Baldwin County has united once again, standing alongside one another to lend a helping hand to fellow neighbors in the wake of disaster. As our county deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, we’re reminded of what Baldwin County is all about: serving our neighbors, no matter the circumstances, no matter the time, and doing so humbly to continue making this a great place to call home.

Hurricane Sally reminds us of the importance of public safety, and how crucial it is to be prepared knowing that disaster can strike at any moment. We ought to do all in our power to ensure a safer future where our families, businesses and visitors feel protected.

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As we gear up for the upcoming election in November, I urge you to consider the importance of future preparedness as you vote on several local Baldwin County amendments on November 3. Local Amendment 2, specifically, is a step in the right direction for Baldwin County and will enhance public safety measures by creating an additional hurricane evacuation route.

Local Amendment 2 on the Baldwin County ballot proposes a northern extension of the Baldwin Beach Express to develop the Baldwin Beach Express II (BBEII), a $200 million expressway that would link I-10 to I-65. If passed, a toll authority would then be established to oversee and fund this extension.

This proposed toll would only apply to this new roadway and would not be enacted on any other roads now or in the future. The money collected from this proposed toll cannot be used for any other purposes — the toll fee and the toll fee alone will be funding this project. No county funding or government dollars will be allocated toward this roadway, freeing up these valuable funds for other projects that can positively impact our region, including future cleanup and reconstruction efforts.

Not only will the proposed BBEII have a major impact on our region’s quality of life and economic growth, it will also improve public safety by offering a vitally important evacuation route. In addition to Highway 59 and Highway 225, creating a third and more efficient North-South evacuation route is desperately needed to get locals and visitors alike quickly moving North toward safer ground when future storms like Hurricane Sally (or more severe) strike the Gulf Coast.

Serving as Baldwin County Sheriff for well over a decade has been a true highlight of my 35-year career in law enforcement. The safety and protection of Baldwin County’s communities are of utmost importance to me.

I firmly believe Local Amendment 2 and the extension of the Baldwin Beach Express is not only the right thing for Baldwin County families, professionals, businesses and residents, but the right move to accommodate our growing region in a safe and sound manner. We need to be better prepared in the future when disaster hits our home.

Baldwin County voters: don’t be silent bystanders this election. Just as it is crucial you cast your vote for U.S. President and U.S. Senate representation on November 3, cast your vote in favor of public safety and the future of Baldwin County by voting yes on Local Amendment 2.

Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack has served as Baldwin County Sheriff since 2007 and has spent 35 years in law enforcement.