Jobs, growth key issues in Phenix City Council District 3 race

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 21, 2012 

The race for Phenix City Council District 3 is the season's most crowded, attracting six candidates who want to represent the south side of the city.

While they all disagree on who should be the district's next representative, most agree that jobs and growth are key issues.

Incumbent Arthur Sumbry Sr., a 71-year-old mortician, said he wants to keep his seat so that he can "finish the job we've started." That would include seeing a hotel built on the riverfront, along with the Troy University campus building and completion of the Riverwalk.

Sumbry contends that the main issue facing people is CB&T of Russell County and members of the Phenix City Board of Education trying to control the outcome of the election.

"They're trying to control the black people of Phenix City," Sumbry said. "People should vote for me because I have the most experience. I've been there and done that."

Sumbry has faced a number of legal issues in recent months, including several criminal charges. He was arrested in May on charges he sought to influence a potential juror on the eve of his perjury and forgery trial. His trial on allegations he forged a warranty deed and lied about it under oath is set for Dec. 3.

Frankie Horace, 51, works for Exide Batteries, and believes councilors need to do more to bring jobs to the city, and especially to the south side of town.

"That requires strong and effective communication, and we're not getting that right now," Horace said. "We need to utilize the potential of what we have here, specifically on the south side of town. South Phenix City is a jewel, and it's untapped because we're not utilizing it."

Horace said his experience in leadership roles makes him the best choice for the position. Being a good leader, he said, means making the hard choices, not the popular ones.

"I've had to make tough decisions, and I think that's vital in this election," he said. "I'm not a politician, never will be. I'm a statesman. I make decisions based on what's best for all of us."

Arthur Day, a 66-year-old retiree from Snap-On Tools, believes he's "the right man for the job at the right time." He, too, sees attracting industry to the city is a key issue, not just for jobs but for an expanded tax base. "My key issue is bringing jobs to the city, bringing jobs to our industrial park," he said. "That will give our children an opportunity to find a job here and not have to go off to find employment, so they can stay here and raise their families here."

Day said he would move one of the council's two monthly meetings to the afternoon, the way Columbus Council schedules theirs, to allow more people to attend, "and see the way their city government works." He would also try to increase communication between the council and the city school board and the Russell County Commission and try to get more people involved in the political process.

"I will hold town hall meetings and ask the citizens of District 3, 'What do you want to see done in this district,'" he said.

Eunice Patrick is a 72-year-old retired educator, real estate agent and entrepreneur who said her variety of life experiences make her the best choice in the crowded field. She said if she were elected, she would focus on District 3, but specifically on the needs of the elderly and the youth of the area.

"We need to upgrade road conditions in the district," she said. "But we also need more activities for the elderly, something for the children to do when they're out for the summer. We need to keep up our parks and swimming pools."

Patrick said city leaders should look to other cities that are growing successfully, study them and follow their lead. "I would like to look at other cities, see how they're growing. I would do research and see what's working in other places," she said. "We need to do whatever is needed to improve growth."

Clementine Warren, a 55-year-old paraprofessional who works with special needs children, said she sees needs in the community that aren't being taken care of and feels called to public service. "People need to be informed," Warren said. "That's the number one need in this area. I want to inform the people in the community about what's going on and where to go to get services."

Warren also has a unique idea to help inmates be productive and at the same time help feed people. She said she would like to start a centrally located community garden, with inmates and people working off community service working the garden and with the produce being put back into the community. "I would like it to be at a center point because it will be for the whole community," she said.

Candidate Arttie Pontez Sumbry, the incumbent's son, did not respond to requests for interviews for this story.

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