Mayor Charles “Sonny” Penhale:
In His Own Words

Together we have created a city that has been thrice recognized nationally as a most desirable place to live and raise a family. I, as your Mayor, have not taken these accolades lightly. Nor do I take lightly the tremendous financial investments you have made in your homes and livelihoods here in Helena. You have held me responsible for protecting those investments, and I will be the first to admit that the last four years have been extremely difficult and exhausting, even for someone with my experience. You see, Helena is unique. The Mayor’s job is unique. There is no prestige attached to the title. The job is a hands-on, 24/7, 365-days-a-year commitment, and it requires a tremendous amount of work and dedication.

Sonny Penhale has brought a High School to Helena AL.In the past few years we have been through the deepest economic recession this country has seen since The Great Depression. Gas prices and the cost of living have soared, and our city budget has been stretched to its limit. I must give our city employees much credit. I have been especially tough on them about spending, and I’ve expected much more from them when they haven’t had raises in years. However, I was determined that their families would not suffer if I could prevent it. Subsequently, we have managed to continue to provide Helena’s citizens the city services they are accustomed to with no lay-offs of any full-time employees. In spite of the tight rein on our city finances some very positive things have come our way, as is evidenced by recent new businesses and the building of our new Helena High School.

As citizens, you have come to expect a lot from what you may not realize is a small budget. Unlike our neighboring cities located on major thoroughfares, Helena is primarily a “bedroom” community with a limited tax base. The recent 1-cent sales tax increase can only be used for our schools, and only 3 cents of each tax dollar goes to our city’s general fund. More businesses in Helena would certainly help, and I wish I could tell you that it is easy to get them to come here, but the simple truth is that it’s all about location. The fact that so much of our population commutes out of the city during the day is a negative in that regard. However, I assure you that I never, and will never stop trying to recruit businesses to our city.

With our 5-mil property tax, which incidentally is one of the lowest in Shelby County, we must depend on many thousands of dollars in alternative funding beyond our budget. This comes in the form of state and federal matching funds, grants, corporate partnerships, corporate donations and the work of countless volunteers. As your mayor, I am constantly pursuing this alternative funding and am fortunate enough to be in a position to know how, where and from whom to get it. I know those in positions to advise me as to when funds first become available, in addition to any other options for me to pursue.

Moreover, as an Advanced Certified Municipal Official and past president of the Alabama League of Municipalities, I am a member of the ALM Executive Committee, which meets quarterly in Montgomery. This is a most prestigious position among our membership, for it places Helena in a “first to know” standing regarding other funding opportunities and pending legislation which might affect our city. The League also provides many services to Alabama municipalities, including Helena, which are too numerous to name here.

Sonny Penhale has saftey of the City of Helena as a top priority!My close connection with the ALM staff and great working relationship with our state Senators and Representatives has been invaluable, particularly in the past four years. I have called upon US Representative, Spencer Bachus’s, office many times, not only for help for our city but for individual citizens as well. Spencer is a good friend and knows how proud we are of Helena. He will always help us in any way he can. I also maintain close contact with Senators Shelby and Sessions through key staff members and meet with them each year at the National Congress of Cities in Washington, D.C. I can assure you that nobody forgets about Helena.

As I said, the Mayor’s job is unique, and unfortunately it carries with it a certain amount of criticism. I try to keep in mind that it is the nature of my job as a public servant to catch the blame for most of what goes wrong whether it is within my control or not. Knowing that most of the criticism is due to a lack of communication and/or knowledge of how Alabama law applies to municipalities, or a misunderstanding of how municipal government actually works, is little comfort. Yet I know that it comes with the territory. I confess to you now that I am not perfect. I make mistakes. But I always strive to correct those mistakes to the very best of my abilities and in a way that is best for Helena and its citizens.

I would like to continue to serve you for four more years. If you will allow me, I will serve with the same passion and dedication for Helena that I have always had. Please support me by coming out and voting on August 28. Let this vote be your way of supporting a city where good things already happen every day.

I appreciate your vote and support!

The last day to register to vote in the election is August 17, 2012. 
Contact the Shelby County Board of Registration at 669-3913 or visit their website:  Residents can check and update their voter registration and download forms online. 
All registered voters currently residing in the Helena city limits for 30 days or longer immediately prior to Election Day will be eligible to vote.

Absentee Ballot
The last day to apply for a regular absentee ballot is August 23, 2012.
Applications are available from the city clerk.

I hope to see you at the polls.


Sonny Penhale
Campaign Headquarters

Hwy 261 Helena, AL  35080

Mayor: Charles W. "Sonny" Penhale

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