Editor’s Note: This article is the second of two previewing the city of Grambling mayoral race. With the Nov. 8 elections approaching, candidates can contact the Lincoln Parish Journal for advertising rates at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By T. Scott Boatright
Edward Jones and Alvin Bradley once worked together as Grambling’s City Councilmen.
Now they’re two of four men running in the Nov. 8 Grambling mayor’s race.
Jones, the incumbent, says he’s proud of what he and the city of Grambling have accomplished during his three terms as mayor so far.
“When I came in we were in a deficit of around $1 million, and we had 32 (audit) findings” Jones said. “Now we’re in a surplus and we don’t have any findings. We hadn’t had a grocery store here in more than 30 years, and now we not only have a grocery store but I’m also working on filling the rest of the (currently empty) spaces (at Legends Market)with commercial entities.
“We’ve upgraded so many things. We just got $4 million for enhancement of the city’s water and sewage and we have some more funding that we’ve applied for.”
Jones realizes sewage and water is one of the biggest challenges the city of Grambling is facing.
“Many of the lines are the original lines and have never been replaced,” Jones said. “Our forefathers brought us in water and sewage and we need to take it to the next level.
“We don’t have enough valves, so sometimes to make repairs we can’t just cut water off locally to make a fix, we have to shut water down to most if not all of the city for a repair. So we’re trying to add valves to be able to segregate the cut off water supply to just a specific area when making a repair. But then not all of the lines are mapped and we don’t know they’re there until they break or are accidentally broken, so that’s another issue we’re working to overcome.”
Jones has business plans for Grambing, too.
“I do want to bring some kind of industry to the city where we can employ our citizens,” Jones said. “I’ll be working on that as well so that we’ll be able to take things to another level.
“And I’m also trying to get a financial institution here. We had a credit union but it closed. We don’t have a bank or a credit union, so I’m trying to get a credit union here. We’re going to put in a travel center that’s starting to be worked on now on the (north) side of (Interstate 20) and I’m also working to bring in a nice, sit-down restaurant to Grambling.”
Jones said that because Grambling will add three new City Council members during November’s election, he feels the stability he can bring in a fourth term as mayor will be critical for the city.
“I want to continue what we’ve already started,” Jones said. “For a new person to come in as mayor, it’s going to take a while for them to see what’s happening and to establish their own contacts. That gives me an advantage because I’ve established those contacts in Washington (D.C.), Baton Rouge and locally. Everybody’s been working with us very well and we work with them very well.
“So yes, I wasn’t a mayor who just came in and opened the door. I came in and didn’t talk about what I was going to do, I actually did it.”
Bradley feels the need to reestablish the “town and gown” relationship between the city and Grambling State University is one of the key reasons he’s running for mayor, and he feels the 33 years he spent as GSU’s director of purchasing can help him do so.
“The university and city collaborate with each other on various projects,” Bradley said. “We have to collaborate with our police departments, for instance. We have to collaborate with Public Works. And we can help each other out in those areas. One can enhance the other. That’s one of the things I would really like to get back to — the ‘town and gown’ relationship.”
“And that is so important. The university is the No. 1 economic driver for the city of Grambling other than property taxes and other funding from public utilities.”
Bradley also feels communication needs to be improved between city officials and the residents of Grambling.
“I also want to increase the communication with our citizens as it relates to fire protection rating,” Bradley said. “When I was going out door-to-door talking with our citizens, that was one of the things I heard most – they want better communication between City Hall and the citizens here.”
Bradley, a former two-term City Councilman, says his other priorities include continuing the work of building a reliable infrastructure for water and sewage that will support current and future growth, working with programs within Parks and Recreation to enhance the lifestyles of the elderly, youth, and all citizens, assisting and supporting local business owners and attract potential new and start-up businesses to locate to Grambling and improving the fire insurance rating, lowering insurance premiums for Citizens thus enhancing safety for the community.
“And all of that starts by approaching all city governmental affairs and transactions with integrity and transparency,” Bradley said.
Building a better fire protection rating for the city is another of Bradley’s platform priorities.
“Looking at the last rating report, I think some of the issues can be resolved by addressing their findings in a timely fashion,” Bradley said. “We are where we are because we didn’t address the findings on the previous report, and our rating dropped.
“Trying to come up with some creative ideas for bringing in needed equipment is needed to try and increase our fire rating. We can try to collaborate with other cities as they advance their fire departments as far as trucks and equipment, we can piggyback on what those cities are doing and include ours with theirs to try and reduce the price.”
Bradley says he also wants to establish a hiking and walking trail as one of his park and recreation initiatives.
“I’ve heard some new housing is going to be built near the new Lincoln Preparatory School and I’l’ love to attach some hiking trails and some outdoor basketball courts.
“Those are things that can be of benefit from our youth to our elderly and everyone in between, so that’s something I’d really like to work to make happen.”