IrondaleToday: You’re entering your second term on the City Council and there has been a lot of turnover among your colleagues on the council. In your opinion what has been the biggest challenge in transitioning from the previous City Council to the new one?
Councilman Sanderson: The biggest challenge for me, personally, has been dealing with having a budget and at least one ordinance which I wrote or was instrumental in passing overturned by the new council majority.
IrondaleToday: As Chairman of the Economic Development Committee for the City, what plans or approach has the Committee discussed to bring new commercial development to Irondale.
Councilman Sanderson: We are currently working on both a brochure and electronic document which will list several positives in locating a business in Irondale as well as providing answers to frequently asked questions. I am trying to establish a cooperative partnership with both the Chamber of Commerce and the Commercial Development Authority (CDA). I would also hope that we can establish partnerships or working relationships with other municipal governments in the area.
IrondaleToday: Since you are Chairman of the Economic Development Committee, why are you not the Council liaison to the Commercial Development Authority?
Councilman Sanderson: I have no idea. Council President Bobby Joe Wilson made all committee appointments. Actually there was no liaison to the CDA during the previous council term.
IrondaleToday: You previously worked on the 2012-2013 City Budget that at the time expended all of the revenue projected to come into the City, is that budget still in place or has a new budget been passed by the Council?
Councilman Sanderson: The budget which I primarily drafted is still in place, but will probably not be after tomorrow night’s (2-19-13) Council meeting. Councilor Wilson is offering an amended budget which I expect to pass. While I commend him for his hard work on this budget, and do not have major problems with the majority of the changes, there are some which I just cannot support. They include completely defunding the CDA and reducing the funds going to housing abatement by $40,000. I also note that this is no longer a balanced budget, but rather a deficit budget.
IrondaleToday: A new City Attorney group and two new Municipal Court Judges have been hired by the City Council at a substantially increased cost to taxpayers, why were these changes made?
Councilman Sanderson: Mayor Alexander made the decision to hire a new City Attorney, Birmingham lawyer Charlie Waldrep. The Council majority voted to hire 2 judges, William Bell, Jr and Brad Bishop. I supported hiring Mr. Bishop because of his vast experience in the municipal court area as both a Samford Law School professor and the current municipal judge in Hoover. He has also wrote several books on the subject. I did not support the appointment of Judge Bell due to a lack of experience. I apologize if my responses do not fully answer the question, however, none of these appointments were my first choice.
IrondaleToday: What steps are being taken to offset the increase in cost to the City for the new law firm and judges?
Councilman Sanderson: As I mentioned, Councilor Wilson has prepared an amended budget, which if passed, will partially offset these additional costs by reducing other expenditures. I would also note that the budget passed by the previous Council estimated $100,000 in revenue from the Residential Renter’s Registration and Inspection ordinance. This ordinance was repealed by the new Council, with mine being the only vote against repeal.
IrondaleToday: During the last election, the issue of a grocery store for Irondale had been discussed several times, what if any progress has been made in obtaining a firm commitment from a grocery chain or independent?
Councilman Sanderson: To the best of my knowledge, none. Obtaining a grocery store remains one of our top priorities, but we cannot force one to locate here. The standard reason we get for lack of interest is that there are already too many grocery stores within 3 miles of Irondale.
IrondaleToday: Two years ago you ran for the State House. Do you have any plans to run again for that office?
Councilman Sanderson: Several people have approached me and asked me to run for the State Legislature in 2014. Right now I have no plans to do so, but never say never. I am also seriously considering a run for Mayor of Irondale in 2016 if there appears to be support for my doing so.
IrondaleToday: A statement has been attributed to the Mayor that although he is Superintendent of the Water Works, his salary has not been approved or paid by the Council. Why is the Mayor not being paid for this position?
Councilman Sanderson: My understanding is that the Mayor is being paid as head of the water system. During the first meeting of the new Council his reappointment as superintendent of the water system was on the agenda. It was tabled at the request of the Council President, and has not come back before the Council. Even though he has not been reappointed, as no one else has been appointed, he continues to serve as superintendent and to my knowledge is being paid as such.
IrondaleToday: Former City Councilman, James Stewart, has been hired as the new City Clerk, doesn’t this conflict with Alabama State Law prohibiting government officials being hired as City employees for two years after leaving office? If not, what makes this an exception?
Councilman Sanderson: Good question! Our former City Attorney said it was a conflict. Our current City Attorney, Charlie Waldrep, says it is not. In answer to a question I asked at a Council meeting, Mr. Waldrep said he had contacted the State Ethics Commission and there was no problem with the appointment.
IrondaleToday: Is there anything you would like to add?
Councilman Sanderson: Yes, I would like to invite anyone who wishes to receive my email, “Councilor’s Comments”. I provide one before each Council meeting. In this one I provide the agenda, a couple of sentences explaining what I believe each item to be and how I will vote on them. I also send out another email after each Council meeting, “Post Councilman’s Comments”, in which I provide a breakdown of what happened with each of the agenda items including who voted for and against them. Also provided are updates on various events, new businesses and monthly police statistics. You do not have to live in District 3 to receive this newsletter. All you need to do is email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be included.