COLONY — Having served as part of Colony's town council the past four years, Morris Fitts, Patrick Ward, and Donnis Leeth are all in agreement the town needs to resolve past problems so it can move forward.
The three mayoral candidates addressed the issues during Tuesday night's mayoral forum at the Colony Educational Complex. It was the third forum in a seven-part series sponsored by The Cullman Times and the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce.
"The community is to a point where everyone needs to join as one big family and form it back together," Ward said.
Fitts, who is an incumbent in the Aug. 28 election, echoed those sentiments.
"We need to work together for the better of this community so that we can grow this community for our senior citizens and young people," Fitts said to a crowded room.
Along the same thread, Leeth touched on the topic of unity.
"We've got to work on that as a whole for this community," he said.
When asked which was more important — the quality of relationships with people or the quality of relationships with leaders and other county and state governments— Ward said they were both equal and that one is no greater than the other. Fitts and Leeth didn't disagree.
"Leadership starts with the mayor and council first," Fitts said. "When the people see the leadership, working together, and the quality of the council and mayor, then we won't have a problem. They will fall in. It starts with the mayor and council working together in harmony. That's my whole goal, to see this community come together and work in unity so that we can grow from that."
Leeth elaborated on the subject by saying in order to make that happen, respect has to be shown to each other.
"Once you do that, then you work down to your mayor and council members," Leeth said. "If you treat people right, they'll treat you right."
Speaking on the topic of finances, Fitts and Leeth did not feel Colony was currently financially sound.
"We're not stable like we should be," Fitts said. "We have some debt, but the mayor can't do more than the council will let them. You've got to have a working council. If we can get them to do that, them we can iron out our problems."
One way Fitts feels the debt could be fixed is by consolidating the town's loans.
"Once all of our loans are all together then we can start moving," he said. "We can start seeing revenue coming in. I didn't come into office to borrow money. You've got to pay it out, not borrow your way out. We're going to pay it out and be living good."
Leeth feels it could be fixed by going around to local banks and asking for help.
"What we've got to do is ask them if they could help us get out of the debt we're in," he said. "We've got to ask in a nice and respectful way for their help. Then, we've got to work on some of the revenue to pay the debt back. If we manage that wisely we can go ahead with our missions."
Ward felt differently about the issue, saying he felt as though the town was financially sound.
"There comes a time when you're going to have to tweak it," he said. "I feel there are things in town we can enhance to make money. I feel if we set aside a committee we can move forward."
With a proposal to rework the sales tax distribution formula in Cullman County, all candidates agreed they believed it would be a help.
"I think it would help due to the fact that we really struggle with revenue," Ward said.
Leeth mentioned it would be valuable to the town.
"It would help us, but if gotten, you would have to know how to budget it," he said. "You can't buy nothing you don't need."
Fitts said too it would help, but that the plan would need to be revised so that it was stable for everyone.
"We don't have the number of people the other towns have, but if we can get a level base then I think we could benefit good from that."
The next mayoral forum in the series is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Iron Skillet in Dodge City.