I initially came out for Michael Bridell in the municipal campaign for the city of Montgomery. Fifty-four years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott,I believe it is time for Montgomery to have a Black mayor.I also believe that the city should have a mayor who is dedicated to rebuilding the West-side of the city and creating some kind of economic justice for all of the citizens who have historically been left out in Montgomery. I believe Michael Bridell could be a catalyst for this kind of change. However, a friend of mine is a supporter of Scott Simmons, a business owner and strongly believes in his vision for the city of Montgomery. This friend of mine urged me to consider Mr. Simmons and arranged for me to dialogue with him. Mr. Simmons appears to be a very agreeable person with a great vision and a sincere interest in uplifting the city of Montgomery. After our initial discussion, he agreed to be interviewed for Juliusspeaks. This is what transpired.
Q: What is your agenda for the city of Montgomery?
Simmons: As mayor of Montgomery, I will be able to appoint judges. I want to find alternatives to incarceration for many of those convicted of minor offenses who now crowd Montgomery jails. Many of these people could benefit from rehabilitation, community service projects, and other alternatives to jail time. I also want to start a program called Second Chances. Through this program, we will help former felons to find work and assist in bringing down crime rates in the city of Montgomery. I also want to bring about some equity in the city's development.There has been $271 million spent on developing downtown Montgomery. North and West Montgomery have been completely left out. On day one, I plan to clean up Fairview Avenue. Also, I admire the Obama administration and want to work with the administration to bring about an economic recovery in Montgomery.
Q:What are your plans for economic development in West Montgomery?
Simmons: Well, as a business owner, I am already invested in the west side of Montgomery. I bought and established an apartment complex called Lofts at Cottage Hill. I took a dilapidated building complex and turned it into an inviting community for people from all economic backgrounds and walks of life. Further, as mayor I want to see a rebirth of the west side of Montgomery. I want to build an interpretive center at St. Jude like the one that is being brought to Alabama State University. That will attract tourism and tourism dollars. Tourism will be the next vehicle to move Montgomery towards a stronger economy. I also want to establish a police substation at Montgomery Mall and install a 6% sales tax in the city. This will encourage businesses in that area and draw tax dollars into the city.
Q:The road to bring back effective public transportation to the city of Montgomery has been long. What will you do as mayor to make public transportation more even more efficient and accessible to the public?
Simmons:Public transportation is a major issue. What I would like to do is make the buses free for all passengers in the city of Montgomery. Major cities like Nashville do this by allowing for advertising on the sides of buses which offset the costs of passengers. I believe this will further help stimulate the economy as well as make the buses more accessible to the public.