This evening at the Historic Huntsville Roundhouse Depot First Fridays, Huntsville Young Professionals (HYP), and the Committee of 100 hosted “Rock the Vote”. The event provided an opportunity for young professionals in the Huntsville community to register to vote, talk to candidates running for local office, eat BBQ, and listen to a really good jazz band called Abstract. Here are a few observations about the event and the candidates I talked to.
- The diversity of the young professionals was very refreshing. The mix was 50-50 between African American and Caucasian. The total attendance is estimated to be around 200 young professionals.
- Over 60 young professionals got registered to vote.
- The acoustics in the Roundhouse made it difficult to hold a conversation.
- Bob Wagner is running for County Commissioner in District 2 against incumbent, Faye Dyer. Commissioner Dyer did not show up for the event. Bob seems like her earnestly wants to get Madison City and Huntsville working together. He believes the Tennessee Valley will soon grow big enough to be recognized as a regional brand (like Research Triangle or Silicon Valley). He points out that Faye Dyer does not have a plan to move into the future, but only wants to point to what she has done in the past. Bob meets every Monday at Sazios in Five Points to discuss his platform.
- Chris Stuckey is running for County Commissioner in District 1 against incumbent, Roger Jones. Commissioner Jones did not show up for the event. Chris is running on a “No Sales Tax Increase” platform. The county commissioners voted down a half cent sales tax increase for education infrastructure earlier this year. He believes that the county commission has done a poor job communicating with the public. He agrees that education capital is a huge need, but he does not unilaterally want to increase his constituency’s sales tax. He believes that a ad valorem tax is a much more stable tax structure. He wants to educate the public on the problems and needs in the area and let them decide the best way to remedy the situation.
- Linda Hall is an incumbent running for Madison County Tax Collector. The tax collector collects your taxes. I asked her if my property tax was going to decrease given the burst in the housing market. She was quick to point out that that is the job of the Tax Assessor not the Tax Collector. She was appointed to her position when the sitting tax collector was appointed as a judge. She is the daughter of the late Albert Hall. Governor Seigleman appointed her to her position. She ran four years ago and won.
- Cory Brown is also running for Madison County Tax Assessor. He pointed out that Madison County is one of the only counties in the state that separates the offices of the tax Collector and the Tax Assessor. Most other counties appoint a Revenue Commissioner to do both jobs. He said it is his sole purpose to get elected and get someone in Montgomery to push legislation to merge the two offices in Madison County – even if it means he loses his position.
- Tommy Battle is running for Mayor of Huntsville. He believes that it is time for a change. He believes that the downtown restoration needs some real vision. He believes that the roads have been neglected far too long and that the Alabama DOT needs to be called to the carpet on the number of contracts they have let in Madison County. He believes that more needs to be done to unify the two ends of the city. He also beleives that we must act quickly ensure that we maintain a quality public school system. I get the feeling that Tommy believes that Mayor Spencer has been in office too long and that she no longer has any real vision for the city.
- Mayor Loretta Spensor also attended the event. She showed up at 8:oopm and left at 8:15pm. She thanked a few people for helping sponsor the event and told us about how busy her schedule. She is a very nice grandmotherly lady.
- Other officials that attended – Dale Strong (County Commissioner District 4), Jackie Reed (running for Mayor), Sandy Kirkindall (Mayor of Madison City), Alta Moore (Huntsville City School Board), and many others.
Do you pay attention to local politics?
What issues do you think are the most pressing in the communities in Madison County?