Alderman Jimmy Haley has long contented that the city of McMinnville needs to have a cohesive vision for the future. As it’s incoming mayor, he wants to look outside the box and make some positive changes.
“I feel like this was a mandate from the voters from the citizens that have been concerned,” said Haley. “We don’t need to be led by fear. We need to be led by faith in our leaders to lead. The people have chosen a new mayor and a board that they have put confidence in, so I think a new day and brighter tomorrow is now in front of us.”
Haley toyed with the idea of running for mayor four years ago, going as far as to pick up the papers, but 2012 would be the time.
“I decided to run for mayor because I saw the city was going in a direction that I did not think was in the best interest of the community,” said Haley. “I feel like there has been a dark cloud hanging over the city. I have never seen so much negativity or suspicions on my entire time on the board.”
Over the last four years, city board members seemed to be divided on issues and would fight amongst themselves. Haley says discontent on the old board will be replaced by unity in the new one.
“I think there will be unity on the new board and a good working relationship between those new members who have been chosen to serve,” he said. “After all, we are public servants and we are there to serve.”
To shine light on the activities of the board, a change in procedure will be proposed. Haley wants to do away with the long-standing city procedure of discussing items in committee and forwarding them to the board that same evening.
“I have long contended that we, as a board, do not need to consider items immediately after committee,” said Haley. “Everybody on the board should have a full package of material in front of them and that information should not be altered during the meeting. We also need time to let the public know what we will be discussing. I believe in transparency in government.”
Haley says he has already begun having discussions with County Executive John Pelham about ways to build a better working relationship between the two governments.
“I would like to see a better working relationship between the city and county,” he said. “We have to put away the suspicions of ‘What are you going to do next?’ and focus on what are we going to do. I feel like we should be sharing a common vision for the betterment of the whole community.”
While the county focuses on factories to bring jobs, Haley wants the city to focus on a different form of industry.
“Tourism is an industry,” he said. “I think we need to focus on things we already have an abundance of, but are not utilizing. We need to begin to build a foundation and lay the ground work now by partnering with groups and with the state to promote the things that we already have, such as rivers and caves. I see McMinnville as a little getaway spot.”
Working together also means lending a helping hand to local businesses.
“I would like to know why the business climate in McMinnville is not conducive to success,” said Haley. “We need to do more to help existing businesses and to make businesses more user friendly.”
Green is also in the plans.
“We are supposed to be the nursery capital and Sow Natural,” said Haley. “We should be involved in recycling. The city should consider replacing street lights with energy efficient bulbs. We could do a neighborhood at a time or a few streets at a time. With cost reduction, maybe we can replace some of the street lights that were lost.
The city mayor has the job of deciding which alderman sits of what committee. Haley says he is working on those assignments in order to hit the ground running on Nov. 27.
“I have already been looking at each individual to see who would be a good fit for each committee,” he said. “I have received some requests, but I need to look at their abilities. I want their talents and leadership abilities to be utilized in the best way possible.”
Haley was elected by a large margin, which could point to a high confidence city voters have in his abilities.
“I think people understand who I am and how involved I am in the community. They know I’m not afraid to roll my sleeves up and help. I don’t make a lot of promises, but I promise to do the best job I can and to try to make a difference in the community.”