It’s a crowded field of candidates vying for the position of Selma mayor.
Five candidates are in the running — Ward 3 Selma City Councilman Greg Bjelke, incumbent Mayor George Evans, Baptist minister Jerria Martin, State Rep. Darrio Melton and former Selma mayor James Perkins Jr. — and Selma residents had the opportunity to hear from each of them at a political forum Sunday afternoon at Selma High School.
There, all five candidates shared their platforms and took turns answering questions for 90 minutes.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said incumbent Mayor George Evans. “We need some infrastructure changes and street paving, and stuff like that doesn’t come overnight. And so, it’s just going to take a bonafide effort from the citizens of Selma along with city government, education-wise along with industry to build our city. And it can be done.”
First elected in 2008, Evans defeated then-incumbent James Perkins Jr., who is making another go for the post. Since his time in office, Perkins became the pastor of a Selma church.
“This is just an opportunity for me to share experience, knowledge about what’s going on in our community to help build Selma,” Perkins says.
Another mayoral hopeful at the forum was State Rep. Darrio Melton.
“Our city is crumbling at its foundation,” Melton told the crowd. “I have experience, I have relationships both in the federal and state level that I think I can use in regards to building our city and moving our city into the 21st century.”
Despite her lack of political experience, Jerria Martin, 28, brought youthful energy to the forum.
“Even our motto is, ‘From Civil War to Civil Rights and Beyond,'” Martin said. “But my question is, when are we going to get to the beyond? I think it’s time for this younger generation to rise up and be that beyond, and lead us to that beyond.”
Selma City Councilman Greg Bjelke said he wants to do more for the city.
“I felt as if I was sitting on my hands, and show up to the meetings and yay and nay and go to ribbon cuttings, and that’s all very nice and all, but I wanted to more,” Bjelke, who’s been sitting on the city council to 2011, said.
Sponsored by “One Selma,” the event was moderated by WAKA news anchor Darryl Hood and was followed by a city council forum as voters in the Black Belt’s largest city prepare to cast their ballots in the state’s municipal elections Aug. 23.