“I want to represent the people,” said Phillip Gay, 62, a candidate for City Commissioner Ward 2 in the Feb. 13 city election.
Gay, who is retired from his 37 years working at Whirlpool in Fort Smith, said he is a native of Sequoyah County and his family goes back generations in the community.
“My great-grandfather had a store in 1912 in the community,” he said. “It was the second store in the community.
“I felt like it was time to give back to the community,” Gay said.
Gay said the three most important issues for Sallisaw are jobs, lower taxes, and activities for children. He would also like to see the downtown area brought up to date.
“My two kids had to move off to get good jobs,” Gay said.
His daughter, Amye McCarley, now lives in Fort Smith and serves as an insurance specialist at Mercy Hospital, and his son, Jesse Gay, lives in Jonesboro, Ark., where he is an operations manager for TrinityRail and a Pentecostal minister.
About lower taxes, Gay pointed out that many residents are on fixed incomes and must constantly adjust their budgets to make ends meet.
About children’s activities, Gay said he wants to see modern and expanded activity sites.
“That is the same swimming pool I swam in,” he said, suggesting a new swimming pool for kids.
About specific issues, Gay said the following.
-About modernizing the city’s wastewater treatment plant, Gay said, “I don’t know how we’d pay for it. It is a necessity. We have to have it.”
Gay said, if elected, he would study the issue in depth.
-About enticing new business and industry to the city, Gay said, “I have people telling me new businesses have a hard time locating in town.”
He said one man who wanted to open a business faced so many expensive city building regulations that he plans to move his new business outside city limits.
City regulations and fees, Gay said, “Need to be mapped out, made more clear. Poteau and Stilwell have took off (economically). We need to see what they are doing and do some research on the rules and regulations.”
-About the city charter, Gay said that, if elected, he would have to do more research on updating the charter.
-About utility rate hikes, Gay said there should be no increases.
-About food trucks in town, Gay said, “I think they are good, but some businesses don’t want the competition.”
Gay said one of the best things in Sallisaw is the police department’s Halloween on Elm Street. He would also like to see businesses such as a skating rink, a bowling alley and a new movie theater locate in Sallisaw.
“And I’d love to see the racetrack reopen,” he said. “We ran a few Thoroughbred horses.”
But Gay said the trip to Claremore to race at the Cherokee Nation’s Will Rogers Downs was too inconvenient and costly. He said the Blue Ribbon Downs property could host a variety of businesses.
“It had a lot to do with our economy,” Gay said.
And Gay said he would help the chamber because “More business means less taxes.”
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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