Paul Osborne's
Candidates For Mayor, 
City Council Must File Nominating Petitions
By Nov. 24th At 5:00 P.M.

This is the week that separates those who are thinking about running for mayor or city council -- from those who are actually willing to put their name on the ballot.
Nominating petitions must be filed by candidates running for mayor and three city council seats by 5:00 p.m. Monday, Nov. 24th.
Filing started Mon-day (Nov. 17) at 8:00 a.m. and three candidates were there to file for the mayor’s postion -- Mayor Mike McElroy (seeking re-election), Councilman Patrick McDaniel and Dustin Chapman.  Since more than one candidate was present at 8:00, regardless of the order their petitions were accepted, they will be considered as filing at 8:00 and a lottery will be held to select the order their names will be placed on the ballot. 
City council candidates who also filed at 8:00 were Derrick Thaxton and Lisa Gregory.  A lottery will also determine which of the two names will appear first on the ballot.  
Also filing for city council Monday were David Horn and incumbent Dana Ray.   Bill Faber has announced that he will be holding a news conference today (Wednesday) to throw his hat into the city council race. Anyone else filing in either race before the deadline will be placed on the ballot in the order of when their petition is filed.

AN EDGE? Is it important to have your name first on the ballot, or near the top of the names on the ballot?
It probably depends on the number of candidates who file.
It also depends on what kind of name recognition you have.  If people don’t know you, it might give you a few extra votes, but, with a limited number of candidates in this race, I don’t think it makes much difference.

MY EXPERIENCE: The first time I ran for mayor I filed at 8:00 a.m. on the first day the city clerk was receiving petitions and my three opponents also filed at the same time.
I was present for the lottery a few days later to see who would be the first name on the ballot.
It wasn’t me. I was the second name chosen in the lottery.
Back at that time, if more than two candidates filed for mayor, a primary election was necessary.
Today, there has to be five or more candidates for mayor and/or 13 or more candidates running for city council before there will be a primary. 
Even though my name wasn’t at the top of the primary ballot, I was fortunate to finish first in that election with a high percentage of the vote, so I don’t think it made much difference -- at least in that race.
In fact, the candidate who won the first position on the ballot, lost in the primary.

CONNECTION: By the way, one of the three candidates who ran against me who didn’t win in the mayoral primary was Patrick McDaniel, who would later be elected to the city council, where he presently serves.  Twelve years later, he is again a candidate for mayor.
After losing in 2003, McDaniel worked on my campaign and later worked as a reporter for me at this newspaper -- covering the city council during the years that I was mayor.
Also, in that 2003 election, present Mayor Mike McElroy was elected to his first term as city councilman.  The two of us were the new faces on the council and four years later were re-elected to second terms in our respective positions.
When I left office, McElroy was elected mayor in the next election in 2009 and has served in that position since that time.

SUSPICIOUS: Saturday morning Decatur police officers responded to a citizen’s report of a suspicious package on the Sands Viaduct.  According to the police report, officers located a back pack placed near the east wall and observed the contents were suspicious in nature.
That happened at 8:52 a.m. and the viaduct was immediately closed and the Secretary of State Bomb Squad was notified.
The bomb squad arrived at 11:15 a.m. and began an investigation.  After x-raying the contents, the bomb technicians determined that the contents were not hazardous and the viaduct was reopened at 12:30 p.m.
Interim Chief Chervinko expressed thanks to the citizens for their patience in this matter as well as the SOS Bomb Squad for their expertise and assistance.
Chervinko said, “The officers acted quickly and professionally while following proper procedures and protocols.  The safety of our citizens remains our number one concern.”

LESS IS BETTER:  The city's noise ordinance was amended by the city council Monday to provide warning to drivers and vehicle owners alleged to be in violation prior to city penalties being assessed.
The story can be found elsewhere on this website.  As I’ve mentioned before in this column, the noise ordinance was approved by the city council during my time as mayor.
While I still believe the noise ordinance is a sound idea, I don’t believe that towing a person’s car and on the first offense, is a proper punishment.
The city council, in agreement  with citizens’ input, adjusted the punishment for the first offense to essentially a warning with the stiffer penalities coming on a second offense.
That seems to me to be a reasonable adjustment.


