After losing mayor to coronavirus, Alabama city to elect new leader for first time in 36 years

Mid-South

CLANTON, Ala. (NewsNation/WIAT) — For the first time since 1984, the city of Clanton will elect a new mayor.

After losing their mayor of 36 years, Billy Joe Driver, to COVID-19 last month, two well-known figures in the community began their campaigns.

The race is between retired general contractor and local business owner, Jeff Mims, and a doctor and 12-year city councilman, Dr. Jeffery Price. Both born and raised in Clanton.

Mims said he started his run and wanted to enter politics with the old adage, “if you want something done right, you do it yourself,” in mind.

“Any time you’re around someone with a lot more experience than you, you need to soak in what they know,” Price said. “So I’ve done that and with the growth that we have coming and the planning that we’ve been looking at over the last couple years, it’s just the right time for me.”

Both Mims and Price have infrastructure in mind.

Mims says right now, the community’s roads need some attention.

“If you drive through town, you can’t drink coffee because you’re going to wear it,” Mims said.

Price wants to fix the roads as well, but he’d like to focus on economic growth, specifically by getting to work on a shopping and entertainment center next to I-65 exit 212.

“I would love for us to have this Farm Center master plan implemented almost exactly the way it is,” Price said. “It’s a one, five, 10, and 20-year plan. That would bring in the growth and sales tax.”

The Farm Center master plan was not available when NewsNation affiliate WIAT reached out to city officials. The plans are still awaiting approval.

Both candidates agree it’s time to shift their fire department toward full-time.

“I would like to see us get a full-time fire department,” Mims said. “Take care of the people of this town if something happens.”

“We have great volunteers,” Price said. “There’s got to be a way where we would continue to use the volunteers and on a daily basis, start to hire full-time firemen as needed. We do need to move toward a full-time fire department at a graduated pace.”

Some residents are concerned that electing a mayor that’s a doctor could come with the price of not having enough time for the role.

Price said he can use the same prioritization as the mayor, saying he’ll only spend Saturday mornings at his practice.

“I chose primary care basically for the reason that it’s not as labor-intensive at night and there’s free time for me to do things with my family. I’ve owned my practice since 1999 and I’ve been to go see every ballgame, every practice, every cheerleader event that my family has because that was important to me,” Price said.

Mims said he would make up for his lack of political experience by getting to business immediately.

“Once I get there on day one, I’ll be able to start digging into things and start seeing what we can do,” Mims said.

The people of Clanton vote for their Mayor on Aug. 25.

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