By Dixon Hayes
GADSDEN, AL (WBRC) - Voters head to the polls in Gadsden this Tuesday to choose between two mayors. It's basically a rematch of the 2006 mayor's race.
It also comes in the midst of a recession, as Moody's Economy.com lists Gadsden as one of 22 cities in the U. S. "at risk" of a double dip recession.
Incumbent Mayor Sherman Guyton defeated Steve Means in 2006. Since then, he says he's helped keep Goodyear and Keystone Foods in Gadsden, and built a $10 million dollar reserve fund.
"If you don't have a reserve and you hit a bump in the road, then somebody's going to be in trouble," says Guyton. "Now we have a little over ten million dollars, that could go pretty quick if the revenues suddenly, if the bottom dropped out."
Former mayor, Steve Means, who served from 1974 until 1986 and again from 1990 until Guyton defeated him, has a different take. He says money is going into Gadsden City Hall. Nothing is coming out.
"We invested tax money back to the people," says Means, listing among other things, "a brand new Gadsden City High School, a brand new library, we brought Walmart and the Coosa Town Center, we've got riverfront development, we've got the Etowah County Health Center, we redid downtown Gadsden."
Guyton is presiding over the city at a time of a recession, and of the ranking, he believes the city is in better shape than that. The same Moody's article mentions Gadsden's retention of the Goodyear plant as a positive spot. But he adds that a double dip recession would make a reserve fund all the more important.
Guyton also mentions two other national rankings; Forbes listing Gadsden as one of the best places to move, and Expansion magazine ranking Gadsden #11 in the country for best place to expand a small business.
Means says the Moody's ranking, however, represents a failure of leadership. "The reason that they think it will happen is because we have not invested in our community and prepared ourselves for jobs."
Five of the city's seven council seats are also up for re-election. District 1's councilor, Walt Higgins, has chose not to run for re-election.
Council members Robert Avery and Ben Reed had no opposition. They've already been declared the winners of their respective races.