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Haley, Mullican debate progress of city
McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley, left, and challenger Terry Mullican are pictured during Monday nights political forum.

McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley says the city is making progress.
Mayoral challenger Terry Mullican says the city is moving, but he’s not convinced it’s in the right direction.
Their comments were made Monday night during a political forum sponsored by Southern Standard and WCPI. Early voting is currently underway. Election Day is Nov. 8.
With McMinnville voters going to the polls to vote on package liquor stores and the chance to buy wine in grocery stores, alcohol has been a focal point. Haley says the referendums on the ballot allow government to step aside and for citizens to have their say.
“Alcohol has always been controversial. It has since the beginning of time,” said Haley. “It’s a critical question and it’s going to divide our community continuously. This was not a city-initiated referendum. It came from the citizens themselves. The citizens will vote and one way or the other it will be their wishes and whatever they do we will have to support as a city. Prohibition didn’t work. Passing laws to prohibit it didn’t work. I wish if I could as a mayor if we could pass a law that would end violence, would end drug abuse, would end alcohol problems, I would do it. But it’s proven government is sometimes not the best leader.”
Mullican said he can’t support alcohol becoming more prevalent in our community.
“There are no good things that come from alcohol. We can all think of a neighbor, a friend, or a family member who has had trouble with alcohol. Addiction is something that happens ... The problem with making alcohol more available is we’re telling our children that it’s OK. If alcohol were not a problem, then why don’t I have a beer setting here, or wine at the table. The reason is it wouldn’t be ethical. It’s not good for our community and I would never support it.”
Mullican said the Blue Building property has been unproductive in recent years. He suggested the city set a timetable and demolish the Blue Building if action isn’t taken during that time period.
“It’s a structure that has been failing for a number of years,” said Mullican. “In fact they had to remove the auditorium and gym just to retain it. I think we need to set a time limit in which we need to make a decision. If this tourism board is going to move that building in a certain amount of time, then I would be for that. If we’re going to sell it, I would be for that. But if we don’t do it in a timely manner, we need to tear it down and make it productive for our citizens in some way. The problem with restoration, it was originally a home, then it was a school, and then it was the Blue Building. It can never be restored to its original state. To get it to where it could be used would take a tremendous amount of money and I’m not sure we’d be best served by that.”
Haley believes a purpose can be found for the Blue Building, which has been vacant since November 2009.
“When the citizens voted on it in referendum, it was for restoration of a project that didn’t have a plan. And you have to have a plan if you’re going to move forward with that,” said Haley. “This tourism board that I’m moving forward with will be an excellent way to market that building and get it back on the tax records and bring it back to use again. The Blue Building does have possibilities. It does have a future and that’s the road we’re taking if my board supports this effort.”
When asked questions, Mayor Haley said he supports spending money to upgrade McMinnville Civic Center. Various dollar amounts have been tossed around with some estimates putting the renovation project in the $5 million range.
“The fitness and wellness of our community is paramount,” said Haley. “One of the weakest things we have on our Three Star application is fitness and wellness.”
When asked, Mullican said one of the city’s top priorities should be in finding a new home for McMinnville Police Department. The city is currently leasing property for the department on Red Road. He said three of the city’s primary priorities should be fire protection, quality roads, and police services.
“It seems we have not done very well in giving our police department a good location,” said Mullican. “We need to move forward and find a place, a permanent place, that will serve as a police department.”
Haley said he’s proud of his accomplishments as mayor over the past four years.
“Over the past four years, without raising taxes and being fiscally conservative, we have taken a dark city where the street lights were turned off and we’ve returned streetlights to our city and made us the first LED-lit city in the whole Southeast,” said Haley. “We’ve restored the Park Theater and made it a beacon for downtown and we’ve seen how that has helped business. We’ve made upgrades in Parks and Rec, we’ve made upgrades in the Water Department.”
Mullican said he has seen progress, but doesn’t think it’s necessarily been positive.
“If given the opportunity to serve as mayor, I see myself as a little bit conservative,” said Mullican. “I see a lot of progress in our community and I admire the work that’s been done. I guess I have some concerns with the way progress has taken off. I think my job as mayor would be to watch the progress as it occurs and to always honor the moral fabric that makes our community strong.”