One of the most important aspects of a community is leadership that makes sure the voices of its people are accurately represented. Whether it’s making headway in handling a crisis or simply making the environment feel more like home, the title of mayor is not a position to be taken lightly.
Current mayor and UM professor, Dr. Hollie Cost, has decided not to run for re-election, leaving two candidates on the ballot: Joyce Jones and Rusty Nix.
After two terms as mayor, Cost found the decision not to run for reelection very difficult.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work that our team has done for the city over the last eight years that I’ve served as mayor.”
Just a few of those accomplishments included building a new city hall, paving the streets in Montevallo in need of repair, installing a historic marker commemorating the lives lost due to lynching’s on Main Street.
Although Cost completed most of her goals as mayor, she has many more still ahead. For example, she and her team have adopted a comprehensive plan approving ADA plans for a local park, and submitted a grant to install sidewalks along Highway 25.
“I realized that just setting these wheels in motion was incredibly beneficial to the city and it would be appropriate to pass the baton on these projects to a new administration. I realized there are so many more goals I would like to accomplish and that there are many other pathways to accomplishing those that do not necessarily involve politics,” said Cost.
Although her time in office is coming to a close, her desire to help the city remains strong and has only shifted course.
Cost has chosen to support Jones in her bid for mayor.
“I believe she is absolutely the best candidate for the job. She has a record of service to Montevallo and the broader community through her employment at the University, her church involvement, school volunteering, and city boards. Joyce has a vision and passion for Montevallo that is unmatched.” Cost described Jones as incredibly intelligent, compassionate and having a huge heart for service.
She said that while she has worked and gotten along with candidate Nix as well in the past, they differ on many critical issues.
“As examples, he has opposed raises for our employees, the non- discrimination ordinance, our annual audit, mandating masks in the city, funding our junior city council, and the installation of the historic marker,” said Cost.
Both candidates did an interview with the Shelby County Reporter in which they described their values as well as what their main focus would be as mayor.
Candidate Nix stressed the importance of making Montevallo a safer environment by focusing on proper funding and training for public servants.
“The first step towards supporting our local public servants is to fully fund them in the upcoming new budget. This year’s police, fire and rescue budget was recently cut due to budget shortfalls due to COVID-19,” said Nix.
In addition, he hopes to see that two recently opened patrol officer positions are filled quickly as well as the installation of surveillance cameras in the city.
Candidate Jones emphasized her focus on inclusivity and equality. “I have a passion for helping people, so my goal is to make sure that we first understand the needs of all citizens. That is why I plan to continue building relationships between the community and the city leadership; this would include events like the community conversation event that was held in Scott’s Village a few weeks ago.”
She also hopes to see more events that include presentations from partners outside the community who have already created inclusive and equitable opportunities in other parts of the state and country.
“We are on the right path, but we need to continue to be intentional about seeking ways to make sure all communities have representation in our city government and leadership. We have to be honest enough to say that representation matters, and it is up to that leadership to make changes. It is going to be a long journey, but we must remain committed to seeing it through to the end.”
With the recent spike in corona virus cases, understanding how our community leaders will handle the general health and well-being of the public is another very important issue. When asked what precautions and/or procedures will be put in place to better handle this pandemic, Nix responded, “The city will need to continue to follow state guidelines in regards to procedures to curtail the spread of COVID-19.”
With small businesses across the nation being hard hit by the virus, there is the question of what can be done to help keep them afloat. Nix responded saying, “Due to the city’s current budget deficit, monetary assistance cannot be offered to our local businesses. The best way to help our local businesses during this difficult time is to promote and support. The Montevallo Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Program do a fantastic job of advertising and spotlighting these businesses through outreach on social media.”
When the question of what she planned to do to better handle the virus, Jones responded, “Thanks to the leadership of our current mayor, our city was already ahead of the state with a mask ordinance in place to help promote the best practice to slow progression of the virus. However, I would like to see more public sanitation stations throughout the city in local businesses.”
She acknowledged that the installation and upkeep of these stations would burden financial resources already at a critical state, but plans to look for more manageable options. Jones also wants to reconsider the reopening of schools and the return to extracurricular activities in the fall.
Her plan to help local business includes applying for financial help and resources through the state and outside entities to help offset the loss of revenue. “I think one of the best ways to help our local businesses is by helping them make the best use of all the resources that are already in place. We have a wonderful network within our city departments and the Chamber of Commerce who are more than willing to assist business owners with making sure they get the help they need. As mayor, I would make facilitating that process a priority.”
The election for mayor of Montevallo will take place on Aug. 25.
*Updated 08/22/2020 at 7:16 p.m. to remove a word that unintentionally implied bias regarding current mayor Hollie Cost’ s term as mayor.
Bri Balasky is a writer for The Alabamian. They are a second year biology major with a love for animals, caffeinated beverages and tattoos.