In an attempt to provide our readers with the best possible coverage of the mayoral runoff set for Tuesday in Jasper, David O'Mary and Greg Tinker, the two candidates facing off in the election, were invited to the Daily Mountain Eagle office Friday …
In an attempt to provide our readers with the best possible coverage of the mayoral runoff set for Tuesday in Jasper, David O'Mary and Greg Tinker, the two candidates facing off in the election, were invited to the Daily Mountain Eagle office Friday afternoon.
With the election only days away, our newspaper wanted to be the exclusive place to get both candidates together at the same time, sitting at the same table, to have a conversation about their thoughts on several issues facing our city. A public forum was our first thought, but when scheduling a forum didn't work out, we felt having both candidates at our office at the same time would make for an interesting way to preview the runoff election.
Tinker and O'Mary were not given any questions ahead of time in an attempt to make the conversation more organic. Joining the candidates and myself in our conference room were Nicole Smith, a reporter at the Eagle, and Malarie Brakefield, our resident graphic artist. Nicole was on hand to cover the talk session, while Malarie was taking photographs that could be used with the article.
Throughout the 90-minute conversation, we covered a wide range of topics concerning Jasper and the city's future. The typical items, such as industrial and retail development, education and the city's financial standing, were talked about. Each of the men had their own ideas for the best way to handle those issues, but I was surprised at how similar some of their thoughts on particular problems were. That fact leads me to believe that both have a good idea on where Jasper needs to improve.
In more unique topics, faith was brought up, as well as thoughts on how to better unify the city as a whole. Both men were passionate in their responses concerning their personal faith.
While faith, or lack thereof, probably shouldn't be a determining factor when voting for office, listening to O'Mary and Tinker talking about the importance of their faith showed a genuineness in both men. The topic of faith led us to speak about the need for unity within the community. O'Mary called greed a major factor that keeps people separated. Tinker talked about the need for Jasper and Walker County, specifically the churches in the area, to come together and meet needs in the community. Both men agreed that unity and giving everyone a place at the table was important to them and would continue to be a priority if elected.
When talking about branding and marketing Jasper, both candidates mentioned highlighting the city's proximity to Birmingham. A drive from Jasper to Birmingham is now quicker than driving down Highway 280. That's a fact that many professionals in our area and surrounding areas need to know. Housing in Jasper is much more cost effective than in some other suburbs of Birmingham. "Twice the living at half the price" is still a true statement about our city, but it's a statement that a new generation has not heard. Tinker and O'Mary both stressed that marketing the city in a positive way is a key to growth in other areas.
As we ended our conversation, I thanked both men for taking the time out of their busy campaign schedule to speak with our newspaper. I also told them that I felt like no matter the outcome of the runoff election that all of us would continue to work hard and do our parts to make Jasper a better place to live, work and play.
The runoff is set for Tuesday, with voting taking place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in all five city districts. No matter which candidate you support, be sure to go vote. This is an important election for the city and as many citizens as possible should play a role in determining the next mayor.
James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.