The Mayor of the city of Hartselle sits at his desk at City Hall. Garrison became Mayor last November after serving as publisher of the Hartselle Enquirer for several years. | Caleb Suggs

A day in the life

A day in the life takes a look at Mayor Randy Garrison

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

This week’s day in the life takes a look at the Mayor of the City of Hartselle, Randy Garrison. Randy spent several years working right here at the Hartselle Enquirer Newspaper, first as an ad salesman and then as publisher, before taking over as Mayor last November.

Being the Mayor means working in a job that is different from day to day. “Each day is a little bit different,” Garrison said. “You never know what the day is going to entail.” Unless he has meetings, typically Garrison starts the day the same way, which is by greeting all the office staff and reading through newspaper.

He also tries to make sure each day, no matter what he is doing, that he does something to promote the city. “I try to spend sometime promoting the city each day; even if it’s just going out and taking a picture of something that’s going on,” Garrison said. “I try to walk downtown, even for lunch, and speak to businesses there, as well as take a tour of other businesses and industries as they allow.”

Garrison’s workdays can vary not only day by day, but also week by week. “It varies by week, because some weeks I have a lot of meetings to attend.” Garrison is on several boards and has to attend meetings for these, which include the North Alabama Mayor’s meeting, Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting, Chamber of Commerce and also holds a department head meeting each Tuesday with each department head in the City of Hartselle.

The mayor also spends time each several days each week working the city’s budget. He signs all the checks and looks to see what the expenses were. He also approves any expenditure requested by the city departments. While the mayor works within the city’s budget, he is only allowed to spend funds already approved in the budget; any expenses that are excess or outside the budget have to be approved by the city council.

Garrison plays a hand in helping move new businesses into Hartselle. The Zaxby’s and Arby’s currently being built were already started before he took office, but Garrison is still working to help bring in more. Generally to get the process started the city has to have the property first. Once they have it, they work with a developer to get it ready. However, there are instances in which the city is aware of a certain business that wants to move into Hartselle and they actively pursue a location to locate the business.

Since becoming Mayor, he has had to work with something that no other Mayor of Hartselle has had to do. At the same time that he took office, the city of Hartselle elected to go allow the sale of alcohol. Garrison has been involved with the alcohol license approvals and watching the revenue that is coming in. Also, he is making sure Hartselle does not lose the appeal that made it special in the first place. “We only allow restaurants and other businesses to advertise alcohol sales inside the location, no outside advertising, such as banners or signs outside the business,” Garrison mentioned. “Also, we were able to pass a very strict alcohol policy to control what types of business are allowed to sell, as well as open in Hartselle.”

Garrison also spends plenty of time trying to make himself a better mayor. To help with this he attends conferences as they are offered. “I’m still learning, anytime there is a conference I can attend that will be beneficial to Hartselle I go.” Garrison said. “This is on the job training, no textbook or manual is available, but you can depend on the experience of city employees with years of experience.” He attended a conference for new mayors last fall in Tuscaloosa that offered training in retail development.

While working as mayor, Garrison makes sure he is still active in the extracurricular activities he was a part of before becoming mayor, including Rotary, Kiwanis and Lion’s Club. The groups play a role in helping raise money for scholarships and to help people in the community.

Garrison takes pride in being an active mayor and a mayor that listens and tries to help the citizens of Hartselle. “I work with Facebook a lot, not only to share information, but communicating as well. I get messages from people and I try to respond and look for solution ways to their issues they may be having.” Garrison said. “For example, if someone has a pothole on their street and they message me, I will go look at it and then contact the public works director and try to figure out a solution.” Garrison continued. “I always take calls from anyone and listen to their issues, good or bad,” Garrison said. “Also, if someone comes to see me at the office I make sure to sit and talk with whoever it may be, my office door is always open.”

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