Anybody who remembers the last time Munford Mayor Dwayne Cole had some competition could be experiencing a case of déjà vu as the Nov. 3 election approaches.
Cole, 66, is seeking his fifth four-year term as Munford’s mayor. Only one time during his nearly 20 years as mayor has someone run against him. The year was 2008 and Mike Durham, then a Munford alderman, gave him a run for his money, losing by just 94 votes, 1,267 to 1,173.
During the lead up to that election, Durham said he was running because of increasing property taxes and what he viewed as excessive spending.
Cole’s challenger this year is 58-year-old Glenn Turner. He is a Munford alderman and he was the only board member who voted against a 20-cent property tax increase that was passed by the board last year.
Will the here-we-go-again theme continue with another close election?
“It’s a toss up,” said one Munford resident who is friendly with both candidates. “Both have been door to door and, as you know, we are on signage overload. Both have worked very hard.”
The most recent property tax hike was passed last June and helped the city pay for three new police cars, 10 new breathing apparatuses for the fire department, a new police officer and two new firefighters/paramedics.
“Raising property taxes is the last thing our board wants to do, however, we must keep up with a growing community and we must keep up with public safety needs,” Cole said. “That’s what that tax increase was primarily used for.”
The addition of two paramedics gave the city three, which allows for 24-hour coverage.
“They probably could have gotten me at 10 cents, but they didn’t want to talk about that,” Turner said.
Both men have a lot of experience with budgeting.
Cole points out that he has overseen 20 consecutive balanced budgets while serving as Munford’s mayor.
Turner has been a Tipton County commissioner for approximately 15 years. During his 30-plus years in education, he has been a principal and transportation director at Tipton County Schools. He is currently the energy and facility manager for the county school system.
When asked about his general thoughts on raising taxes, Turner said, “My philosophy is to try and grow businesses that produce sales tax. That’s the number one thing you need to look at … Yes, there are times when you have to raise taxes. Fortunately I haven’t had to do that yet because everything I’ve served on, except for the City of Munford, our tax revenue has increased and we’ve held our expenses down. But, at times, you have to look it if there’s a need, and the people will know when it’s time.”
Munford has grown, residentially and commercially, during Cole’s time as mayor, particularly the last four years. Breakfast Cove, Burger City and FasTimes are three new businesses that have opened in Munford in recent years. Several new housing developments, most recently the one located at McLaughlin and Doctors Drive, have also come to town during Cole’s tenure.
Cole and Turner have each campaigned very hard. Signs are everywhere (one house on McLaughlin has a sign for each candidate.) and both men have been going door to door for months.
“It’s always good to get in the community, get in the neighborhoods and listen to people,” Cole said. “I call it taking city hall to your home. I say, ‘I’m here to listen to you and what do you have on your mind that we need to improve on?’ I don’t get a lot of negatives, mostly a lot of compliments. I’m very thankful for what we’ve been able to accomplish. Getting into the community energizes me. I do believe I have a responsive administration. When somebody calls me and asks about this or that, absolutely, positively I will send that to the appropriate department head and follow up on that.”
Turner says he’s been to almost 1,400 homes.
“I enjoy talking about the city of Munford. I love the city of Munford,” Turner said. “I like hearing people’s ideas on what we need to do different. That’s what a public servant is supposed to do. You talk to the people, you bring it back and you try to make it happen. I try to make Munford the place people want it to be.”
Turner said poor drainage is something a lot of people he has met like to talk about. He said the city has a drainage maintenance plan instead of a drainage improvement plan.
“About every neighborhood I’ve been to somebody mentions we need more drainage in Munford,” Turner said. “I want to work with federal and state agencies to come up with a drainage improvement plan.”
Just like 12 years ago, the choice seems pretty clear. Do voters want change or do they believe Cole has the city heading in the right direction?
“He’s only had one opponent in 19 years and that’s why I’m running,” Turner said. “I’m running to give people a choice. I think people need a choice every time they vote and they need a good choice. This year they have two people and they really need to think about who they’re going to vote for.”
“Twenty years, that’s a long time to serve, absolutely, positively,” Cole said, “but I have a lot of things that remain to be worked on and completed and I want to see them through.”