Meet the Candidates

Here are the full interviews from our recent meetings with Amy Carter and Temple Tutwiler.

Interviewed By Lauren Nix

Voters will determine who will hold City Council Place 1 on Oct. 5. The run-off election is between Amy Carter and Temple Tutwiler with the winner serving a four –year term.  Village Living spoke with each of the candidates to learn more about them and their viewpoints on crucial issues in the community.

Amy Carter

1.  How long have you lived in Mountain Brook?

I lived here when I was a little girl and then I lived here when I was in law school.  I’ve been with my family living in our home in Mountain Brook for close to 14 years.

2.  What about your professional or civic experiences make you a good candidate?

Well first of all I do have a law degree and I do practice law.  Really I’ve been very involved civically with the Junior League.  I was with the Junior League for ten years.  I served on Community Research.  I served on Project Review, in fact I chaired Project Review.  I sat on the executive board for a while until I had to step down for health reasons.  The Junior League has given me great experience working in not just Mountain Brook but also the greater Birmingham area.  As far as in Mountain Brook, I have three children in three different school systems.  One at the elementary school, one at the junior high, and one at the high school and so I’ve been involved with all three of those schools.  I’m just starting to get involved at the high school, my oldest has just started there.  I’m the chair of the Troop Committee, which basically means you’re the CEO of the organization, so I run those committee meetings.  I sit on the church council at Canterbury and I sit on the foundation at Canterbury which is a finance committee dealing with Canterbury’s trust.  I have a wide variety of areas that I’ve been involved in.  Each of my boys plays a different sport so I’ve been involved in the many different sporting aspects, as far as parks and recreation goes.

3.  What would you do first if elected?

One of my main goals is I want to make sure that everyone feels included.  There are certain neighborhoods and areas of Mountain Brook that feel like step-children.  They don’t feel like they’re necessarily heard as well as other areas.  And I’d like to implement some sort of program where everybody knows what’s going on and everybody feels like they are connected.

4.  How do you feel about the Lane Parke development?

I think it’s too big.  I think it’s too dense.  I feel like there’s too much commercial space.  I was disappointed that it was approved as it was approved.  I am all for developing that area but I think it needs to be a responsible development and I think it needs to be a smaller scale commercial development.

5. What would you like to see improved in Mountain Brook?

Communication. Communication through all areas of Mountain Brook.  We are so fortunate here.  We have excellent school systems, excellent fire and police.  And more than anything just the feeling that everybody is included in the City Council decisions.

6.  How do you think the Council should handle the current budget cuts for schools?

I’d have to be more informed.  I’m not as well informed there.  The school board is on its own and the city gives I think roughly 60 percent of its funding and the state gives 40 percent.  I imagine, and I don’t know, but I imagine that the schools will ask for money because of the state cuts.  And I would really just have to be more informed as to where the finances stand.  But I don’t know enough of the specifics.

7.  What is your favorite thing about living in Mountain Brook?

I love the transition between the residential neighborhoods and the villages.  I love the vision of Robert Jemison with the park-like settings of the villages and the neighborhoods.  The smooth transition.  All of our green space that moves from the neighborhoods into the villages.

8.  What would you like to see done in the area of sidewalks & park improvements?

I am all for sidewalks, but I think they need to be done responsibly.  They don’t need to mess up neighborhoods.  In fact, I helped advocate for sidewalks over in the Mountain Brook Elementary area.  I think we do a good job as far as our parks.  I was excited to hear at the City Council meeting about some new park improvements that are going on in the baseball fields.

9.  What do you think needs to be done in order to keep the commercial villages healthy and attract new businesses to the city?

I think that’s where we’re very fortunate in that businesses want to come to us. We don’t have to do a whole lot to attract them.  I do think, and this goes back to the whole Lane Park issue, Mountain Brook village needs to be redone.  It needs to be updated and vibrant because you’re not going to attract new businesses if your buildings are dilapidated and in poor shape.  I think we’re very fortunate in that we don’t necessarily have to provide incentives for anybody to come because people want to be here, merchants want to be here.

Temple Tutwiler

1. How long have you lived in Mountain Brook?

57 years.  I was born here. Raised here. As were my parents and their parents.

