IT WAS expected that District 4 Alderman Nick Palumbo would run unopposed this year, but Calum Crumpton made sure that wouldn’t happen again.
“I don’t think that’s fair because the fourth district didn’t really have a choice,” Crampton tells me at the Mother Mathilda Beasley dog park as his five rescue dogs play in the sprinkling rain. “I thought about running for a long time, probably over a year ago once I heard the elections were coming up.”
A longtime Savannah resident who attended both public Savannah High and private Savannah Christian, Crampton has worked in blue-collar jobs and is ready to take on City Hall.
Palumbo’s popularity in his district is in large part due to his presence on Facebook, where he’s quick to respond to constituent concerns. But Crampton says that his own posts have been removed from the chats because the moderators are pro-Palumbo.
“They have Nick Palumbo signs in their yard,” he says. “It’s clear to me that they delete any derogatory comments.”
Crampton also points out a lack of forums for the Fourth District, which he thinks is because the sitting alderman is seen as being overwhelmingly popular.
“I go to people with Nick signs because I’m trying to get an understanding of why they support him,” he says, “and I’m getting responses that are like, ‘Well, I just do.’ I find that interesting. ‘He likes the neighborhood.’ Well, so do I. If you support somebody, I would think you would be able to articulate to somebody why.”
Crampton believes that what a candidate doesn’t say speaks volumes more than what they do.
“You look what at Nick talks about, but what does he not talk about? He doesn’t talk about these developments, he doesn’t talk about the police or crime, he’s talking about the literal part, like drainage, which is just a line item in the budget,” he says.
Crampton criticizes Palumbo’s vote to remove the protections on three buildings on the south end of Forsyth Park and calls out the alderman for supporting wealthy, out-of-town entities.
He would like to see more creative thinking from the incumbents when facing city issues.
“A lot of the solutions are tax and spend: we just throw money at a problem and hope to fix it,” he says. “Well, what if they problem takes more than money?”
He cites the police morale issue under Chief Roy Minter as one such example: he questions why the City would bring in a chief from out of town rather than promoting an officer who’s been with the department for a long time. (That is eventually what the City did by promoting current Chief Lenny Gunther.)
“You paid $100,000 to a company to find somebody to run the department. What you’re saying to the people in the department is, ‘Hey, you’re not qualified for this, you’re not even getting a promotion,’” says Crampton. “If I was Gunther after that, I’d be tempted to be like, ‘No, I’m going to go to another [department] because you told me what you thought of me.’”
When thinking about issues facing the district, Crampton thinks that crime and quality of life are very important, and they go hand in hand.
“People have to be employed, and you have to be attractive to the employment source, and if people don’t feel safe, that’s going to drive them to not be here and look for employment elsewhere,” he says. “So you have to have a safe, quality of life for people to work those jobs, and you need the police force to do that, because you need them to bring that money in so they can pay taxes. They need to pay into the city so the city can pay and provide the services that support the life.”
Part of Crampton’s motivation to run is his ongoing fight with Palumbo and the city over his own run-ins with crime. Crampton says his neighbors have been vandalizing his car by slashing the tires and stealing the license plate in an attempt to get the car towed. According to Crampton, he reached out to Palumbo to report that he was the victim of a crime, but from there it’s been escalated to a cold case where he’s been taken to court several times.
“I was like, ‘I have rights here,’ and [Palumbo] was like, ‘Yeah, you have rights. I don’t care about your rights. Your neighbors have rights,’” Crampton recalls, saying that Palumbo insisted on only communicating with him in writing.
“If you’re a negotiator, if you’re a problem solver, why are you not resolving issues between these other people who are damaging my property for tens of thousands of dollars?” he asks.
If he were in the seat, Crampton would bring a more measured approach to dealing with other personalities on Council.
“Throughout my life, I have very few enemies or people that don’t get along with me,” he says. “You have to control your emotions and control yourself, so it’s a mental thing.”
Another thing Crampton would do on Council is take a look at ways to improve efficiency and prioritize the environment.
“I have a lot of ideas that I think will make efficiency in the city and reduce costs, like getting away from so many pickup trucks that city workers are driving around in when they could be driving in four-cylinder cars. That will save money, that will save fuel, that will reduce environmental concern,” he says. “You don’t hear Palumbo, you don’t hear the incumbents talking about the environment. Palumbo has this aluminum cup thing, but that’s about it.”
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