Baker seeks fourth term to see projects through

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Mike Baker hardly sounds like a politician, but the three-term Demopolis City Council member has decided to make another run for his seat.

“I’m not going to take credit for anything the city has done, because [the city council does] things as a group,” said Baker, who represents District 5. “We’ve got a lot of projects in the city that I’d like to see through, and I’d like to be there during that time.”

Qualifying for the Aug. 24 municipal elections began Tuesday, and Jack Cooley, a retired insurance agent, has publicly announced his intentions to seek the District 5 seat.

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For a time, Baker wavered between ending his tenure on the City Council and seeking one more 4-year term. In the end, Baker said the looming transitional period of the city swayed him to see another term.

“We’ve had a good group of people assembled, but we’re losing the leader,” Baker said of Mayor Austin Caldwell’s retirement. “I really feel that we need to be there to help whoever the new mayor is.”

Baker is no stranger to city government. Along with 12 years as a city councilman, Baker spent 17 years with the Demopolis Fire Department.

“I’ve got a lot of time invested with the city, and I really feel I need to spend one more term there.”

In large part, Baker believes the next four years will be crucial to the stability of Demopolis.

“There are five or six projects we’ve got going, and financially, it’s going to be a real test for the city council,” he said. “And with Austin leaving, this is going to be a trying time for us. It’s going to be an important transition.”

In the past two years, city government has acquired new buildings for public safety and the horticulture department. Bert Rosenbush Jr. deeded his building on North Walnut to the city, new council chambers are being constructed in the old church next to city hall, and the Old School is in the midst of renovation.

“We’ve also got the college going up, and I really feel it’s important to be around for all of this construction,” Baker said.

One approach Baker said he’d like to take if elected to another term is one of patience and community support.

“Let’s get the public involved,” he said. “There may be a need to postpone some of our projects. With something like the horticulture department’s new building, though, let’s be creative and use city workers to tear down some of the walls when it’s raining outside.”

Getting people involved, Baker said, gives Demopolis residents a stake in the future of the city.

Baker hardly sounds like a politician when discussing his plans for the next four years.

“I don’t really have a platform,” he said. “People know who I am and they know that I’ll work for them.”

Over the past 12 years, Baker said he’s proven his concern for District 5.

“I don’t think there’s one street in my district that hasn’t been repaved,” he said.

Along with taking care of his district, Baker also believes it’s vital for members of the City Council to continue pushing for community-wide improvement.

“We’re a group, and we work for the good of the entire community,” he said. “With this transition, we’ll need to have a little more day-to-day contact with city hall. We’ve got contacts the new mayor won’t have, and it will be up to the city council to help the new mayor become familiar with the operation of the city.”