The biggest reason behind First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton’s decision to seek a third term is the desire to represent those whose concerns generally go unnoticed.
“People who don’t have a voice should have a voice downtown,” said Crayton, who has represented the central-city ward
since 1999. She hopes that in a third three-year term she can boost awareness of the financial challenges First Ward residents face.
“I’d like to see some more economic issues for my area brought up,” she said. “We need economic stability in this area, and not just government programs. We’re starting to turn around, but we need some jobs here.”
Crayton said unemployment is a major problem among her constituents. “According to the city, the unemployment rate is fine,” she said, “but for us, it’s higher.”
Crayton said she doesn’t think the city is doing anything about it. She believes there are other issues the government overlooks.
“I brought up many issues,” she said. “They never talked about the drug problem. Housing is another important issue. I bring up issues that affect us every day and affect me every day.”
Crayton mentioned the formation of the YouthBuild program as a benefit of her work on the council. Teenagers and young adults in the program build houses for the homeless and for low-income families while attending high school or working toward a general equivalency diploma. The participants learn job skills while also getting an education.
Crayton might see some competition in the election. John Clark, president of the North Central Neighborhood Association and former mayoral candidate, said he’s had some encouragement to become a candidate.
“I really don’t know (whether I will run.) The only thing I’ve done is find out the deadline for the petitions,” Clark said. “Several people have suggested that I run, but these have come third-hand.”
Though Clark has spoken to no one directly about a council bid, he offered advice to would-be supporters. “If you want me to run, you better call or tell me. Let me know why.”
As for Crayton’s performance in the office, Clark said he thinks that she has left some things to be desired.
“I would have hoped she would have worked closely with four active neighborhood associations to develop an agenda for the First Ward,” he said. “That has not happened at all.”
To be certified as candidates for the council, those interested must collect at least 50 signatures from registered voters in their wards. Petitions remain available, and the deadline for submitting them is Jan. 20. City Clerk Sheela Amin said that to date, five people have picked up petitions, including Crayton and Fifth Ward Councilman John John, who has said publicly he will not run again. Petitions can be picked up on behalf of another person.