Linden mayoral candidates face issues

Published 8:49 pm Friday, August 15, 2008

By DAVID B. SNOW

DAVID.SNOW@DEMOPOLISTIMES.COM

Linden mayoral candidates Mitzi Gates and Charles Moore sat down yesterday to discuss their issues for the Aug. 26 election.

Both are focusing on Linden business — improving existing businesses and attracting more business to the city.

Moore has worked at Georgia Pacific for more than 42 years and once served on the Linden City Council as an at-large councilman before serving as a Marengo County commissioner for 16 years.

Gates is an English and journalism teacher at Linden High School and serves on the Linden City Council for District 5.

“Industry is one of the biggest issues,” Moore said. “When you only have one access to your industrial park, and it’s a city street with a bridge on it, it’s a hard sale. When the bypass comes, it joins our industrial park on the back side, and then it will be a better sale. That’s the biggest thing: We want jobs; we want good-paying jobs.”

“I am looking forward to the Chamber of Commerce coming together,” Gates said. “I think it’s been at least 30 years since there’s been a Chamber in Linden.

“I think that, before we put all of our energy into getting new business and industry, we really need to support the industry that we currently have. That means doing the things that we need to do for the businesses we have here, helping them come up with ideas to grow their industry…There are too many storefronts that are empty, too many lots in the industrial park that are empty.”

Both candidates also spoke about the impact that the Marengo County Economic Development Authority would have on the City of Linden.

“First and foremost, I would look forward to working with the City Council and the Industrial Development Board,” Gates said. “Working with Debra Fox, the new executive director for the Marengo County Economic Development Authority — I think that is the most exciting thing for the next mayor of Linden. I think that we are poised and ready to see some economic growth in this county and this town.

“Ms. Fox has done a really good job,” Moore said. “That’s a real good start. Ms. (Kathryn) Friday and she are a good team, and I personally think it will go somewhere. Linden has lost a lot of businesses in the last several years — through a bad economy or whatever. I would love to see these stores become businesses again.”

The candidates also spoke about recreational needs for the City of Linden.

“Recreation is a big issue,” Moore said. “Softball is getting so big here that we don’t have the facilities to accommodate it.”

“I would be interested in adding to the opportunities for the young people in recreation as well as our senior citizens,” Gates said. “We have a number of things for the young people…but I’d love to see more for the seniors to do in this area, like lighted walking trails.”

Asked what they would like to see Linden have in the future — perhaps even beyond their prospective terms in office — the candidates gave interesting answers.

“I think a lot of our future is in the economic development,” Gates said. “We need to keep a lot of business in Linden. I want to be able to have everything that I need right here.”

“I would like to change the City Hall building,” Moore said. “I do not like to stop and go in City Hall with the way it is right now. I would love to see a City Hall with a drive-through window to pay the bills. It’s in a bad location, and I think the public needs to be out from under it.”

Both candidates want to work to improve economic conditions in Linden, to bolster existing businesses and attract new jobs to the city. It promises to be a tough decision for Linden citizens to make regarding their next mayor on Aug. 26.