Photo by Jon Anderson
Arnold Singer July 2016
Arnold Singer is seeking Place 3 on the Hoover City Council.
Arnold Singer has been a regular at Hoover City Council meetings for years, and now he wants to have a seat at the table.
Singer, a 79-year-old resident of The Overlook on Riverhaven condos in Riverchase, is running for Hoover City Council Place 3 against John Lyda in the Aug. 23 election.
The retiree said he decided to enter the race in July after watching the City Council give in too easily in negotiations with a Florida company that was chosen to manage Hoover Metropolitan Stadium and the new $80 million sports complex being built next to it.
He thought the council should have limited the contract to three years instead of five years from the grand opening of the last outdoor event competition area (which means the contract is estimated to run through roughly February 2023).
He also thought the council almost gave in too easily on restrictions to keep the company, Sports Facilities Management, from managing competing facilities within 100 miles.
The council bungled the new sports complex from the beginning, Singer said.
“The cart came before the horse. There should have been a feasibility study to start with,” he said. “There should have been honesty to start with.”
The sports complex is making up for 10-15 years of limited maintenance and construction of sports facilities in the city, Singer said. He has a lot of questions about it, such as how much local sports groups will actually get to use the new fields, tennis courts and indoor event center, he said.
“That’s going to have to be a money-making proposition,” which means use by people from outside the city, Singer said.
He has confidence in the ability of Sports Facilities Management to manage the facility and bring in users, he said. “They’re the key to digging us out of the hole that we’re in.”
Singer also said he’s tired of watching the City Council members treat the public with disrespect when people speak to them at meetings. “Do they take special classes to look and nod and not respond?” he said.
If he’s elected to the council, he will treat people with respect and not be condescending, he said.
His priorities as a councilman would be to help create and adopt a master plan for the city, develop a close and respectful (but not rubber-stamp) relationship with the Hoover school board, increase funding for Hoover City Schools and make sure city staff are trained well enough to replace retiring top-level administrators.
Singer is one of the few council candidates who have given a specific solution to address school funding issues. He said he favors increasing the sales tax by .0025 percentage points, which would raise an estimated $5 million a year, and designating that money for Hoover schools.
The Hoover City Council in 2008 cut funding for Hoover schools significantly — from $7.5 million a year to $2 million. The school system had received $85.6 million from a Jefferson County bond issue, so city officials said the schools didn’t need as much from the city anymore.
Schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy said that money from the county essentially is gone now, and the school board needs more revenue. Singer said the school system already is having to eliminate programs, which hurts the quality of the system. Plus, at some point, more money will be needed to build another school, he said.
Singer also regularly attends Hoover Board of Education meetings and has been a frequent attender at Hoover Library Board meetings. He applied for appointment to the Hoover school board in 2014 but was not chosen.
Love of local government
He has long had an interest in local government. When he lived in Edison, New Jersey, he was the principal technical coordinator for the Edison Township. He ran unsuccessfully for the Edison Town Council and twice for an elected seat on the Edison Board of Education.
He never won an election but has maintained his love for local government. “I think it’s a great way to be involved,” he said. “I’m willing to step up and try to be part of the solution.”
Singer said he’s proud of his age. “I’m looking forward to being the oldest and grayest and most experienced in life of anybody on the council,” he said.
He grew up in Manhattan, New York, and then lived in Queens, Brooklyn and Edison, New Jersey before moving to Hoover about 8 ½ years ago.
In addition to his work with the Edison Township, he was the proprietor of AIM-UP, a company that wrote technical manuals, and he produced custom software for small and medium-sized businesses and hardware/software systems.
Singer attended Hunter College and New York University Management Institute in New York City and the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
He currently is board president for The ARC of Shelby County group that helps people with developmental disabilities; a board member for the Hoover Historical Society; vice president of programming for the Friends of Hoover civic group; and a member of Shelby County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
He is a former secretary for the Hoover Metro Kiwanis Club, a former stage manager for Celebrate Hoover Day, has volunteered at the SEC Baseball Tournament and Regions Charity Golf Classic, assisted the city of Hoover with the U.S. Census and is a board member for the Alabama Civil Ware Roundtable.
To find out more about Singer, visit his Why Singer for Place 3? Facebook page.