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Cloud seeks historic seventh term

Mayor Pro Tem Ernest Cloud Jr.

Cairo Mayor Pro Tem Ernest Cloud Jr., who had considered stepping down from public service, announced this week he will seek an historic seventh term.
Cloud is not only one of the longest serving city officials in Cairo’s  139-year history, but he also holds the distinction of being the first African-American elected as a city councilman.
“I had thoughts of not running again, but I have had so many people, a tremendous amount of people ask me to run again. The city is in a crucial time right now with regard to budget and finance. I think we have a council and city manager that work well together. I would like to continue to do whatever I can to see the city move forward and progress,” the mayor pro tem said Tuesday.
Looking back over the last quarter century of service, Cloud is most proud of the new Holder Park pool and youth center, the increased number of city streets paved and resurfaced, and the modernization of both the police and fire departments.
“I enjoy helping the people of the city,” Cloud said.
Although the city owned CNS Cable-Internet-Telephone service remains deep in red ink, the mayor pro tem believes that CNS is a great asset for any city. “To be able to offer both cable and Internet services and, now, telephone service to our citizens is great for any city,” Cloud said.
The long serving councilman has seen a lot of change take place within the city over the last 25 years, but he still has goals he hopes to see accomplished in the next four years.
Topping his wish list is the construction of the new elevated water storage tank and drinking water well on the city’s west side.
“We’ve already purchased the land for the tank and I am ready to see construction begin. We also need the new well because, right now, we have all our eggs in the same basket and we need to spread them out,” Cloud said.
Currently all of the city’s drinking water wells are located on the city’s east side near the northeast water plant and elevated tank.
The city recently dug a test well at a site off Wight Road, but it did not produce the volume of water the city desires. No other test wells have been drilled to date.
Another goal of Mayor Pro Tem Cloud is the construction of a new, modern police headquarters. “I would like to see us build a new police headquarters with our own forensic department,” he said.
At the same time, Cloud acknowledges the city must do whatever possible to keep taxes as low as possible.
The District 2 councilman believes the biggest drain on the city’s budget over the next several years will be tackling the storm water drainage issues that exist all over the city.
Cloud is also interested in the city’s participation in the expansion of nuclear Plant Vogtle of which the city is a partner, as it was in the original construction.
“We also need to work in partnership with the Joint Development Authority in attracting new industry to Cairo,” he said.
Despite the sour economy, Cloud boasts that Cairo, unlike some of its neighbors, is not having to lay off employees. “We actually are adding two positions, a police investigator to combat drugs and a new person in the finance department to work with the finance director as well as to serve as a technical support staff person,” Cloud said.
Qualifying for upcoming municipal elections opens on Monday, Aug. 31, at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4.
Elections for mayor, District 2 city council and District 4 city council will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Earlier, incumbents Mayor Richard VanLandingham and District 4 Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas announced their intentions to seek reelection.

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