Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley cruised to re-election Tuesday night, defeating challengers Andre Petties and Anthony Underwood in winning a second term in office.
Gulley will also be working with several familiar faces on the City Council as five of the city’s councilmembers won re-election Tuesday.
The remaining two council district races are headed for a run-off.
Gulley collected 59.33 percent of the vote, avoiding a run-off in the three person field. Underwood, who had run on his business credentials, garnered 39.58 percent of the vote while Petties received 1.09 percent.
Gulley, 46, thanked supporters after the win.
“First, I’d like to thank the Almighty God for this victory,” Gulley said. “What we have been able to accomplish in this city in the last four years is nothing short of miraculous.
“I want to thank my supporters for putting their faith in me once again. I’d also like to extend a hand to those who did not vote for me.
“Now is the time for all of us to work together to build on the progress we have all seen these past four years here in Bessemer.”
Gulley said voters responded to his message and the success of his first term. In his first term, the city of Bessemer moved from a $20 million deficit to a $12 million surplus. The city reduced its crime rate by 25 percent and provided new technology to its police department.
About 150 vacant and dilapidated houses were demolished in Gulley’s first term as mayor. The city also settled a lawsuit with the Board of Education from the previous administration. The school system had sued the city over non-payment of property taxes. Gulley’s administration settled the lawsuit and has worked with the school system to pay it about $4 million owed by the city.
The city also broke ground this year on a new Youth and Senior Recreational Facility and will break ground soon on a new City Hall. The city has never had a recreational facility and Bessemer’s municipal pool was closed in 1968 after integration. The City Hall building is over 80 years old and deteriorating.
The city also handed cost-of-living raises to city employees, the first such raises in years.
Gulley was endorsed by the Voters League of Bessemer and the Concerned Citizens of the Bessemer Cut-Off.
Gulley said his next term will focus on revitalizing downtown Bessemer, recruiting jobs and industry to the city and continuing the fight against blight.
He promised to continue efforts to reduce crime, fight blight, attract industry and promote Bessemer in his second term.
Among councilmembers, incumbent District 2 councilmember Chester Porter won re-election over challengers Lester Milligan and Albert Grant. In District 4, incumbent Donna Thigpen defeated challenger Ronald Whaley.
In District 5, incumbent councilman Ron Marshall defeated three challengers to win outright Tuesday.
In District 6, councilman Jesse Matthews cruised to victory over challenger Dock Scott to win his fourth term in office. Matthew is now the eldest of the city council with the retirement of Sarah Belcher in District 3.
In District 7, incumbent Cleo King defeated challenger LaTricia Crusoe to win a second term.
The only incumbent facing a run-off among the council members is David Vance in District 1. Vance will face Gregory Coleman in the run-off.
In District 3, newcomers Addie Cheathem Davidson and Cynthia Stephenson-Donald will head to a run-off to replace the retiring Sarah Belcher.
From: Staff Reports