Photo by Dan Starnes
Bruce Limbaugh and Wife
New Homewood City Council President Bruce Limbaugh, pictured here with his wife Debbie on election night, begins his term in office this month.
As newly elected Homewood City Council president Bruce Limbaugh enters his first term, the importance of communication – with both Council members and residents – will be his guide, he said. Amidst wispy but rampant allegations of arrogance and political manipulation surrounding the council, Limbaugh said both he and Homewood are ready for clarity in local government.
“I know the best and quickest way to earn respect is through transparency in communication,” said Limbaugh. “The reality is, we’re not going to provide the answer everyone wants to hear 100 percent of the time, but we are going to provide an answer.”
After qualifying to run less than a week before the cutoff, Limbaugh received 57 percent of the vote in the August General Election to defeat his opponent, 12-year council veteran Jackie Langlow. His platform focused on his successes in the public and private sectors as well as strong positions on encouraging and including resident participation in local government.
Specifically, Limbaugh said he wants the council to focus on faster responses to resident communication and aggressively fill open positions on committees and boards. At the same time, he plans to weigh the need for some boards against their effectiveness or importance to city operation.
Beyond the walls of City Hall, Limbaugh, 60, owner and president of Limbaugh Toyota, is focused on Homewood’s economy. For the past 10 years, Limbaugh served as a member of the Homewood City Schools Board of Education and was president for the three of those years. During that time he was a proponent for the development and implementation of a strategic plan for Homewood schools that took effect in 2007. He said that during this term he intends to pursue a strategic plan for the city as well, one that takes a long look at options for certain areas.
“I want to look at what we can do around the Green Springs and Wildwood areas, and it certainly needs to be businesses that step in rather than non-businesses,” he said. “I don’t pretend to have the answers. I think I’ve got the questions. And I think to get those areas going it’s going to take reaching out to some expert advice.”
Limbaugh said he has already had discussions with current and incoming council members about developing the plan, as well as implementing citywide neighborhood associations. He wants to be a listener to both residents and members of government and solidly set a tone of communication for moving forward.
Outgoing president Allyn Holladay, a member of the council for eight years who served the past three as president, said Limbaugh is stepping in to an important but gratifying role. She thinks he’ll do well in the position.
“It’s a very big responsibility, and many don’t understand what it takes to run a city with a $50 million budget,” she said. “For me, the challenge has been immense, but this council rose to it and I hope the next will as well.”
Under Holladay’s leadership, the council gained momentum with projects including the building of Patriot Park, the addition of Target to the Brookwood area and the development of a new recreation center for the city. And while the latter has been a point of contention for some Homewood residents, Limbaugh said he sees many positives in the project.
“My grandchildren use the pool, and young moms love having that as a place to go during the summer,” he said. “I think there will be some neat features in the new building that will make it an ideal location for get togethers, and I think that has some real value.”
But, as Limbaugh comes in at the close of planning for the center, he and other incoming members will have little to do with decisions about the facility beyond selecting contractors from solicited bids. He said he wished the project had cost less than the proposed $16.5 million, which he added could limit opportunities for his administration to tackle other projects around the city. He also said that his other wish was for an Olympic-size pool that could host swim team competitions.
“I think that frankly those decisions have been made by the previous council though, and I respect that,” Limbaugh said. “In my mind that ship has sailed.”
As he takes his place this month at the head of the council, Limbaugh said his only hope is to make the best of his decision to run – one he said was made neither in haste nor on his own. To him, taking on the role of president is a family affair, as his wife, Debbie, was extremely supportive of his determination to make Homewood a better place for their children and grandchildren who reside in the city.
“If you asked me really why I’m doing this, it’s because I deeply love all my grandchildren, and I want to build a deep change in our city they can enjoy for many years to come,” Limbaugh said.