I am running for the office of Centreville Mayor. I grew up here and love my hometown. I want to see it improve in looks and feel and keep that small-town feeling we have when you leave the bigger cities behind. I want a place that is peaceful, quiet and safe. I have lived in other places and have seen what we can be and what we do not want to be. Younger people are moving to rural areas. That small town quality of life issue is vitally important.
I believe when our time on earth is done, all we will have left is our legacy, or what we leave behind us. Will it be a good or bad? Each of us is born with the exact, same chance to succeed or fail. Our circumstances and our family situations may be different but the opportunity to succeed and to make a difference lies within each of us. It doesn’t matter what color we are, what gender we are or what church we belong to. The will to succeed, or not, is up to us as individuals. And the legacy we leave behind is ours to give.
We were lucky as youngsters in Centreville. My grandfather and father, Jim Oakley Sr. and Jim Jr., Mr. Howard Cleveland, Mr. C.E. Hornsby Jr. , Mr. Belcher Hobson, Tharon Camp, the Fuller brothers, as well as Mr. E.C. Downs, R.L. Foster and more were excellent mentors for us boys who hung around uptown. Mr. Tommy Bamberg and Skip at the Feed store were regular listening boards for us. I became a member of the Masonic Lodge as soon as I was eligible and joined the local Kiwanis Club early on. A.C. Harris and Jimmy Lott, one an Air Force and the other an Army Veteran, were mentors who provided invaluable guidance and wisdom.
I served in the United States Army for 39 years, rising to the highest enlisted rank possible, Command Sgt. Major. Seventeen of those years were with the elite 20th Special Forces Group where I totaled over 200 jumps from airplanes and helicopters across the globe. I spent three years away from my family, my friends and my jobs while proudly serving my country. My legacy with the military was one of a super-positive and energetic leader who treated everyone the same, always worked to get better and was the ultimate team player who rose to the top through hard work and integrity. I am proud of that legacy.
In 1992, my wife, Sharon and I married, and we moved to Centreville. I got involved in church, civic and community projects. We became active in our church, Centreville Baptist, where I taught Sunday School, sang in the choir and played in our praise band. I volunteered for the Bibb County Schools Foundation to raise money for teachers and joined the Bibb County Chamber of Commerce. I became a board member of the Foundation and was later elected president of the fund-raising organization. I also became a board member of the Chamber, then after the 9-11 Terrorist Attack and a year-long military deployment I was elected president of the Chamber in 2003. I worked with our board to bring our Chamber back from a very tough economic period. My legacy there was one of civic duty and commitment to making things better. I am vested in the history of our Chamber and am proud of that legacy.
Since 1998, I have served our county on the Board of Education. Many of those years my fellow board members elected me to serve as Board President. I worked hard to be the best Board member I could be, taking advantage of every learning opportunity I could find to be a better board member. I became the first board member in Bibb county history to achieve Master Board Member status, not once but twice. I worked my way up in the state association to District Director, state board member, executive committee member. In 2019 I was chosen by my peers across the state as President-elect of the Alabama Association of School Boards. I have invested hundreds of hours of personal time to attend in-service training to keep up with skills and knowledge needed to be a better board member. No one required me to do that. My legacy there is that when I undertake a commitment, I don’t do it halfway and I don’t do it for myself. I am proud of that legacy.
My wife, Sharon, a longtime RN at DCH, and I were married in 1992 and started raising a family here. We were lucky that we had model parents from which to learn how to act and how to be parents. My wife and I we were committed to being dedicated and supportive parents who would raise our children, Anna-Michael, Trip and Pate, to be independent thinkers who knew how to act in public with good manners and class. There was never a time, outside of my military service, when we were not there to support each of our three children in anything they did, be it softball, baseball, gymnastics, cheer, football or anything else. We were very involved in Upward and Three-Point basketball and flag football, a highlight of all our lives. My legacy from that is one of a dedicated father and family man who was always there and always supportive. I am proud of that legacy.
I have worked at Alabama Power for nearly 20 years in public relations and governmental relations. This has enabled me to cultivate contacts and relationships that will be valuable to our Town as we move forward. Not only have I worked closely with most of our elected officials and economic and community development officials across the state, I know them, and they know me, personally.
My work with major organizations across the state will enable us to be a step ahead of other people and places that must establish those type relationships. My longtime work with the League of Municipalities will enable us to hit the road running with organizational matters. My relationship with the Association of Regional Councils and Resource, Conservation and Development officials as well as my grant writing experience will come in handy when we put plans into place to make great things happen.
We will have a strategic plan moving forward of things we need to do to succeed. I will involve our citizens in listening and focus groups and I will listen to them to see what is important to them. We will have a Beautification Board. I will be active in pursuing businesses that are a good fit for our town that will provide good-paying jobs and needed services and I will continue to be a stellar representative of my community to anyone outside looking at us for signs of progress. We will be a place people are proud to be from. We have a wealth of talent in our young people and many are buying houses and starting businesses. They will be the catalyst to our growth, and we will invest in them.
I want my legacy as mayor of Centreville to be one of continued progress, togetherness, controlled growth, beautification and a feeling of pride of living here. I will continue to work throughout all of Bibb County to make us better than we think we can be.
We are the Jewel of the Cahaba River and can capitalize on our location right along this natural gift from Almighty God. This is a great town with great people who genuinely care about each other and about our town.
I want people to be proud to be from here, proud to live here and proud to move forward, together. Join me in helping to capture the spirit of togetherness and progress as we move forward.