Wright seeking commission chairman's job

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Posted 9/18/16

Dan Wright recently announced that he is seeking the office of chairman of the Walker County Commission.

He is currently serving his second term as the commission’s District 2 representative.

“I believe I have done all I can do for this …

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Wright seeking commission chairman's job

Posted

Dan Wright recently announced that he is seeking the office of chairman of the Walker County Commission.

He is currently serving his second term as the commission’s District 2 representative.

“I believe I have done all I can do for this county as a district commissioner and I see ways of doing things differently that will benefit the county as a whole. We need a strong, experienced leader who will stand up for the citizens and do what is best for all of Walker County,” Wright said.

Wright is running as an independent candidate.

“I, like all other Republican elected officials in this county and my opponent, was previously a member of the Democratic Party. I qualified as a Republican party candidate by completing the necessary paperwork and paying the qualifying fee of $951. One week later, I was notified that I had been disqualified and was given no reason why. And no refund,” Wright said.

Wright is a Walker County native. He graduated from Oakman High School. His family has owned and operated a business in Jasper for 31 years.

He is married to Karen Wright and has two children and three grandchildren.

“I have a vested interest in the economic growth and stability of Walker County. I want to see industry locate here so my children and grandchildren don’t have to leave this county to find work,” Wright said.

Wright worked for the city of Jasper for 19 and a half years before being elected to the commission. He is a school bus driver for Jasper City Schools and serves on various boards at the local level, including the Community Action Board.

He has served on the board for nearly eight years and is currently its vice-chairman.

Wright has recently been appointed for the third year to represent Alabama on the Transportation Steering Committee of the National Association of County Commissions in Washington D.C.

“This committee played a vital role in securing an additional $305 billion to the cities, counties, parishes and states across the country for transportation infrastructure. I believe in being involved in my community,” Wright said.

Since being elected in 2008, Wright has had two bridge built in his district and funding has been allocated for a third bridge. Wright estimates the cost of the three projects to be $2.3 million.

“One of those bridges was designed and completed by the hard-working employees of District Two and myself,” Wright said.

Wright became a certified landfill operator after budget constraints led to the county landfill to be closed on Saturdays.

“I personally opened and operated it on Saturdays to meet the needs of the citizens. Through that certification process, I learned that we could cut operating costs and improve customer service by purchasing trash cans for each household and going automated. In 2011, the other landfill operators and myself urged the commission to make this change,” Wright said.

The county switched to an automated system in 2013, a change that has brought the landfill’s budget from a $400,000 deficit to almost breaking even.

Wright was also in favor of refinancing the 2002 bond debt in 2012 but the previous commission decided to wait until the next administration.

“We completed the refinancing in 2013 for a savings of approximately $4 million,” Wright said.

As a commissioner, Wright said he believes in being hands-on and working alongside his employees whether it’s patching potholes, running equipment, fixing flat tires or digging ditches.

“I would never ask them to do something that I am not willing to do myself,” Wright said.

Wright said he also believes in being open and honest in all of the commission’s activities and in bringing in the media and especially the citizens because the people have a right to know.

“Everything should be done in the open where people can see what is going on,” said Wright, who opposed the financial committee appointed by the commission holding closed meetings. “They were acting in violation of the Open Meetings Law and I will stand against such things every time. There is much truth in the old saying, ‘He who hides nothing has nothing to hide.’”

Wright said he wants the commission to hold one of its monthly meetings at a time more convenient for citizens and that those who speak at meetings should be heard.

“On the record. Not before the meeting is called to order so as not to be included in the official minutes of the meeting,” Wright said.

Wright added that as commission chairman, he will vote on every issue, not just as a tiebreaker, so the people will know where he stands.

Wright said he would like to see the $10 car tag fee repealed when the final jay payment is made in Decemeber.

“We were led to believe that it was done to pay the debt on the jail, but that isn’t correct. I believe we as a commission have a moral obligation to right this wrong,” Wright said.

Wright is also a strong proponent of education.

“I voted against my fellow commissioners when they chose to lower the education requirements for employment with Walker County. The editor of this paper said Walker County stepped back in time when that decision was made. Folks, we should never be stepping backwards! What is this saying to the youth of this county? It says an education is not necessary and this is not the message we want to send to the future leaders of the county,” Wright said.

Wright said he has taken every opportunity to educate himself since being elected in 2008 and has encouraged other county officials to do the same. He has completed 50 hours of required training for commissioners and an additional 20 hours, including chairing the county commission. He also holds numerous certifications including first response procedures during disasters.

“You can’t do the job correctly if you don’t know the laws. An effective leader has to be educated,” Wright said.

Wright said he has answers and solutions for Walker County’s problems.

“It’s no secret we have money issues, but we have untapped revenue in this county that could be utilized instead of placing a greater tax burden on the backs of you, the already overtaxed citizens. I am against any new taxes on our citizens unless it is done by a vote of the people,” Wright said.

Wright is running against Republican Jerry Bishop, whom he called “a good man” but added that “Mr. Bishop and I have very different leadership styles, different goals for this county and most definitely a different plan for reaching these goals.”

Wright said he believes the people of Walker County have been silenced too long and deserve to be heard.

“I believe as elected officials we should listen to the people who put us in office. After all, it is your lives that are affected by the decisions we make as commissioners,” Wright said.

Wright said that for the last eight years, he has worked hard and represented those who elected him to the best of his ability, being as fair and honest as he could and being a good steward of the funds his district received.

“Those of you who know me know that I am an average, blue collar working man. I don’t have unlimited funds to spend on a campaign. Therefore, I respectfully ask for your vote and support in the Nov. 8 election and invite you to attend our rally on Monday, Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. at Deano’s. Please feel free to call me with any questions at 205-384-0100,” Wright said.