By Charlene Holmes
When it comes to politics and most other things, there are two kinds of people. There are the people who sit on the sidelines and complain about problems and people who roll up their sleeves and work hard to solve problems.
Bessemer’s Mayor Kenneth Gulley falls in the latter category. He said, “I was dissatisfied with a lot of things that were going on in Bessemer’s City government, so I became involved” to help make the badly needed changes.
Politics are nothing new to Mayor Gulley. He started in city government at the age of 27 and served for seven years as former Mayor Quitman Mitchell’s Assistant and Chief of Staff. “After that, I had been bitten by the political bug,” he admitted.
“I served on every city board before running for mayor and I was satisfied serving. It was not until I was elected Mayor that I realized how bad things in city government actually were,” he said incredulously.
Mayor Gulley continued, “The city was almost 20 million dollars in debt. Seven hundred seventy thousand dollars ($770,000) were owed to local vendors such as NAPA and Walmart. They had put the city on a cash and carry basis.”
Reflecting, Mayor Gulley said regardless to the severity of the problems facing the city, “My work ethic has always been the same. My strengths are in managing and financing money, managing people and holding them accountable.“
He continued, “I believe in giving a man the resources that he needs to do a job efficiently and holding him accountable to do a good job.”
To hold himself accountable, Mayor Gulley said he keeps his campaign literature at the corner of his desk as “a reminder of what we said we would do. We have fought to change people’s perception of Bessemer. We wanted a more transparent government. We have Facebook and Web pages so that the public can see firsthand what the city is doing and where the money is going,” he added.
Mayor Gulley said the city has been running a budget surplus for the last two years. In 2012, he said the surplus was $6.5 million.
He added that many good things are happening in Bessemer. The city has begun paving streets, and all city employees were given a 4 percent cost of living raise.
The city recently secured $5 million from the Alabama Department of Transportation for road and bridge projects through the ATRIP program according to Mayor Gulley.
He said renovations have been made to the Municipal Courtroom and the Civic Center has been painted and new flooring has been installed.
Mayor Gulley continued, “I am pleased that the Mayor and City Council have a good relationship which is evidence that God’s favor is on this city and this administration. God is using His people to do what He wants done for the citizens of this city.”
Bessemer is a “unique city with unique people who are some of the best people in the world. They have love and pride for this city,” he said.
“Equality for all is the reason the city purchased the old James A. Davis Middle School building. A youth and senior citizens recreational facility will be built at Roosevelt Park near the track,” he said. “ I was born in 1968 and during that time, there was pool segregation. That is why we have pledged revenue via an increased 1 cent sales tax for the recreation center. This is a 12-15 million dollar project. We have the money and it will happen. Plans are also in the works to build a new city hall, as well. We can’t worry about skeptics. We must do what’s necessary and what is deserving in this city,” Mayor Gulley said.
When not spending time “hanging out with his wife and watching horror movies with his son”, Mayor Gulley said he likes to play golf.