Jenny Folsom announces bid for re-election to Cullman City Council, place 5

Dr. Jenny Folsom (contributed)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman City Council President Dr. Jenny Folsom on Tuesday announced her bid for re-election to Cullman City Council, place 5. The Municipal Election will take place Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.

Below is Folsom’s announcement:

Dr. Folsom has served on the city council for 12 consecutive years.  Folsom’s position on the city council is place 5 which oversees finance, economic development and various other administrative affairs. 

Folsom has been a lifelong learner, educator and servant-leader.  She is a graduate of Cullman High School.  From there she obtained her bachelor’s from Auburn University, a master’s from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a doctorate from the University of Alabama.  Folsom served as an educator for 34 years, 22 of which were at Wallace State Community College, Hanceville, retiring as vice-president and dean of academic affairs.

“Public service, like education and the ministry, is a calling,” said Folsom. “It is not something that you can just wake up and decide this is what I am going to do today.  You have to be led, and most importantly, you have to be willing to learn from mistakes, listen to others and carry oneself with respect.  My entire life has been built on serving the community.  The big picture is always the same: putting others first, placing ourselves last.”

During Folsom’s tenure on the city council, she has been a part of many progressive decisions here in Cullman.  In the parks and recreation department, Cullman now has community parks throughout the city that are updated and equipped so that each park is inclusive of all children.  There have also been various leagues and events established for those with disabilities which was not an option before. 

“Our parks department is, by rank, one of the top in the U.S.,” Folsom said. “Our facilities have become a place where people of all ages, backgrounds and needs can come and enjoy a top quality of life experience.  That experience was built upon a foundation of compassion by the citizens of Cullman.”

Being over the economic development side of the city council, Folsom has seen Cullman through the times of the Great Recession where unemployment was high, jobs were scarce and layoffs were common.  Times when families did not necessarily live paycheck to paycheck, but they worried from paycheck to paycheck, times when families questioned how bills would be paid and times when moms and dads took second jobs to provide. Prior to COVID, she had seen Cullman reach its lowest unemployment in the history of Cullman, receive the highest capital investment amount and see the largest number of business and industry expansions. 

“Even when we were faced with the hard times, be it the recession or the tornadoes, the people of Cullman faced everything head on, united, and with a deep resolve,” she said. “That same resolve is present today.  That is what makes Cullman special and unique.  If you could take the compassion and resolve of our people, bottle it up, and give it out, you could change a lot of what we see today in our Nation.

“The backbone of Cullman lies in our citizens who go to work every day, who struggle to balance their family and jobs, and who must always be a part of the decision-making process in this town.”

Even being part of such a large financial and economic leap during her time on the council, Folsom said that the recent events of the COVID-19 virus have made everyone stop and reassess the pathway forward ensuring that it is the best for the health and safety of the citizens of Cullman while continuing Cullman’s economic growth. 

“Before mid-March we were not familiar with terms such as COVID-19, social distancing, flatten the curve, PPE, Zoom, etc.,” said Folsom. “These terms are now part of our daily lives and have challenged all levels of government, the medical community, the business community, our school systems and every aspect of our lives and livelihoods.”

Folsom stressed that there will be challenges and opportunities to make lasting decisions these next four years.  She feels that in order to best assess these community needs, we need to make our choices based on experience and results so that our community is not forced to begin down a different, unprepared pathway which will put us behind rather than ahead.

Upcoming challenges that she expects to see will be infrastructure issues to address traffic congestion, city school infrastructure, and assisting with revitalizing the local business community.

“The most important element to addressing each of these is a willingness for all sides to be represented and begin open, constructive, and frequent dialogue in order to develop a plan that best serves all people.  Communication can be our greatest asset, or our biggest downfall.  I can promise you this: there are solutions to each challenge we will face; we just have to work together, collaboratively, to find the solution. Most of all, we cannot expect to place any more financial burdens on our citizens,” said Folsom.

“Our community has historically built a foundation of being economically healthy with a strong and resilient workforce, a top-scoring school system, and a great quality of life for all.  We will continue to work diligently as we face these challenges and navigate these unprecedented times. I am encouraged about the future of Cullman because I know the strength of our citizens, and I believe what my Dad used to say, ‘When the times get tough, the tough get going!’”

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Wendy Sack