Meet the candidates for the Jacksonville City Council

Unofficial results from the Jacksonville municipal elections are in. (Courtesy of JSU)Unofficial results from the Jacksonville municipal elections are in. (Courtesy of JSU)

Madison Bailey, Correspondent

The Jacksonville City Council election will take place on Tuesday, August 25. The polls will open at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. 

There are a total of ten candidates who are running for city council positions, with four of the candidates seeking reelection. The following four locations will serve as polling places for the local election: Glenwood Meadows Meeting Room, EaglePoint Church, West Side Baptist Church Fellowship Hall and First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.

Mayor:

Johnny L. Smith is seeking re-election and has been the mayor of Jacksonville for fourteen years. Smith is an emeritus professor of mathematics at JSU, where he has taught for 34 years. He is a member of the Jacksonville Exchange Club, ALM Policies Committee, and the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission; he also serves as the Vice Chairman of ALM Energy, Environmental and Natural Resources Committee. Smith was the 2017 Jacksonville News Citizen of the Year and the 2017 Book of Golden Deeds Recipient.

  • Smith is for:
    • Open communication and transparency with citizens
    • Collaboration between the city of Jacksonville, city schools, and JSU
    • Continuing the positive growth for Jacksonville “without losing the small-town feeling that makes us who we are” (Sherry Laster, campaign)

City Council – Place 1:

Clara Valtorta is a self-employed math curriculum specialist with a focus on K-12 content. She is married with a five-year-old daughter. Valtorta grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. She attended the College of Charleston for her bachelor’s and the University of Texas for her master’s before settling down with her family in Jacksonville. Valtorta believes it is beneficial to “have a group of people representing [the public] that have different and varied life experiences and points of view.” She is aware that her “life experiences and outlook may differ from other people in Jacksonville,” but she vows to be open and listen to every idea.

  • Valtorta is for:
    • Supporting local businesses while also bringing more businesses to Jacksonville
    • Advocating for more inclusion and accessibility in Jacksonville
    • Collaboration and connecting with the Industrial Development Board in order to bring new growth and industry to Jacksonville
    • Looking for gaps in representation

Andy Green has been active in the Jacksonville community for over two decades. Green is an Advisory Board Member for Calhoun County Habitat for Humanity. He is the Chairman of the Commercial Development Authority in Jacksonville as well as the Co-chair of the Complete Count Committee for Calhoun County. He served as Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador and was named the 2019 Chamber Ambassador of the Year. Green is an alumnus of JSU and has continued to serve the university for over fifteen years. He currently holds the title of JSU Director of Continuing Education and Outreach.

  • Green is for:
    • Jacksonville serving as an example for other cities while remaining proactive
    • Promoting activities in an accessible way through multiple channels
    • Jacksonville being synonymous with education – emphasizing the importance of education
    • Strengthening the city’s relationship with JSU, city schools, businesses, and residents

City Council – Place 2:

Terry Wilson has served as a city councilman for Jacksonville since 2019. He is now retired but dedicated a large portion of his life to working in business. Wilson is an alumnus of JSU, where he earned his bachelor’s in business and master’s in personnel counseling. He was once the owner of Higginbotham Printing, a business located in Anniston that primarily printed for JSU many years ago. He is married with two grown children. Wilson served as president of the Gamecock Club as well as president of the Calhoun County Chapter of the JSU Alumni Association for several years.

  • Wilson is for:
  • Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the city of Jacksonville
  • Encouragement of growth within the city of Jacksonville and working through challenges to bring more business to the area
  • Improving the quality of education, from the city schools to JSU  
  • Strengthening the relationship between JSU and the city with a goal of working together as a team

City Council – Place 3:

Tony Taylor has served as a city councilman of Jacksonville since 2016. He is the Vice Chairman of the Calhoun County 9-11 Board of Commissioners, and he has served and chaired committees within his church – First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. He is a member of the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Committee, and he serves as liaison for the Jacksonville Bicycle Advisory Committee. Taylor dedicated thirty-one years of service to the Anniston Fire Department and even served as Chief of the Anniston Fire Department before retiring in 2017.

  • Taylor is for:
    • Applying work experiences through serving the citizens of Jacksonville                       
    • Listening to the voice of each individual citizen
    • Strengthening relationships that were developed through his work in municipal government – making solid connections as a city councilman

City Council – Place 4:

Sherry Laster is the owner of Perfect Touch Hair Salon, a small business in Jacksonville she opened in 1987. She is also a cosmetology instructor for Calhoun County schools and serves on the Jacksonville City Board of Education. Laster encourages her students to serve the community through the beauty industry by volunteering and providing services like free haircuts for kids in July. Laster, who is an alumnus of JSU, has lived in Jacksonville since 1984 and is married with two children. She often volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club and the after-school program in Jacksonville.

  • Laster is for:
    • Harnessing drive and commitment to make a difference while serving all people in the Jacksonville community
    • Collaboration between the city of Jacksonville, local schools, businesses, and JSU
    • Encouraging growth while placing emphasis on the Jacksonville’s small-town feeling

Adam Allen is a small business developer who runs a manufacturing facility and real estate development, both commercial and residential. He is originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, but has been working in Jacksonville for the last fifteen years. Allen and his wife decided to settle in Jacksonville and raise their two children in the Jacksonville community. Allen serves at his local church and volunteers as a coach for a youth baseball team. He is very active in both of his children’s lives as well as the Jacksonville community in general.

  • Allen is for:
    • Offering his abilities and skills from work experience to help further the local economy and to aid in the growth of existing small businesses
    • Belief that a strong local economy will fuel education
    • Offering Jacksonville youth more programs and activities

Jerry Parris is a retired engineer and an alumnus of JSU. He has actively served as a City Councilman of Jacksonville since November of 2000. He is a member of the Finance and Public Safety Committee and serves as the Chairman of the Public Works Committee. Parris is the city of Jacksonville Representative to the Calhoun Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) of the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission (EARPDC). He is a member of both the Gideons International and the Exchange Club and also serves as Elder and Trustee of the Church of the Covenant Presbyterian Church.

  • Parris is for:
    • Communicating the goals and concerns of the city of Jacksonville to other legislative bodies
    • Improvement of programs and organizations
    • Listening to the views of the public on matters concerning city operations
    • Ensuring the welfare and order of the city of Jacksonville

City Council – Place 5:

Coty Galloway works for the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. He was born and raised in Jacksonville, and he is an alumnus of JSU. Galloway has actively served as a city councilman of Jacksonville since 2016. He is a Jacksonville Public Library Board Member and a member of the city of Jacksonville Planning Commission. He is a member as well as trustee of Jacksonville First United Methodist Church. Galloway is also a member and chairman of Town and Gown, which focuses on the relationship between the citizens of Jacksonville and the students at JSU.

  • Galloway is for:
    • Community-oriented representation
    • Promotion of economic development
    • Strengthening the support of education on all levels

Matt Walz has been a resident of Jacksonville for twenty-two years. He is an alumnus of JSU, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He is the self-employed owner of Matt’s Computer, which is located in Jacksonville. Walz has been married for twenty years and has a sixteen-year-old daughter. He is very involved in his church and invests much of his time in working hard to better his business. Walz believes that city council “is the most humble level of government a person can hold and is the most important level of government to represent the people.”

  • Walz is for:
    • Representing the people by listening and hearing the issues of the citizens of Jacksonville
    • Going above and beyond to ensure that issues are addressed and resolved
    • Committing to give 110% in a position of representation on city council, just as he does with his business
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