by Brian Lamar, Assignment Editor
Long Beach Ward 2: Bernie Parker v. Shane Walker
Not all heroes wear capes. Some put on slacks and ties and sit through countless hours of mind-numbing alderman meetings in the hopes that they can just do some good.
In the case of Bernie Parker, the incumbent who is running for Alderman of Ward 2, that is what he set out to do back in the 90s.
“I am a life-long resident who was born and raised here in Long Beach. At the time I got into politics, I felt that the people of ward 2 were not being represented as well as they could have been, so I got involved,” said Parker who worked for 30 years at Stennis Space Center, served eight years in the Marines and has just completed his 16th year in local politics.
Parker, served four years in the 90s and then got out of politics for a while. It wasn’t until 2009 that Parker came back in on a ticket of pro-gaming, not because he personally believed gaming was good for Long Beach, but because he felt compelled to represent the people of his Ward appropriately.
“The majority of the taxpayers voted in favor of a casino after Katrina. I am compelled to do what the majority of the voters want. With that decision though, my main focus is to make sure that we are getting everything we can for the taxpayers. I am going along with it because the people voted it in,” said Parker who claims that his focus is continuously keeping the citizens of Long Beach’s needs and wants first.
One of Parker’s main areas of effort in the near future is what has been known as the “Gateway Project”.
The Gateway Project is a beautification effort by the city to attract more motorists to downtown Long Beach off of Highway 90.
The plan is to increase daily revenue to local businesses through this venture. Parker also has other lines of effort as well.
“The other thing I look at is drainage within the city. We got a $1.5 million grant and we are still working on that in other areas of the city. Paving roads is a priority too and we will continue to look at the ones in dire need first. Richard Bennett helped us secure money. We did the parking lot of the highschool and other areas already,” said Parker.
During the recent debates, the goal to increase small businesses was a hot topic.
Parker hopes to install and utilize a plan to provide targeted tax incentives to encourage new businesses to long beach.
“You are elected to represent the people in your ward, you should be thinking about the taxpayer on everything you vote on for the people of long beach,” said Parker. “I’ll continue to dedicate efforts to improve the youth and senior programs in our school system and I strongly support our 1st responders. I pledge to the citizens of Long Beach that they will be first so our town can prosper for the future of our children and our grandchildren,” Parker said.
Shane Walker has solid plans for the future of Long Beach. He wants improved drainage. He wants more safety and security for Long Beach and he wants to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Long Beach.
According to Walker, the future of Long Beach should also be tied with the past.
One of Walker’s stances during his campaign has been to attract more geriatric care for the City of Long Beach area. He says there are no dedicated doctors available for specific geriatric needs and that requires a segment of Long Beach’s elderly population to go elsewhere for proper care. Walker also has plans to try and attract a developer who would be interested in building a gated community for elderly patients with some assisted living care facilities as well.
Although Walker has stated that he is for casino development, he also realizes that the safety and security of Long Beach residents is paramount.
“A casino would bring in certain bad elements. I am interested in the safety and security of Long Beach. I am a big supporter of our first responders and I would want to ensure that we as a city will work to keep Long Beach safe,” said Walker.
Walker, being a medical care professional, is very concerned with the safety of residents and would like to see improvements in sidewalks on major thoroughfares.
“As an EMT, I have seen what happens to people when they are hit by a car. It isn’t pretty,” said Walker.
Walker plans to channel the emotions left over from losing patients who have been hit by cars to motivate him while in office to improving pedestrian avenues.
“I am serving with the mind of God and the country first. As a husband and a father and a property owner in Long Beach I am aware of the problems and issues that affect me and others around me and will be able to work with the other alderman in the city to solve these problems and fill the needs of Long Beach as a whole,” said Walker.
Although Walker is supportive of developments like the casino along with his trepidation for security and safety, he wants to keep the essence of Long Beach alive and intact for the future.
“I want to balance keeping Long Beach’s hometown atmosphere with opportunities that will continue to help Long Beach stay economically viable and successful in the future. I want to be able to provide the needed services and amenities for our area by being open-minding and listening to the citizens,” he added.