Jacksonville council runoff election will be Tuesday
by Paige Rentz
Oct 06, 2012 | 2936 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Incumbent George Areno is set to square off against Jerry Parris in Tuesday’s runoff election, which will decide the final member of Jacksonville’s new government.

The pair moved into a runoff for Council Place 1 after Parris pulled in 798 votes over Areno’s 506 in the three-way race with Guy Bonds in August.

Retired from the Army and the Anniston Army Depot, Areno has been in Alabama since 1958 and worked for the city for a brief time beginning in about 1960. He is seeking his third term on the council.

Parris, who was knocked off the council four years ago by then-newcomer Derek Raulerson, said he wants to return to the body because he loves to serve the residents of the city. The retired engineer emphasized Friday that he supports two services traditionally placed under the local government umbrella: public education and public safety.

“Very supportive of our schools and what our kids need in the city,” he said. “I’m also very supportive of our city police and fire departments. I know those facilities need upgrading.”

He said his first order of business as a councilman would be “convincing the city that we can not only support the fire and police, that we can also support our children,” he said.

“Beyond that, there’s going to be a whole lot of listening and research to get up to speed with what’s going on in the city.”

With the new form of government removing the mayor from the council as of November, the council members will have to step up, Areno said. The mayor will no longer be involved in running meetings or setting the council agenda, so he feels committee chairs will need to take a more active role in knowing what’s going on in the city and bringing it back to the full council.

“I took my committee chairmanship as a personal responsibility where I looked into what was going on,” Areno said of his water works, sewer and gas committee during his first term. An advocate of long-term planning, he said he worked with the council to purchase adequate tools city employees needed to properly maintain the systems.

One of the first projects Areno has in mind for a new term is construction of a spur from the Chief Ladiga Trail to Alexandria Road near the site of the former Union Yarn Mill, which he said could be accomplished with funds the city has waiting to be used. Once the trail extension is complete, he said, the city could market the location to outdoor recreation or other related businesses to draw recreational tourists and increase revenue for the city.

As the two face off on Tuesday, Parris fears turnout for the race will be low and thus, results close.

“We’ve both worked hard, and regardless of who wins, I know the community will be well-served,” he said, noting the “kindness and support” of residents during the campaign process.

Star staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.

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