By ZOË WATKINS - firstname.lastname@example.org
Election candidates running for the mayoral and aldermen positions in Wartrace and Normandy have similar hopes to clean up the small cities and increase communication between the municipality and its residents.
The Nov. 8 general election ballot includes the towns of Wartrace and Normandy, in addition to the Shelbyville Municipal election.
Normandy Mayor Charles Whitaker is running for his second term. With no opposition, he’s an automatic shoe-in.
And even though he had no earlier intentions of running again, Whitaker said he was willing to run again when no other candidate was able to campaign. Now, he looks forward to finishing many of the projects he started in his first term.
“The biggest thing, from my point of view, is to complete some of the things we’ve already started,” he said. “My main goals were to keep the momentum of things we were fixing to do and have gotten done and try to get some things finished.”
For example, the little hamlet town didn’t have a city hall until last year. Now, they are using what was known as the old “Schmiede Building,” which was renovated through the owner’s investment and a lot of volunteer work. Whitaker said they also wanted to make sure they could maintain their post office by extending their lease for another 5 years.
In his upcoming term, Whitaker said he would like to “correct” any problems with the audits and budget going through to the state. “Just making sure the budget goes through and that our financial information is turned in on a timely basis,” he said.
Whitaker said he also hopes to continue restoring and preserving Normandy. The “clean up” is an issue many residents in Normandy want addressed. “We have several things happening that we seem to have turned the corner on, like getting places that are derelict cleaned up,” he said.
Whitaker said the owners of the pavilion next to town hall, which was falling down, have agreed to a lease with the town and are doing ongoing repairs. “So, we have had what I consider some very substantial success in that area.”
But, he said, “We have a lack of codes and ordinances here and we have trouble with enforcement,” Whitaker added. “One of the biggest things here is the conditions of properties. People are worried about properties near them bringing down their own property.”
The other issue is also getting the streets repaved. “The preservation of the town is one thing, but we also have to preserve the infrastructure to be able to make the other happen,” he said.
Jerry Spivey is an alderman, who is going in as a write-in candidate. “When I spoke with residents of Normandy the biggest issue is the roads, which we applied for a grant to help if we get picked.”
A Normandy native whose family goes back three generations, Spivey said, in addition to cleaning up the city, he wants to “bring back the community in Normandy where we say hello to our neighbors and ask if you’re doing okay like we did when my mom lived here.”
He added, “Since I’ve been an alderman, we have brought in internet, had electrical put in the city park, and secured a town hall/civic center for the residents of Normandy.”
Lastly, he said, are the water issues in Wartrace, which are also affecting Normandy, as they’re both on the same water system.
Mayor Whitaker said, “There’s a whole lot of acrimony about the cost of water here and it’s getting louder. That’s something I’m certainly going to have to deal with.”
Also on the ballot for alderman is Valinda Seese, a stay-at-home mom who began getting involved in the community last spring. “Our community, I feel like, has gone downhill a lot in the last few years. I want to get in there and understand what’s going on.”
“Say I have a neighbor who doesn’t have running water, and they have kids. I think it’s the town’s duty to help provide certain resources to help these people,” said Seese.
Talking with residents about issues they see, Seese said, “There’s anything from speeding to children living in vehicles to drugs; children not having running water; aggressive dogs that roam the streets.”
She added, “It’s become more of people doing what they want to do and they’re able to get away with it because we do not have law enforcement.”
She admits tackling all this is a “big task,” but it does push her to become alderman where she can do more than as a civilian.
At the polls, Seese said she finds that most voters just “push the button.” But she said if elected to hopes to push people to care a little bit more. “With how every generation goes, I do think there needs to be younger people getting involved to freshen things up and give new ideas,” she said.
Whitaker said he doesn’t foresee this upcoming election having the same turnout as the last election where, out of the two candidates running for aldermen, one attracted 54 votes and the other 53. “When you consider that many votes out of a total pool of about 85 to 87 registered voters in the city limits, that is overwhelming,” he said.
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