HOLLY POND, Ala. – As Holly Pond Mayor Bill Oliver prepares for his retirement, Councilwoman Carla Hart is getting ready to take on the job. Hart, who has served on the council for the past four years in place 2, was unopposed in her candidacy for mayor. The Tribune sat down with her to ask what inspired her to run and what she has planned for her term.
What’s your history in Holly Pond?
“We moved here in 1987. We got here and we realized this is where we belonged. It’s a very friendly town; all the people are just very respectful. It’s a family-oriented town. We purchased a business in Vinemont – a Jet-Pep station – in the early 90s. We ran that business for a while, and just got to know a lot of people countywide who came through there. Then here in Holly Pond, we worked with the main office of Jet-Pep. After that, I was asked by my son who had joined the volunteer fire department if I would join, because my husband was on the road all the time since he drove for Wal-Mart, and I thought that would give me something to occupy my time. I joined and I’m still doing that – I’ve been here 20-something years and I’ve been the assistant fire chief at least 15-20 years. I’ve really enjoyed it, but the older I get the harder it is to jump and run to calls like I used to.
“So I’ve been doing this with the fire department for years, then I was approached to join the Park Board for the parks system, the softball-baseball system that the Town sponsors. I joined and worked with a great group of people – one of them was actually our presiding mayor’s wife, Mrs. Oliver. We worked with the kids, worked the concessions stands, kept the park running from the business aspect of that. I loved watching the kids grow up through the years, and the only reason I got off the Park Board was my father got ill with cancer and I had to go to Florida so much to care for him. So I resigned from the Park Board, but also during my time on the board I was asked to join the Victim Services of Cullman County. I served on the board for a couple years, helping the abused women and children of Cullman County. It was sad, the situations that they were going through, but I loved working with them and seeing that they were taken care of and protected.
“After that, I actually ran a couple times for mayor here in Holly Pond. I had opposition those times and they won, and that was fine. My only objective was that we all have the same thing in common: working for this town and helping it prosper and grow. If they had the same objectives I did, it made no difference to me, didn’t hurt my feelings that I lost. The last four years, I decided to go ahead and put my name in for a council member because I thought that would be a good experience to start with, and I luckily became a council member in 2016. I feel like we’ve done a lot of great things and still have many things that can be done in this town. We have projects that we’re working on now that will take a pretty good while before completion, and I plan on seeing that through. Now, I’ve stepped into this spot without opposition. I would’ve liked to see more interest in people running and becoming candidates, but here I am and I will be taking on this position. I’m proud of it, I’m proud to become Holly Pond’s first woman mayor (or so I’ve been told), and I hope I can serve the town proudly.”
Why did you decide to go into municipal politics?
“I don’t like using the word ‘politics.’ It was just due to the love of the town, the people, the children – that’s why I ran. I know it’s politics, but when you hear someone say ‘politics’ or ‘politician’ they kinda shy away a little. It was just due to the work I’d been doing with the kids and seeing things advancing around town and wanting to be part of it. Anything I can do to help, I was taught to do – to help people while they’re here, what you can do for them, don’t wait ’til they’re gone to send them flowers. I guess that’s what brought me to run, the love of my town.”
What are some goals or projects you have in mind for your time as mayor?
“Right now, I want to see some projects that are currently in the process finished. There’s the sewer upgrade that we’ve been waiting on and getting the grant money finalized for, and the senior center project that Mayor Oliver has started that we will see finished. I’d also like to see a little more updating with the ball parks, and hopefully we’re underway with that with some property we’ve purchased, and we’re trying to talk about more storm shelters in the next year or two.
“As for goals, I will make sure that the monies are budgeted and spent wisely. I’d like to see that our daily business and maintenance is done in a timely manner, and you can never have enough beautification in a town. I’d just like to see the town prosper and become beautiful, encouraging local residents and passers-by to enjoy our town and get those that are passing through to want to come back. Just continuously working to update our town, possibly get new businesses – I know of one vacant building right now where maybe we can encourage some type of business like eating or a novelty shop. We don’t wanna get too big where we’re not a close-knit family, but we do need a little more business and activity in town, so I and my council will encourage that.”
Is there anything you’d like to say to the community?
“I just want the community to know that I’m not afraid of work. I will work very hard toward keeping our town prosperous, safe and beautiful, not only to make our residents proud, but also to have everyone passing through leave here with a smile and brag on us when they go home or visit other places. Our town is made up of all the residents and our governing body, and I want to encourage everyone to come to our monthly meetings. Bring your voice, bring your ideas! I can’t promise anything will happen, but it will give us something new to work with. There’s things that we may not think of that residents are seeing out there, something different and new that they can bring to us and we could see about doing ourselves. But I just want everyone to know I’m gonna do my best to make them proud.”
Hart will take office in November.
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