SELMA, Ala. (WSFA) - Selma Mayor James Perkins held his State of the City address in downtown Selma Thursday night. This was his first State of the City address since being re-elected as Mayor for the third time.
Perkins was elected into office six months ago in October 2020. He held the seat for the first time in 2000 and made history as the first Black mayor of Selma.
The speech was held inside the Selma Convention Center. Those in attendance included the Selma City Council, city department heads, the mayor’s assistants, and first lady Cynthia Perkins. Chairs were socially distanced and the event was not open to the public.
Perkins began by recognizing the numerous challenges the city has faced during his first six months in office.
“In order to understand our progress I need to remind you of where we started,” Perkins said in his opening remarks.
From the COVID-19 pandemic to social injustices and the impact of hurricane Zeta, Perkins said, “none of these crisis have missed Selma.”
“Hurricane winds of Zeta that left us covered with debris of which the city had to upfront funds of over $2 million to clean up,” Perkins said.
Despite the challenges, Perkins acknowledged how each of the city’s 18 departments have come together and overcome despite minimal staffing.
“We have taken what we had, build a team, built a team that would, that would support one another,” Perkins said.
“Much of the work that happens in municipal government the people cannot see it, and unless we share it with them they won’t know,” Perkins said.
Perkins also made it clear that he has a focus on mending the relationship with the City Council.
“I can also assure you that the citizens who elected each of us do not want us to continue the misguided policies and broken relationships that we inherited,” Perkins said. “I am convinced they want us to work together.”
It’s a relationship that newly elected City Council President Warren Billy Young said will result in a more unified Selma.
“The citizens of Selma didn’t elect just one individual, but they elected a unified city government, a city government that’s going to work together and to get things done for the whole and not just one portion,” Young said.
Overall, Perkins left the city feeling motivated to continue to put in what he continuously called “amazing work” and move Selma in a positive direction.
“The state of the city is positive, upbeat, we are moving forward and we are actually fixing things together,” Perkins said.
Amongst the numerous things Perkins highlighted tonight, he said that over the last six months the city has hired seven new police officers, three of which are women. There are nine officers in the hiring process. Perkins said they need nine more officers after that to be fully staffed.
Perkins also said there has been a 40% decrease in major crimes in the city over the past six months.
Perkins added that the personnel department will restart the Summer Youth Employees Program in May.