By Bernie Delinski
TUSCUMBIA — The nameplates for the Tuscumbia administration in the City Council auditorium are safe for another four years.
When Mayor Bill Shoemaker won Tuesday’s runoff to secure his third consecutive term, the city extended a string of continuity that started in 2004: the third straight Tuscumbia election without the incumbent council member or mayor losing their seats.
The only change in the administration during that span occurred in 2008 when District 1 Councilman Steve Finch decided not to run for re-election because he believed his job commitments kept him out of town too often to fully meet the demands of the position.
With that, Randall Davis ran unopposed in 2008. Davis also was unopposed this year.
Shoemaker, who garnered nearly 59 percent of the vote to defeat David Cole in the runoff, said he hopes that continuity is a vote of confidence from residents.
“It seems like the majority of residents who vote were pleased with the council that has been there,”
Shoemaker said. “What you’re looking at is a reelection of the past administration.”
Only one council member had to worry about re-election. District 3 Councilwoman Martha Smith did so in the Aug. 28 election, receiving 55 percent of the votes to defeat Tom McCormack in her district.
The remaining council members were unopposed.
Three council members, District 1 Councilman George Johnson Sr., District 4 Councilman Richard Coates and District 5 Councilman Robert Mitchell, were opposed but won re-elections in 2008. Smith was unopposed that year.
With the exception of Davis, the members of the current administration were elected into office in 2004.
It’s possible the existing administration’s popularity is due in some part to memories residents have of headline-grabbing infighting from previous administrations before 2004. There was an impasse between Mayor Wade Gann and most of the council during the 2000-04 term and there had been infighting in administrations before then.
Gann didn’t run for reelection in 2004, and only two council incumbents chose to try for another term, both
Shoemaker said the existing council has individual strengths that complement the council as a whole.
“They have their own unique talents,” he said. “We have a well-balanced council that respects each other. That’s the reason we have as good of a camaraderie as we have; we respect each other. We don’t always agree, but we respect each other when we disagree.”
Shoemaker said the city has managed to move forward with several projects, even though Tuscumbia has a small sales tax base. The city has a new water treatment plant, is converting the old downtown post office into the new City Hall and is close to completing a roundhouse and turntable attraction outside the old Tuscumbia Depot downtown.
In addition, the administration is working with Sheffield and Helen Keller Hospital officials on a project to five-lane the two-lane portion of Avalon Avenue that extends from the Sheffield-Tuscumbia line into Muscle Shoals.
There also is a movement among merchants and officials to bring more business downtown, and officials are negotiating with businesses interested in locating on U.S. 72 in the city limits, the mayor said.
“We’ll try to finish up projects along the way and try to bring up new projects, and the majority of voters apparently wish us to continue in the ways we have been going,” Shoemaker said.
Mitchell, the council president, said the administration has experience in city issues.
“We all know the problems in the city and we know the limitations in the budget,” Mitchell said. “But we’re working hard to get more sales tax dollars in so that we can accomplish more. We’re looking at some ordinances we hope to get to soon, such as one to help keep the city cleaner. We’re also looking for funding to get some of the streets resurfaced.
“We’ve got some new stores downtown and prospects on Highway 72. If the national, state and local economy can pick up, we’ll be able to do some more. We’re striving to make every dollar go as far
as we can to solve the problems.”
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.