Transforming Downtown Area
Franklin St. Project Shows Early Signs Of Attractive Streetscape

To say that the City of Decatur’s Downtown Streetscape project has been “inconvenient” for many is an understatement. 
Although efforts have been made to make the construction work less intrusive, the work on the streets and sidewalks have caused about everyone to make some adjustments the past few years. 
The work is now being done on the stretch of Franklin Street, from Wood to Eldorado.
Some citizens are apparently upset with what they see in this project and a few of them have emailed me, or stopped me on the street, to tell me how horrible it looks!
Of course, it looks horrible -- its in the construction phase, not the finished project.
One man stopped me on the street and pointed to different parts of the project that he said looked “awful” and wanted to know why the City of Decatur would hire a contractor who would do such a terrible job.
When I pointed out the areas of the project he thought looked awful were yet to have any work done on them -- he fumbled for words and then told me they wouldn’t look any better when they were finished.
I don’t think that person would be pleased with much of anything.

• Visualize -- While the convenience of my normal routine has been altered because of the construction, I have no doubt the finished project will be one that will add to the beauty of the downtown area.
I have no problem visualizing the finished project and what we are now seeing on the Franklin Street streetscape shouldn’t be judged as how it is going to look until it is completed.
To show how much green will be along Franklin Street, the City of Decatur has provided me with some renderings of the planting plan for  Franklin St. 
All but one of the pages, which are printed on pages 16 and 17 in the print edition of the Decatur Tribune show the landscaping plan from Wood Street to within a half block of Eldorado. They show what we can expect in terms of grass, trees, sidewalks, curbs and a few brick fill-ins along the way.
If you want to get real creative, you can cut out each page and paste them together for the whole picture of Franklin in one document. 
Updating and enhancing downtown will pay big dividends, not only for those of us who run our businesses from the downtown area, but in projecting the image of a community that cares about its appearance.
That’s especially attractive to company owners and managers who take a closer look at our community in deciding whether to expand or locate their business here.
Believe me, I know what potential business leaders look for in a community because I gave several of them tours of the city when I was mayor.
All of our positives, which are often unrecognized by some who live here, play into corporate decisions on where to locate jobs.
“Quality of Place” and “Quality of Life” are extremely important.

• Biggest Complaint? -- I think the only part of the overall Downtown Streetscape project that I am less than enthusiastic about, is the angle parking on Main Street.  While I understand the need to create more parking spaces, I won’t park there because of the difficulty of backing out of the space into oncoming traffic. 
Also, when I drive down Main Street, I always make sure I drive in the right lane because of concern someone is going to back out into me from an angled space.  Other people have expressed to me the same fears.
When a large vehicle is parked next to a driver, it is impossible to back out with a clear line of vision and that’s the area of concern.

• Missing Spaces -- The most complaints I’ve heard (so far) about the Franklin St. part of the project is the reduction of the number of parking spaces in front of the post office because a lot of people who stop at the post office to get their mail, or transact other postal business, drive in and out of those spaces all day long.
It was difficult enough for them to find a place to park when all of the spaces were in place.
As I’ve mentioned in this column before, I walk to the post office each day, and there is no doubt the removal of some of those parking spaces has made it a lot safer for pedestrians who were not only dodging Franklin Street traffic, but North Park St. traffic and drivers who were pulling in and out of the parking spaces. With the location of the remaining spaces north of the crosswalks it has made it much safer to cross the street -- and I mention that from first-hand experience.

Listen to the “City Hall Insider” hour with Paul Osborne on Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning over NEWS/TALK 1340 WSOY.  




Paul Osborne
Editor & Publisher

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The photo at the top of the page shows downtown's Central Park with the fountain and historic Transfer House.

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