2.  What about your professional or civic experience makes you a good candidate?

I have been involved with a lot of organizations for no other reasons that I like to help when I can.  And if I get into a situation where I can’t add anything to the mixture I’ll get out.  Over the years I’ve had the great opportunities to be involved with lots of different organizations.  In Mountain Brook, in particular, I’ve been the Chairman of the Park and Recreation Board.  When I was involved with it we redeveloped Overton Park.  We redid all of the athletic fields. I get a real kick out of driving by Overton Park and seeing all the people out there, and that’s all the reward I need.  I served on bank boards, I’m currently the finance chairman for a commission for Red Mountain Parkway.  I helped raise $4 million for the Botanical Gardens years ago.  I initiated the redevelopment of Linn Park.  I put together a group and said we need to rebuild this park.  I’m Chairman of the Facilities Planning Committee for Children’s Hospital.  I was one of the founding Board members of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and past President.  Operation New Birmingham- I was on their board for years and on the executive committee.  Jefferson County Personnel Board- I was there for six years which was really tough duty.  Fresh Water Land Trust- I’m on their board and I was chairman of the board for two years.  I bring a set of skills to city that I think are very applicable.  I know the workings, I know the mechanics from the experiences I’ve had.  I’m very comfortable with it, I work well with people and I have good judgment and I think that’s what ultimately you want in a politician is someone with good judgment and a sound mind.

3.  What would you do first if elected?

Serve.  I don’t know what kind of issues I’m going to be looking at.  I mean I have a general idea, but I have no preconceptions of what I’ll really be dealing with. I’ll deal with the things that come along.  Mountain Brook is in good financial circumstances now, but it’s not luxurious.  We really do have to watch our finances, as does the school system and every component of the city really has to watch our finances especially in these hard economic times.  I’m really interested in making sure that we maintain our financial soundness.  I’m very conservative about investing other people’s money. I really don’t have an agenda but I think I’m a problem solver and when issues come up I have a lot of experience in dealing with those issues and dealing with people.

4.  How do you feel about the Lane Parke development?

I think that it’s been very very carefully studied by the community.  As a citizen, I went and looked at the proposal well before I even considered standing for office, and I looked at their models.  I went and got their design books and their architectural renderings and their plans and looked at them in great detail, just as a citizen, just out of curiosity to see what I thought about them.  I’m very sensitive to the community; if it’s not broke don’t fix it.  I had these visions of high-rises and all this stuff.  Well, it’s not that way.  I even went so far as to go out and walk the property.  I think it compliments what is there in Mountain Brook village.  I do not think it overwhelms it.  If I thought it was a destructive force I’d be opposing it.  There are still people in our community who think the sidewalks were a bad idea, I don’t think so.  I’m not afraid of change if it’s done appropriately, and I think it’s been done appropriately.

5. What would you like to see improved in Mountain Brook?

I’d love to see our retail base strengthened.  There’s a lot of unoccupied space and I’d love those to be filled with thriving enterprises.  I’d like to do anything we can to encourage it because that tax base is important to our community.  But it’s got to be done correctly.  We definitely need to maintain our great school system because it really reflects on the community and keeps the community the attractive place that it is.

6.  How do you think the Council should handle the current budget cuts for schools?

Carefully.  We should participate when and if necessary.  We all have to tighten our belts and what we really need to do is get the state to perform better at a higher level.  We’re fortunate in that we have a very generous parent population that supports the school systems in all manners of ways.  Our parents are really engaged in their children’s lives and educations, and they take a great deal of the burden.  All of the athletic stuff that they do, all of the booster clubs, it’s really critical in this community.  If the school system gets into a bind and they can prove to the Council that they’ve done all they can, and the Council has the means, then we need to participate.

7.  What is your favorite thing about living in Mountain Brook?

The people.  We have a great population.  And having grown up here for so long, I know a lot of them.  It’s a unique thing in today’s world to have people living in the same place for a long time.  Most people move.  I feel very lucky because I can walk around this community and I see faces and I feel like it’s one big family.

8.  What would you like to see done in the area of sidewalks & park improvements?

We need to do all we can to continue that effort.  It is, to me, it’s still fun for me to drive down Mountain Brook Parkway to see all those people walking out there all the time.  We need to have all of our villages connected by one route.  It’s healthy.

9.  What do you think needs to be done in order to keep the commercial villages healthy and attract new businesses to the city?

I like what has been done around the city as far as signage.  I think we could do better on making our buildings more attractive on their facades.  The villages are unique, they’re not malls, they’re small villages, and we need to keep that uniqueness.  Unique places really fit here and I think we need to maintain that. It really fits the character.

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