1) Alabaster Connection: What inspired you to run for Council, and how long have you served?
Jamie Cole: I was elected in October 2020. My wife Charissa (principal at Alabaster’s Creek View Elementary School) inspired me to run. She’s a tremendous city leader and has made such an impact in the community. I decided in the midst of a global pandemic to run for Council. And there was something about that time that made people open to listening, even if it was at a distance. I have a real passion for communication and how we present ourselves to not just our residents but regionally and to the wider world. I really wanted to work on how our city was perceived and how we communicate. That’s crucial to good, planned growth and economic development.
2) AC: How long have you lived in Alabaster, and where do you live?
JC: Charissa and I have lived in Ward 5 since 2003 and in Alabaster since 1998. We live in the Lake Forest neighborhood. We’re both originally from Florence, but we’ve lived here long enough now that this is home.
3) AC: What committees do you serve on or chair?
JC: I serve on the Public Works committee. A passion of mine is recycling, so I wanted to help educate citizens and help find ways for people to do that within our current setup. I chair the PR & Marketing Committee. That comes from my media background and wanting to communicate better about Alabaster. That has happened through the re-launch of our city magazine, the hiring of our first public information officer, more investment in communication platforms, and an extensive rebranding project.
4) AC: What are the biggest issues facing Ward 5 and the city as a whole?
JC: Ward 5 is primarily neighborhoods, parks, and schools, so it’s traffic, infrastructure projects, and making sure water goes where it’s supposed to go. We’re working on mitigating traffic on Ward 5’s biggest thoroughfares—Kent Dairy Road and County Road 17. We’ve added a traffic signal at the intersection of those two roads. Kerri Pate (Councilmember in Ward 7) had already been working on that, and it‘s the first thing I talked to the Mayor about when I was elected. With a residential area like ours, it would be great for everything to be walkable, and we’re working toward that with the trail project that is already underway. And we’re working with Engineering, Public Works and all the agencies involved to mitigate stormwater issues.
Citywide, I think the first job of any City Councilor is to make sure that our first responders have what they need to keep our citizens safe. We just added a three-percent Cost of Living Adjustment for all city employees while keeping merit raises on the table, which I’m very excited about.
5) What are some things that you and the Council have accomplished that you are proud of?
JC: We’ve increased arts funding in the city by 50 percent. That money supports CityFest, but we also added a fall event, Alabaster Jubilee. We are becoming the southern hub for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. We had our first post-Covid symphony concert in January. We support educational opportunities, and we sponsor arts scholarships for students in Alabaster schools.
As a Councilmember, I’m proud that we’re keeping our employees competitive from a salary standpoint. The re-launch of the city’s official publication, expanded reach on social media, the hire of the city’s first public information officer, and the rebranding, which changes the look of the city for an entire generation, are all highlights so far
I’m excited about the city’s purchase of the old Thompson Intermediate School property with an eye toward making that a family sports and entertainment complex, with a new recreation center and other facilities.
6) AC: How do you feel about the extra year the state added to your term?
JC: I’m actually happy about it because it will give us more time to accomplish these things that we’ve started.
7) AC: Tell us about the return of CityFest.
JC: We’re so excited about being able to do it again. It’s been three years since we’ve had CityFest; our last one was 2019. It is still the largest free event of its kind in the state. And the city’s arts funding along with support from our sponsors allows us to keep it a free event, which has been a priority from the start.
8) AC: What other organizations are you involved in?
JC: Mountaintop Community Church is a big part of my family’s life. I’ve served on the Alabaster Arts Council for about 10 years. I serve on the Alabaster City Schools Foundation Board, and for the past 20 years, I’ve taught at the Alabama Governor’s School where I also serve on the Board. I’m on the board of directors for the American Agricultural Editors Association.
8) AC: Tell us about your day job and your family.
JC: I’m a partner in a small content creation and marketing firm called Red Barn Media Group. Our company primarily serves the agriculture community. Unless I’m on the road with work, I’m working from home in Ward 5 every day. Charissa and I have a son, Sullivan Thomas who will be in the ninth grade at Thompson High School. He plays in the band and on the football team. My wife and I both came from music, and I play in an 80’s tribute band called the M80s, along with playing almost every Sunday at Mountaintop.