1. What are your feelings about possibly taking over for someone who’s been in office for so many years?
Joe Barger has been an exceptional mentor during my time as his Vice-Mayor, and I will continue to seek out his expertise if I am blessed with the honor of succeeding him. As Mayor, it would be my goal to apply his ethics and common sense approach in a way that carries on to future generations. Recently, Joe said, “As long as the next Mayor thinks more about the people than politics, they will be just fine.” Seeing him fight for citizens’ concerns and following through with their issues has been the most impressive aspect of my time with him. I have made it my goal to continue his tradition of being a strong advocate for people’s concerns in our city. Mayor Barger has been my Mayor since I was born, and he will always be my Mayor. I find comfort in that I have learned from a legend, and his example gives me confidence moving forward with our city.
2. What are some of your short and long-term goals if elected mayor.
Our council meetings are poorly attended because people only come when they have something they want to put on the agenda. This presented a challenge to me in my main goal of creating a citizenry that is informed, and can in turn, inform the council. I don’t believe that the answer to poorly attended meetings is to have more meetings. It’s our job as a council to put the work in and find innovative ways to access our city’s expertise and ideas from its citizens. In the short term, I would like to finish the work I have begun using current technology to bring our next generation into the political process. The specific things I have accomplished during my time on the council and want to finish, improve, and continue are the following: I have “friended” many citizens on social media (ViceMayor Millwood on Facebook) to keep people up to date about what we are doing on the council. Posting our agendas ahead of time gives people a chance to see what we are voting on before the council meeting. When the city has issues with things like trucks hitting our underpass, what to do in our recreation fields, and finding the best place for a potential dog park, I can talk to truckers, our recreational leaders, and dog owners before I even step foot in a council meeting. Our quarterly newsletter and online posting of our meetings (live and on demand) are other great avenues we need to continue and inform people about. I also write a blog about current events in the city at nickmillwood.com in order to keep people up to date with my personal goals through the council.
In the long term, I would like to protect the quaint/historic look and feel of our downtown while encouraging smart and planned growth in our growth corridors outside our downtown. We have a college coming in by Zaxby’s on Alabama Highway, and managing the traffic flow through this growth is a big concern. Widening Alabama Hwy to alleviate the traffic our citizens experience coming in from that area should be a top priority of our next Mayor. We also have exciting growth opportunity going down Hwy 41 toward the truck stop exit. We have annexed all the way to the county line going that direction, and we are currently finishing some important infrastructure to bring more industrial/manufacturing opportunities to our community. I would like to emphasize this growth needs to be managed carefully. We could grow immediately and fast by opening up our planning/zoning, but through identifying specific needs within the community and keeping in mind what serves our citizens and tax base most beneficially, we can grow in a way that fits our community’s needs and values. Big purple fireworks stores may be profitable, but we can do better as a community to grow smart. I would also like to see our tax base remain low in the long term. We have had small adjustments, both up and down, since I’ve been on the council, but the goal has been to maintain a flat income level to maintain our services, employees, and infrastructure. Our millage rate is well below other local municipalities, and it needs to remain that way.
3. What is the main thing voters should consider or know about you when casting their vote in the runoff election?
Voters should know that I have dedicated my life to making our community a better place. As a teacher, coach, and FCA leader, I have the opportunity daily to impact the lives of our city’s youth and provide them with a male role model they can count on. As Vice-Mayor, I have worked tirelessly to inform the community and draw from our collective expertise to help make the best decisions for our city. As a husband and father to 4 daughters, I am fulfilling the most important role of all and helping to secure a bright future for our community by nurturing my children to ultimately be our leaders. I believe I have the drive, education, heart, and experience to be a Mayor that makes our city proud.