The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

August 5, 2012

Election 2012: Athens City Council District 1 - Q&A with Danny Crawford

The News Courier

Name: Danny F. Crawford

Age: 62

Occupation: Private contractor, crop insurance with USDA 33 years, now retired

Education: John C. Calhoun, 1972; Auburn University, BS 1974; Auburn University, MS 1976

Military service: U.S. Army National Guard, 1969-1975

Political experience: Athens City Council  1992-2004; Solid Waste Authority 1992-2004; Schedule C political appointment

Community involvement: Lindsay Lane Baptist Church, mission trips, volunteer on projects and helping others, Alabama Wildlife Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited and National Rifle Association

Personal: Wife, Mary Kay Dean Crawford; son, Matthew Dean Crawford                         

What is the biggest challenge or challenges facing District 1, and what steps do you intend to take as a councilman to overcome them?

The biggest challenge facing Athens is a faltering economy, which decreases revenues to the city‘s coffers. City services will still be expected to be provided, but there will be difficulty in funding each department’s needs to cover these costs.

In 2001, I was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the executive director to Alabama’s USDA Farm Service Agency. During that eight years, I managed over 350 employees across the state in delivering services authorized by the United States Congress.

During my tenure, the agency’s federal budget was cut over 20 percent by Congress and that resulted in having to adjust all departments’ budgets and downsize personnel, yet still provide service to consumers of those programs. I have the experience needed in prioritizing and functioning in a low budget situation, which will be a vital asset as Athens becomes more impacted by lost revenues.

The city of Athens has committed $1.1 million to fund a new public library at the site of the former Kroger on South Jefferson Street. The city also appropriates money each year to the library, which was $115,000 in fiscal year 2011-2012. Are you in favor of the new library, and do you feel the city should be held responsible for any operating costs beyond its annual appropriation?

A public library is just as essential today as ever. Many programs offered at the local  library are important to the development of our children.

Reading is a critical avenue to gaining knowledge at any age. Reading programs offered by the library challenge our youth, as well as our older adults. The library fills many of the voids that financially challenged families may have by providing computers and staff to assist those who need help. The myth that computers have taken away the need for a library is just that, a myth.

Operation costs should be shared by all parties with an interest, that is, the city, county and the public. The library has done a great job with the resources allocated to them by the city and the county, as well as their own funding sources. On rare occasions if there is a merited, unexpected expense, the same interested parties should be responsible.

Members of the Limestone County NAACP claim the city does not have a good track record in terms of hiring minorities and promoting diversity. Do you feel this is a problem in Athens? If not, please explain why. If you agree with the NAACP, what steps would you take to ensure a diverse workforce?

The city of Athens has an adept, diverse workforce. The workforce should be a   mirror image of the city’s population diversity and I believe the city of Athens has made great strides in accomplishing this. It is my belief that when hiring employees and department heads, the most qualified applicant should be selected. I will encourage all department heads to exercise diversity in their selection processes.

Athens and Limestone County have been fortunate enough to land new industries over the last several months, while others like Steelcase have announced expansions and plans to hire additional workers. As a councilman, what steps would you take to make Athens appealing to out-of-state industries and retail developers? Please be specific.

The development that Athens has experienced has been tremendous. The people who work every day on securing industry and retail development, like Bill Ming, Tom Hill and others, know what is important to prospects and what the city can do to expedite development. The city of Athens should consult often with developers and the Chamber of Commerce to provide whatever is needed that will help in that cause.

As an individual councilperson, I would be an ambassador for the city and would make myself available in any capacity that is needed. The total council and mayor should review regulations and ordinances that may hinder developers and revise these issues, as long as the interests for the city of Athens are protected.