Mayor vows to listen to students, seeks their input

Mickey Haddock was sworn in as the new mayor of the city of Florence Nov. 5. Haddock said he intends to work very closely with UNA students to build on their relationship with the city.

“UNA has a tremendous economic impact, as well as a human impact on the city of Florence,” he said. “We need to listen to those students to know their ideas and divisions about the city of Florence because they are going to be our next leaders.”

One example of impact is the continuing improvement of the city’s downtown area as a social gathering place, Haddock said.

“I want to enhance that a little bit and work with the students,” he said. “Maybe we’ll have additional nights for student nights and different things from the city’s aspect.”

The mayor said he believes restaurants have already played a key role in attracting students to downtown and hopes to see more expansion in this area. The city wants to continue learning how to serve the students better, Haddock said.

“I also want to involve them in work with the community,” he said. “If there’s a project that we can do to help the quality of life for an individual in the city of Florence, I’d like to involve the students in that. Put a roof on a house, wash someone’s windows, cut someone’s grass — I’d like to see a joint effort between the students and the city to do things like that.”

Haddock said he also desires to bring more industrial and high-tech jobs into the Florence area for students to take after they graduate.

“We’re very fortunate that our unemployment rates are fairly low, but we can do better,” he said. “I want to get more jobs by bringing some different companies in. I’d love to bring someone in that would set up a company that would explode, like Google or something to that effect.”

Haddock said he will be establishing an advisory board within the next 90 days that will serve to provide the city government with regular information about student life and needs at UNA.

“I want to make sure we do the right thing, so I plan to put one or two UNA students on the board,” he said. “I just want to be a good listener and involve the students in the things that I do.”

The city of Florence’s Web page has been updated for accessibility, and Haddock said he is looking to use social media to interact with students.

“I’m trying to decide exactly how we want to do a Facebook page and I may do a Twitter account, also,” he said. “That would be the easiest way for me to communicate with them.”

Haddock said he and others have already begun working with the Continuing Education program at UNA to develop a curriculum to train municipal workers in customer service.

“When you talk about government, especially in municipal and city government, it’s all about customer service,” he said. “We are hoping to make it a model that other municipalities will buy into and participate in. We are trying to make it innovative.”

Haddock said he is also excited about current expansions at UNA from the Academic Commons building to the future science building and the eventual move to Division I. Haddock said he looks forward to being there for students and serving them as mayor.

“I want students to know that I will be involved,” he said. “Anytime that I have an opportunity to stand before the students, I will make myself available to come. I just want them to know that my door is open.”