2020 Municipal Election Candidate Q&A: JoAnn Oakley and Chris Thompson, Vinemont Town Council, place 1

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JoAnn Oakley, left; Chris Thompson, right (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

SOUTH VINEMONT, Ala. – As the Aug. 25, 2020 Municipal Election approaches, The Tribune is holding Q&A sessions between candidates.

In South Vinemont, one race on the ballot will be for town council, place 1. Incumbent JoAnn Oakley, who has served 28 years in the seat, will face political newcomer Chris Thompson.

Why did you choose to run in the 2020 race?

Oakley: “I’m just concerned about our town and I have enjoyed being on the council for what I have. I’m just really adamant about taking care of the town.”

Thompson: “Mainly it’s because I‘ve been here watching for 28 years. I’ve been sitting here and nothing has changed here. Cullman has grown, Good Hope has grown and West Point has, but we haven’t. It’s the same. There’s no excitement at all and I just have a passion that I can make something happen. I see the excitement in people’s eyes at the business I have right now. I know they want change and I know they want excitement. I know they want to grow and progress. To be something they can be proud of. That’s what we are going to do and that’s what we have done here at the Man Cave Market by building something for our residents.”

What would you like to do for South Vinemont in the next four years if re-elected/elected?

Oakley: “I would like to see some more activities and things that could be done here. I would like to see some nice play equipment over at the walking trail. I think more people would use the walking trail if their children had something to do. We really need a trail for them to ride bikes on. We need to put another trail on there, around it, where they can ride bikes but not on the walking trail. There’s really nowhere in Vinemont for folks to ride bikes.”

Thompson: “When you come into Vinemont, it’s just a plain old sign. I want it to be when you come in, I‘d like to have the town hall just totally painted and landscaped where people go, ‘Wow, look at that!’ I want the signs when you come in from all edges of Vinemont to be, ‘Wow, this is a nice little town.’ That’s simple things, but I’d like to see more business coming in from all around. I want people to come from all around, from Huntsville, from Birmingham, to Vinemont for a reason- something to be known and something to be seen. Vinemont is more than just the water tower and the skating rink. I would like to give South Vinemont an identity.”

Are there any specific projects you would like to work on if elected?

Oakley: “The bike trail would be one of my main ones because I have too many people asking me about a place to ride bicycles. There’s other things I am willing to see done in the town. I go along with the full council as much as possible. I guess that would be one of the biggest things, but I would be willing to bring more things. I think we have accomplished a lot for the parks. I am proud of the accomplishments while I have been on the council.”

Thompson: “I want to do a festival for each season. We are going to do that, and one of those is going to stick. One of those will become a yearly thing that people will remember and want to come see.

“The park, they call it a walking trail, we are going to make that a park- lots of trees, disc golf, soccer, volleyball, community garden, benches. Something for people to do and they want to take their kids and family there. We are going to put bridges across the ditch and we are going to make the park beautiful. We want people from Cullman and people from all around to come here. We will be known for our beautiful park.

“If we can find a way to make our (town) bigger and grow. Annexation would be a way, but we need more people. We need to add and generate more business and bring more jobs to Vinemont.”

Why do you think the people of South Vinemont should vote for you?

Oakley: “I’ve lived here all my life and I am interested in what goes on in our town. I have a great interest in this little town. I have lived here since I was a little girl and I have lived here all my life. I know there needs to be changes and I am not saying they don’t. There are things that need to be done. I’ve had kids, grandkids, and I have great-grandkids now. I’d like to see the town kept up and good for the generations to come.”

Thompson: “I’m not a politician. I’m not doing this for recognition or to get a pat on the back. I’m just excited and want to make a difference. It’s just a passion that I have and I am just really, really, really excited. I can’t wait to get started, and I can see the finished product. People want change, excitement and something to be proud of. Let’s make it a new Vinemont. A new way of doing things. A creative way. I’m going to lead by example. Me and my twin brother, we are going to work hard and lead by example. We are going to get the community to come to the council meetings. We want to hear what they have to say, and I can talk to them here and try to generate excitement in the community. Let’s work together, let’s fix it and let’s make it better. If they will give me a chance and vote, we can make a change. We can make it happen.”

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com