COLONY — Current Colony council member Donnis Leeth has announced he will run for mayor of the south Cullman county town in this year’s municipal election.
Leeth is finishing a term on the council’s Place 4 seat, responsible for oversight of park and recreation and the town’s library.
Finding services and activities for young people at Colony — a town whose population shrank by more than 30 percent in the 2010 U.S. Census — tops the list of reasons Leeth said he’s seeking the mayor’s seat.
“I’ve been praying about it, especially for the kids, because there’s nothing for the kids to do in this town,” said Leeth. “Our town is behind on the things we should have been doing in the last 20 years. We lost population [in the Census]. We used to have 385 people; now we have 268. Some of our young folks are moving away to Cullman, Huntsville and Decatur to get jobs. We need to have more here for them.”
Born at Colony and a graduate of Hanceville High School, Leeth, 60, said his struggling town’s recent problems don’t reflect his memory of the active community where he was raised.
“I saw, when I was growing up, that we had stores back then — we had stores back when it wasn’t even a town. Now we’ve got nothing. We need to get some in the area. The citizens now, they need some help. They need to get more than what they do. The town is supposed to help them get stuff, but we’re behind.”
While poor communication between the current mayor and council — as well as the town’s creditors — has, at times, been an obstacle to the town’s growth, Leeth said things have gotten better.
Still, he added, he hopes to offer the best choice for residents who want their mayor to build bridges between Colony and the outside world. Good communication, said Leeth, has to be a key component of any strategy that will help the town overcome its present difficulties.
“Every once in a while there’s still a little flare-up — but that was one of our main problems,” Leeth said. “I think I can do a little more good as mayor. You have to reach out to people; to communicate with them. You have to be able to call upon your senators; to make connections with others in other towns.
“And our churches...we have four churches in Colony, and I want to get the churches involved in the community more — especially the kids. We want to help make things better for the community, and in a town the size of Colony, churches can break you or make you.”
Donnis and his wife, Patricia, have four children: Donnis, Jr., Tyesha’, Jessica and Jasmine. Donnis has been retired from a 21-year career with the U.S. Army since 2002.
‰Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.