Anita Bedwell currently serves the Rainbow City Council as the representative for Place No. 1. She is running for re-election.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Rainbow City. I am a lifelong resident of our town. I’m married to Jeff Bedwell, who is also a lifelong resident of Rainbow City. Our children are Andrew and Chance Bedwell and our two grandsons are Britton and Cotton Bedwell.
Where did you attend school?
I attended elementary school at John Jones and I high school at Southside High School. I attended Gadsden State Community College, then the UAB school of hygiene and graduated with a dental hygiene degree.
How long did you work as a dental hygienist?
For approximately 15 years I was a dental hygienist. My family – my husband – was in construction. It became very important and very needed that I leave my dental profession and move into construction. Proudly I came into the family business and after a while started a business of my own, Rainbow Pipe in Rainbow City. My family really operates three different businesses in Rainbow City.
What was the transition like from working in a medical environment to running a business?
There is a lot to learn. [You have to be] open minded, ask a lot of questions and rely on so many people with everything that you do. [You have to have] trusted friends and people with experience you are blessed with to be able to listen to and fall back on the knowledge that they have.
Do you have any hidden talents?
For the folks who know us or know me, I enjoy working and I enjoy my job very much. One of my favorite things is spending time with my grandsons and our family. We love the water, water sports and everything to do with the water. We are blessed to live here in Rainbow City where that is available to us.
What are three words that describe you?
I’m a Christian, I try to live up to that statement. I love people, and I love activity and being involved.
What advice would you give to yourself as a child?
Listen and record. Whether you write it down or now you can record it, but listen, learn and record everything that people tell you as much as possible. The people before us have such great and vast knowledge that as they share things with us, we need to absorb that knowledge, no matter what it is.
What do you love the most about Rainbow City?
I love the fact that Rainbow City is a small town, but it is very versatile. There is so much opportunity here for growth, not just in Rainbow City but in the surrounding areas. In Rainbow City, we have a lot of opportunities that have changed over the last few years and [we are] looking for new things every day that will benefit our community as a whole that will be good for our children as they grow and become of age in the workforce. [We are looking for] jobs and education opportunities that is good for them and their families.
What inspired you to run for city council initially?
My inspiration came from a lady that was on the city council. Her name was Mrs. Cora Kelly. I had watched Mrs. Cora and the other council members as they made decisions for the city. As I was growing up, my family was involved in different areas of the city, from politics to employees. My dad was a fireman and a fire chief here in our city and we grew up with the utmost respect for the city, doing positive things for it, watching it grow and wanting it to be a better place. As I became older and was interested in the political side of it, I watched Mrs. Kelly and family members and other members of the council and knew that they were striving to make decisions for Rainbow City. I just felt like I would enjoy being a part of that – and I have.
What differs you from your opponents?
I think that we all are looking to move Rainbow City forward. We all are looking because of the opportunities that are out there right now to improve our city. Nobody wants to regress. I just feel like my heart is here. I want things to improve. I want things to grow in a constructive manner that would be good for our city as a whole.
What do you believe you can offer Rainbow City?
I believe I can offer a lot of experience and knowledge that I have learned over the last three terms, and that knowledge that I have collected as a business person. [I can offer] just the desire to want to work for Rainbow City and the people.
What have you learned from your previous terms on city council that you will take with you, were you re-elected?
I have learned one thing initially, very quickly. As a business owner, I can make decisions and move things forward in a very quick manner if that’s the way that I so choose. In the city, I think that it has taught me a lot of patience and that we can move forward but it doesn’t happen nearly as quickly as I’d like for it to. I was accustomed to watching the change move [quickly]. There are so many avenues ethically, from the state level, and so many requirements that it is hard to move very quickly. Some days I wonder if God put me in this position to teach me patience!
What is your vision for Rainbow City, were you re-elected?
One of the things with the city that I would like to keep, whatever the cost, is a safe city that people feel comfortable driving through, shopping and raising children here. I think that is very important. Sometimes, we look at growth, and I feel like there are great opportunities for growth, but I would like to see this whole picture come together and work together. Industry, business, schools and safety – it all has to happen and work together. I would just like to see Rainbow City continue to grow and thrive and again be a place that is safe and that our families and children can stay here, and not have to look to the future of moving somewhere else for positive income and good jobs.
What are your plans for combating the effects of the coronavirus on your community?
I think early on we were approached by the county to put in place some safety measures that at that time no one knew what was coming. We did start some safety measures, but I feel as if that on a regular basis, we have met and stayed updated as a council [with the] mayor and the administrative employees at city hall. We have met and watched all the recommendations that the CDC has. I think that it is a changing landscape. I would just like to see us continue to update and stay involved in things that are recommended from the state level and the CDC. I have been affected by COVID. I had COVID last week; I just returned to work this week.
I am thankful that the effects of that virus did no more to me than it did. I’ve been able to recover, and it wasn’t a fun trip, but nevertheless I am thankful that I am on the downhill side. But I think that the protection of our employees and our first responders is something that we need to just be aware of, and be aware of the changes that are coming up. I don’t feel like anyone has all the right answers, but I do feel like that we just need to watch the changes as they come and keep ourselves updated and protected as much as possible.
There’s been quite a debate recently on how to open schools, with some school systems electing to commence studies virtually with others moving forward with face-to-face instruction. Do you plan to address this situation, and if so, how?
Well, I have a personal opinion and it is from research that I have done and recommendations from state level and even from the federal level. But personally, I think my opinion would be that we have to open our schools, and the timing for that is very critical. Knowing when and how to do that and what date, I would rely on someone else who has much more knowledge than I do about that, but I do agree that they have to be open back at some point and time. I would love to see them go back to school in the fall at a regular schedule.
If you have any message you’d like to send to potential voters, what would you say?
The first thing I would like to say is that our forefathers fought very hard for us to have the opportunity to vote. Don’t take it lightly; please get out and vote. That is something that is very important that we participate in. From me, I’d like to just say thank you for the opportunity to serve you in these past years. I would love to have your vote and serve you again. Something that I truly, truly would like is I would like to hear from people. Come to council meetings and participate. The decisions that I as a council member make sometimes are decisions that I have researched and have an answer for. I would love to know what your take is on a lot of things, what your opinion is. Please share that! It is very important to know what people want. I would just appreciate your consideration of me for Place No. 1.
To watch the full Zoom interview, visit Facebook/TheMessengerGadsden.