(Editor’s note: This is Part 3 of a four-part series of coverage from Wednesday’s mayoral forum.)
Lister Reeves was the third candidate to give his opening statement at Wednesday’s mayoral forum hosted by the Republican Women of Coffee County. His statement is as follows, followed by his answers in the Q&A period:
“I am honored to be here. I consider it a privilege and an honor to be here with each of you this afternoon. My name is Lister Reeves, and I’m running for Mayor of Enterprise. I have never held an elected office here in Alabama, so I don’t have that type of experience, but what I do have is what I call real life experience, real world experience.
“I’ve run a business for over 35 years, so I know what it takes to run a business and I know what it takes to keep the doors open. I know what it takes to run a budget, set a budget and adhere to that budge, so I do have those kinds of experiences.
“I could not have achieved anything that I have achieved in my life the last 35 years if I hadn’t had one person by my side, and that is my wonderful and beautiful wife Shawn Reeves. God blessed me with the divine appointment to meet her at Bible school.
“Why do I want to run for Mayor? Because I believe right now Enterprise is on the verge of taking a potential next step into its greatest days. I do not believe that Enterprise has come anywhere close to its best days. I believe our best days, our greatest days, are still in front of us, and I believe we need that right person to take us into that next level.
“I’m going to speak about the elephant in the room, no pun intended. We are experiencing situations in our society today that, if we’re not careful and we become too complacent, we will lose a lot of our freedoms and liberties that we have now. I believe we need the right person to be the mayor of this great city who will know and can discern the times because we need that right now.
“I believe we need a person that has a skill set that can work with people, can be a uniter of people, that is transparent of everything that goes on in the city and that has the boldness and the courage to deal with difficult issues that may come our way. I believe, folks, that we will experience some difficult days in our future. I believe that I can be that type of person that can take us, not only to the next level, but that can deal with the difficult issues that may come our way.
“I humbly say to you that Enterprise has a lot of opportunity ahead of it, but the days ahead of us are even greater. I’m a dreamer. I dream big, and as long as I continue to dream I believe that I can help instill that into our city. I believe that our city needs a figurehead, a person, a face, that is willing, not only to go out and bring industries and bring businesses to this area — because I can do that and I know how to do that and I know how to implement those kind of things — but someone who knows how to talk to people and someone who, just as important as anything I’ve said, someone who knows how to listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth. I believe we are to listen more than we are to talk, and I believe I can be that type of person.
“I appreciate this opportunity. Thank you. I humbly say to you today, if you’re a person of faith, I ask you to pray. I believe with all my heart that God will give you the peace in your heart to know who you are and who to support. Thank you for the opportunity for this. I humbly ask for your consideration and vote on Aug. 25. God bless each one of you, God bless Enterprise and God bless the United States of America, the greatest country that God has ever allowed to be put on this earth.”
As mayor, how do you plan on addressing the changes in our revenues, especially once the Paycheck Protection Program loans and unemployment dries up if our sales tax revenues do greatly decrease?
Could we have started with a harder question? I’m going to look straight at you and say I don’t know what I’d do right now. I don’t think any of us have ever had to experience what we’re going through right now. But I am a businessman, so what I’d have to tell you right now is this: one, I’d have to check and see what we have in reserves to keep our city going. We’ve got to be able to keep our infrastructure going, that means water, sewer, lights, things like that. I would have to get together with the city council and the financial folks we have at City Hall, and we’d have to figure out a game plan to go forward.
But for me to look at you right now and tell you exactly ABC, I don’t know. We’d have to meet with the other folks in the room at City Hall and find out. As the mayor, I’d only be like the Chief Financial Officer so I’d have to meet with my board, which would be the city council, and we’d have to figure out a plan. I have no doubt we’d be able to figure out a game plan, we’ve just got to get to where we can figure it all out, which brings me to that skill set from before. We need a uniter of people.
What are your top three priorities to maintain the continual growth of Enterprise?
Job growth through the creation of more jobs. Enterprise is poised to be on the verge of being able to bring in more manufacturing, more industry, more retail and more small businesses. I’m a small business owner myself; small business is the backbone of our country. When you do those kinds of things, and when you continue to do that, you bring in more people so the real estate market goes up, which means people are trying to buy houses and buy property which means our tax base, our revenue base, goes up, so it brings in more revenue.
I agree wholeheartedly on bringing in more recreational facilities: baseball, soccer fields, a swimming complex. I’m a basketball nut; I’ve been a basketball official for over 35 years. I want to bring in a nice indoor basketball facility for tournaments. There’s nothing better you can do for a city during ball season than to bring in more tournaments. That brings in travel ball and it brings in people from all over the state and country. I’ve talked to my officials before and I’d like to bring in basketball teams from all over the state and from all over the Southeast during Thanksgiving and Christmas time to have tournaments, so some of the things that we can do like that would be some of my priorities regarding job creation.
The day of prayer event was canceled at the beginning of COVID-19, even though it was outside and people could have easily distanced themselves from each other. How will you gauge the serving of Enterprise citizens regarding events if you’re elected mayor?
