A Penny's Worth

22 Year Old Mayor, Corey Harbison

22 year old Corey Harbison is a police officer, business owner and mayor of the town of Good Hope, Alabama.

» Quotes by Corey Harbison

What motivated you to seek the office of mayor and how do you juggle your private interests with your public responsibilities?
It was a hard decision for me to make. I have lived in Good Hope my entire life and have always been involved in the community. The thought of running for mayor crossed my mind while I was still in high school. I pondered on the idea for three years until election time and decided to toss my name into the hat. One thing any leader of a community has to remember is no matter if they are at their office or at the local station it is a 24/7 role one plays and people are always watching. All of my actions in one way or the other is a reflection on Good Hope. When I put on my mayor’s hat, I have no private interest. I am not there to represent myself or just a select few. I do my best to make decisions that will benefit the majority of our town.
What are a city's sources of revenue and how are they spent in a way that the residents' interests are better served with the money under the city's stewardship than the residents'?
We have several means of income but, our main source of income comes from local sales tax. I have been in office almost a year, during this time I have paved many roads that were in severe need of repair, lowered business license to promote a business friendly community, helped the senior citizens of our community start a senior center, and several other things that has been a benefit to the entire community. I also try to use local companies when we have to call for a special project that our employees can not do.
The great political challenge has always been in ensuring that the government serves its people rather than being served by them. How can it be ensured that a city's government acts in the best interests of its residents?
As Mayor I am working for a few thousand people. It is going to be hard to do exactly what everyone wants of me. The best way for any citizen to be involved is to come to council meetings and stay up to date on the current events for the town. I am always willing to listen to ideas from anyone. If I agree with them I will adapt our goals to sever the matter. If I do not agree I will explain my reasons. It makes my job harder if citizens do not stay involved or let me know about things they believe will better the community.
People are less careful in spending somebody else's money than they are in spending their own. How do you avoid the temptation to spend the city's revenue as though it belongs to somebody else?
We are working with such a small amount of revenue coming into City Hall we have to spend frugal and make sure the money we do spend is spent in a way that we benefit the majority of our citizens.
It's cheaper to allow good morals to govern people than to rely on a heavy law enforcement presence to do so. What role does a city's culture play in its crime rate and citizen safety?
Good Hope does not have it own Municipal Police department. We are lucky and have a low crime rate. I do believe Morals play a major role in our society. Over a century ago there was a church that settled in a community that was un-named at the time. They needed a name for the church so they named it Good Hope Baptist. The name stuck with the community. Since then several other churches have come into the Good Hope area helping with the Morals and attitudes of the locals.
Generally, businesses are good for a city's financial health, while charities and churches are good for its moral health. How can a local government best balance a city's business interests with its civic interests?
One of the ways to promote our community to a potential investor is to show them our low crime rates, and good clean surroundings. Our community is a dry community. We do not have to worry about seeing a bar on every corner. This is great for businesses that are good family places. Our local churches play a major role in keeping our community the good clean place it is.
A city is only as good as its citizens and businesses. How can a city attract good citizens and businesses?
Offer good services on both the residential and commercial side.
China has been described as both America's strategic partner and its strategic competitor. Do you view neighboring cities as strategic allies or strategic competitors and can you describe the city's relationship with them?
In Cullman County we have a scale to share our sales taxes with each other so when a neighboring city benefits by bringing in new business revenues we all benefit. I want Good Hope to grow so we have plenty to offer our citizens but, we will not be at war with any other City in Cullman for business.
Politics is a prime example of the "perception=reality" equation. How do you balance being effective with the need to be seen as effective?
Every politician whether they are in Washington or on a local level live life in the public eye. It is very important to remember the importance of keeping a good clean reputation. Strength is in numbers and if you are being perceived as being effective, you will find it easier to actually be effective because everyone wants to be on the winning team.
A politician's job is only as secure as his popularity rating is high. Does the importance of pleasing voters inhibit your ability to speak candidly?
I always go with my gut feeling. Although I may not always make the right decisions I will try my best to do what is best for our town. If a decision I make or something I say cost me an election, I will be able to live with it as long as there are good morals behind it and I honestly felt like it was the right thing to do.
As a leader, is your role to do the will of the people or to do what you believe is in the best interests of the people?
I will always do what is in the best interest of the people. The will of some people may not be what is best for the whole community.