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Gates readies to be Linden’s next mayor

Until nearly three years ago, Mitzi Gates didn’t even know what the Linden City Council did. Now, she is set to take office as the city’s next mayor on Nov. 3.

But, don’t let her inexperience in politics fool you. In the 2-1/2 years since she was appointed a city council member, Gates has shown her effectiveness in city government.

“One of the great things about my experience in city government so far has shown me how great it is when a city council works together,” said Gates. “I am just so excited to see this new city council come together and continue to work towards a common goal.”

Gates campaign for mayor this summer was her first time to be in an election. In 2006, she was appointed by the city council to fill an empty seat for District 2.

“Some of my immediate goals will be continuing to work with Debra Fox (executive director of the Marengo County Economic Develop-ment Authority) to bring Linden, the city’s industrial development board and the economic development authority together to see some industrial and business growth come to our area,” said Gates. “I believe that is going to happen. This sense of partnership is amazing — it’s been such a dream of so many people.”

Gates said she believes Linden has one tremendous asset many people tend to overlook: its location.

“A lot of people would say we are smack-dab in the middle of nowhere, but in reality, we are smack-dab in the middle of wherever you want to go,” she said. “We are situated on the crossroads of two major highways and are within a two-hour drive of Mobile, Montgomery and Birming-ham — a perfect location for a lot of business opportunities.”

A project that was actually begun by the city council shortly after Gates was appointed will soon spruce Linden’s downtown appearance, a move intended to make the business district more attractive.

“I was able to come on the council and help work on a $300,000 T-21 transportation grant for downtown beautification,” she said. “It’s been a slow process getting it here, but now, as mayor, I will get see the project through to its completion. It’s a great opportunity for Linden to make a positive impression on people coming to our city.”

Originally scheduled to be completed by December, the project is actually just getting under way.

“Currently, the city is using part of the grant to fix some drainage problems,” she said. “Once that is complete, sidewalks will be worked on and 150 crepe myrtles will planted along the four city entrances.

“Wheelchair-accessble ramps will be created where needed or existing ones repaired and wrought-iron hanging baskets and planters will be added along the sidewalks.”

Gates said the area directly in front of Papa’s Foods would have the most noticeable change.

“I want us to look for more ways to find opportunities to make sure people who come through Linden on these well-traveled highways get the picture of what Linden really is. We want our city to look as charming as the people really are. It does matter, especially when trying to attract new business growth. No matter where an industry locates in our county, it benefits Linden.”

Another project Gates would like to see accomplished would be the creation of a walking trail.

“This is something our senior citizens have said they want,” said Gates. “So much has been done to our two great parks already. I would love to see us add something for the seniors.”

Part 2 of our look at Linden’s new mayor will continue tomorrow.