Oh that’s a hot button for me. I will never, if I’m your mayor, I will never, never stop anyone from congregating if they so choose to peaceably assemble. That’s one of the things I was alluding to earlier is that we are on the verge of losing our liberties and our freedoms that we have come to cherish for hundreds of years if we are not careful. So as your mayor, I will stand before you now and say that I will never stop an event such as this from happening.
As a matter of fact, I am going to boldly declare to you, one of the reasons why we’re in the mess we’re in right now is that we’ve kicked God out of our country, and until we get to the point where we’re willing to stand and put God back in our country and say that we’re one nation under God, we are going to continue to have problems. So I stand bold before you and say that we will stand with you or anyone that wants to pray or peaceably assemble and we will do it in the right manner that doesn’t cause any violence or any harm to anyone else. You will have that right, mask or no mask. That will be your individual freedom and right to wear a mask or no mask if you so choose.
Who are the top five business donors to your mayoral campaign?
Top five: Lister Reeves, Lister Reeves, Lister Reeves, Lister Reeves and Lister Reeves. I fund my own campaign. I made the decision, along with my wife, several months ago that I would receive zero campaign contributions from any organization, from any special interest group or any individual. I did that for one reason: I did not want any ties to be associated with me whatsoever from any individual or from any special interest groups so that no one could ever say there was a hook in me that someone had. So by God’s grace we’re funding our own campaign and we’ll see where it takes us.
With the uprising of lawlessness and protests being held in cities across our nation, what are you prepared to do to maintain law and order if such a protest breaks out in Enterprise?
Obviously we’ve seen a lot of events take place across our country where leadership has refused to stop certain events that have caused lawlessness, looting and the destruction of property. As your mayor, one, I will always protect your right to peaceably assemble. That’s the key. As long as you’re doing it peaceably and without any harm to any individual, I will always stand with you in your right to be able to do that.
But, if it crosses that bridge or that line, where it becomes any unrest, I want our police department and other first responders to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their mayor and city leadership stands with them to arrest, to take under control and use any necessary means within the legal means to stop anything from happening that could cause any harm or lawlessness or damage to anyone’s property. If you want to damage property, go set your own car on fire but you’re not going to be allowed to damage anyone else’s property. I will stand with our police department and I want our police chief to know that we stand with them. Police all across the country need to know that leadership is with them and not against them and we need them.”
We have a homeless problem in Enterprise. What are your ideas on addressing and helping with this problem?
This is not an easy matter to address. We do have a homelessness problem in Enterprise. I think one of the first steps we need to take is we need to get all of our faith-based organizations — the churches, non-profit organizations — together and get in a room and discuss what we can try to do to begin to eliminate (the issue). We do have some resources already, groups from in and out of town that are already working on this, but it needs to be a concerted effort with the city and we need to not put our heads in the sand and act like it’s not out there.
One of the first things to solve any problem is you need to recognize you do have a problem. Once we recognize it and are willing to accept that we do have this issue, then I believe we can begin to work forward and aggressively try to eliminate it as much as possible. We will never eliminate it completely, but we can always work towards elimination because that is what we ought to do — try to help those that are homeless and we need to try to help as much as possible. Since I’m a pastor myself at High Pointe Church, it’s very heavy on my heart and dear to my heart that I’d want to be able to get with other faith-based organizations and other pastors. It’s amazing what can be solved with effective leadership. A part of effective leadership is getting things accomplished and not caring who gets the credit for it. I don’t care to get the credit for it as long as we get the goal accomplished.
I understand we are still waiting on this year’s audit, and here it is three months before October. Will you require the city to have an annual audit by a reasonable date each year?
As a mayor, you work with your financial folks at the city to get all the information that’s needed on to the CPAs or the accounting firms, but sometimes you’re kind of held hostage to that accounting firm that’s maybe doing the audit themselves and doing all the paperwork. There’s kind of a give-and-take here. As long as we get all of our information to those institutions or organizations that are doing the actual audits, then I feel like we have pretty much done all that we can do. Then, if those institutions are not able to get that information back to us in a timely basis, then perhaps it’s time we look elsewhere for the next year to get someone who maybe can do it on timely basis.
Will you be willing to allow neighborhoods that should be in the Enterprise city limits, meaning neighborhoods all around them are already in, to also be annexed into the city limits?
It’s a difficult question because you have some people that want to be annexed. Obviously, you have to make sure that you have the infrastructure and the means to get water to those homes and you’ve got sewer access and good streets. You have to make sure you have a police department that can handle those extra areas of coverage and a fire department that can handle those extra areas, and all of that can be worked out. But it’s also a two-way street. For instance, let’s say it’s on a road or neighborhood and you’ve got multiple people in the neighborhood.
My understanding is that everyone in that neighborhood has to agree to become part of the city. In other words, you can’t have one here and one here and then one over there and oh, over here says no. It has to be an agreement, so it would take the whole neighborhood being willing to become part of the city to begin that process. That would be part of the communication process of making sure that all of those folks within that particular area or neighborhood are willing to be annexed. I think it’s a great idea. The more we can increase our geographical area increases our tax revenue base and our foundation. It would be wonderful, but it has to be done methodically so you don’t extend your services beyond what you can actually cover.
Perry Vickers’ opening statement and his responses will be featured in Wednesday’s edition of the Enterprise Ledger.
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