The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

October 7, 2012

City Council District 1 runoff set for Tuesday

— Voters in Athens’ District 1 have a little unfinished business to tend to before the new City Council can be sworn in for new terms on Nov. 5.

A five-man race in the Aug. 28 municipal election predictably ended with a runoff. On Tuesday, District 1 residents will decide between Chris Seibert and Danny Crawford for the seat, which is being vacated by Councilwoman Mignon Bowers.

Whoever wins the election will join District 2 Councilman Harold Wales, District 3 Councilman and Council President Jimmy Gill and new council members Joseph Cannon in District 4 and Wayne Harper in District 5 as decision makers for the city.

Despite having four opponents, Mayor Ronnie Marks claimed a decisive victory in the election, beating his closest competitor by 1,858 votes.

District 1 residents will vote Tuesday at the Athens Recreation Center, located at 13880 Alabama 251 in Athens. City Clerk John Hamilton said there would be only one machine, as he does not anticipate a large turnout.

As of July 13, there were 2,625 voters in the district. As of Aug. 27, there were 3,167. He attributed the bump to residents registering for the Nov. 6 General Election.

Results from Tuesday’s runoff will also be announced at the Center.

Chris Seibert

Age: 37

Occupation: Director of clinical adoption, southern U.S., Stereotaxis

Education: University of Alabama, B.A. in history; University of Oklahoma, master’s of human relations; University of South Alabama, master’s of business administration

Previous political experience: none

Community involvement: First and Ten Club of Alabama, First United Methodist Church, Church Council, Habitat for Humanity, Athens Rotary Club, Athens Recreation Center soccer coach, Athens Dixie Youth baseball coach

Personal: Married to Tiffany Davis Seibert. Children, Brock and Ben Seibert

After garnering nearly 41 percent of the vote in the municipal election, Seibert feels he has a slight advantage over Crawford. However, he felt a runoff win would depend on Tuesday’s turnout.

Since the election, he said he’s been reaching out to District 1 residents he feels will vote for him, and also working to gain the support of his former District 1 rivals Marty Bruce and Dr. Wayne Reynolds. He also planned on being at the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention this weekend.

When asked about the concerns of voters in the district, Seibert mentioned cleanliness and keeping neighborhoods aesthetically pleasing.

“People just want to make sure their tax dollars are being spent responsibly and reasonably,” he said. “That’s one thing the general consensus agrees with.”

When asked about the possibility of the City Council raising sales taxes or property taxes as a means of generating more revenue, Seibert said he would need to be more educated on the issue before making a decision.

“I don’t think we’re in a deficit situation,” he said. “At the same time, we’ve got to plan for the future and for growth. I’d need to take a look at the books and see what we would do with the (additional) money. But I’m not outright opposing it, either.”

With two meetings left this month, it’s possible the council could vote on the increase before the new members are sworn in. Seibert said, however, the city must carry on with or without its new members.

“If they feel it’s an urgent matter, the city business has to continue,” he said. “It might make more sense to wait and see who’s on (the council) before passing (a tax increase), but they’re not required to hold off on that.”

When asked why people should vote for him over competitor Danny Crawford, Seibert said he brings new ideas to the council and has a background in both private sector business and community service.

“When you’re in a situation where you’re charged with running a business and making a profit, it’s beneficial to evaluate the government the same way,” he said. “(The city) is not in the business of making money, but in the business of spending taxpayer money efficiently. I think I’ll bring some fresh perspectives.”

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