Messenger file photo
Local businessman and former state representative, Craig Ford announced earlier this week that he filed the paperwork and officially became a candidate for Mayor of Gadsden.
“Gadsden is a special community with the potential to achieve great things,” said Ford, pictured at right. “I grew up here, and this city has always been home. I have a passion for Gadsden and the people who live here, and I want to work with our city’s leadership to see this city achieve its full potential.”
In the wake of the recent incidents, Ford said one of his top priorities will be to work with local law enforcement and school officials to improve public safety and school security.
“There’s a lot of things we can do that don’t cost much money but can pay off in a major way to improve public safety and school security,” he said.
As mayor, Ford said he wishes to work with Gadsden City Schools administration to do the following:
* Provide funding for full-time SROs in all city schools when children are present.
* Install silent alarms in every school administration office that connect directly to local law enforcement to speed up response time.
* Create a hotline and website where anyone can anonymously leave a tip if he or she are aware of someone who could be a threat. For example, if a student knows one of their classmates is being bullied online or if someone wants to anonymously report potential criminal activity in their neighborhood.
* Secure resources (such as grant money) to provide training for educators to recognize signs that a student is on the verge of doing something dangerous or is in trouble at home.
* Look into the possibility of turning all entrances, other than the main entrance, into one-way only doors so that teachers and students can escape in an emergency, but no one can “wander in” off the streets. Also, the front door of every school should be locked, and visitors required to be “buzzed in” outside of the normal pick-up and drop-off time periods.
Ford said his second major priority will be the local economy and addressing the high prices of gas.
“Everybody is feeling the pain each time they fill up their gas tank,” he said. “Those higher gas prices impact the price of everything else, from food to medicine. I want to see what we can do as a city to incentivize companies to lower their prices, particularly gas stations. That may mean some sort of temporary tax cut or credit. I am also interested in creating a city-funded website that tracks gas prices so that citizens can see where the cheapest gas is. This will increase competition and hopefully drive prices down.”
Ford said his third major priority is working with the business community to address the labor shortage, supply shortage and inflation.
“One of the most important things we can do locally to address the problem is improve workforce training, which will help solve the labor crisis and create more wealth for working families. We need to be focused on replacing the jobs we lost when Goodyear shut down. And we need to work together to make sure that paychecks are rising at the same rate as prices. As part of my plan, I will form a task force of local businesses, educators and labor leaders to discuss possible solutions and strengthen the ways we coordinate workforce training at Gadsden State with the needs of the local business community.”
Craig Ford is the owner of Ford Insurance Agency and The Messenger newspaper. He previously served in the Alabama House of Representatives, District 28 and served as the House Minority Leader for six years. He ran for the State Senate as an Independent in 2018. He and his wife Gwen live in Gadsden, where they raised their two children, Jonathan and Wells Elizabeth. They are members of Church of the Highlands. Ford has been a key player in the development of the Etowah Mega Sports Complex.