I am confident that with the right approach, we can attract the businesses we need to thrive.

So, as I set forth on this marketing journey, I carry with me the conviction that we have something extraordinary to offer. I will channel my energy into showcasing the unique qualities of Florence, painting a picture of a city brimming with opportunities, culture, and a remarkable quality of life. Together, let us sell Florence to the world and shape a prosperous future for our community.

Question: How will you address the issue of public safety and ensure the well-being of our residents?

Answer:  Safety, how do we walk in it? This question has been on my mind ever since I retired from my previous career. I took the time to write two books on the topic of bullying, as it is an issue that deeply concerns me. In my first book, the main character confesses that his power to bully comes from the bystanders who observe his actions but choose to remain silent. These individuals are just relieved that they have escaped his attention for the day.

The truth is, if and when all the bystanders finally cease their passive watching and unite as a force demanding action, the bully becomes powerless. This same concept seems to be mirrored in our wider society. Bullies have cunningly created a word that acts as a paralyzing effect on those who hear it – “snitch”. In reality, it’s not snitching; it’s simply doing the right thing.

As we find the courage to do the right thing and speak up against acts of bullying and injustice, we have the power to dismantle the hold that bullies have over us and certain parts of our society. Let us join forces and form a united team, working together to create a safer environment for all. It’s time to break free from the fear that keeps us silent and take action. Together, we can make a difference, one courageous step at a time.

Question: What is your plan to improve education and support our schools?

Answer: For as long as I can remember, education has been where my heart lies. I’ve spent several decades working within the walls of schools, watching generations of students come and go, eager to learn and grow. But when the COVID-19 era hit, it almost killed education as we knew it. The sudden shift to virtual learning was a difficult adjustment, but in many ways, it was a wake-up call that we needed.

For too long, we’ve been trying to teach kids the same way we were taught for decades. And while we like to pretend that we’ve been successful, the truth is, we haven’t always been. We’ve been stuck in our ways, afraid to try something new or different. But COVID forced us to change our approach, and in many ways, it helped us to break free from the box we’ve been living in.

I can’t speak for every school, but I’ve seen firsthand the positive changes that COVID has brought to education. Take Florence High School, for example. They’re doing incredible work, providing students with opportunities that go beyond traditional academia. Students who have a passion for the arts or welding, for instance, can get trained right in high school. And for those who plan to go to college, they have the opportunity to graduate with a high school diploma and a two-year degree. 

It’s this kind of out-of-the-box thinking that we need more of in education. We can’t keep teaching things just because we always have. We need to be innovative, creative, and open to new ideas. COVID may have thrown us a curveball, but it also gave us a chance to change for the better. And for that, I’m incredibly grateful.

Question: How will you involve citizens in decision-making processes and ensure transparency in your administration?

Answer: As a potential leader in our city, one of my key priorities is ensuring that citizens have a strong voice and active involvement in the decision-making process. You inquire about my plans to involve citizens, and I can confidently say that I have thoroughly considered this aspect.

First and foremost, I believe in open and accessible communication channels. I am committed to offering my phone number openly to all citizens, as a means for them to reach out and share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas directly with me. Transparency and approachability are essential in fostering a strong and connected community.

Furthermore, I am a firm believer in engaging with citizens at their preferred gathering places. Therefore, I plan to dedicate a morning each month to being present at various locations where citizens typically congregate. Whether it’s a local coffee shop, community center, or park, I want to be physically accessible and available for face-to-face conversations. This will provide an opportunity for citizens to express their views, offer suggestions, and share their priorities for our city.

Drawing from my experience as a school principal, I understand the importance of an advisory committee comprising citizens. I intend to establish such a committee that meets monthly, consisting of individuals who I have encountered during my community visits. Although the specific criteria for committee membership are yet to be defined, it will be essential to have a diverse range of voices representing various perspectives within our city.

It is worth mentioning that this advisory committee will not receive funding. It will be a voluntary effort, stemming from a genuine passion and love for our city. I strongly believe that when people come together motivated by a shared purpose, remarkable things can be achieved. Even those who may not entirely agree with my decisions will be welcomed to participate, as constructive dialogue and diverse viewpoints only strengthen our ability to make well-informed choices.

This collaborative approach was highly effective in the field of education, where we achieved remarkable outcomes for our students. By involving citizens, valuing their input, and embracing differing opinions, we can together make a difference for our city and its future.

So, rest assured, citizen involvement in the decision-making processes is a central pillar of my leadership approach. I am dedicated to fostering a sense of ownership and empowerment among all members of our community because it is through collective efforts that we will thrive and create a brighter future for our city.

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