Why Run as a Republican?

Clyde, commenting on the Madison County Commission District 1 primary race between Bob Long and Chris Stuckey, asks “why is Chris Stuckey running as a Republican?”

I think that is a fair question. In fact, I’ve asked him.

Those who know me in real life know that I can be blunt, so it may not be much of a surprise to learn that I asked Chris Stuckey that very question at an event where I heard he was running for the County Commission.  We talked for probably thirty minutes, he was very gracious with his time and patience, and I’m certain he thought me a complete boor. I’m also certain that he is sincere.  Stuckey made a deliberate and thoughtful decision that the GOP is right for him, and that he wants to represent us.  He agrees with the Republican Party on the issues (as much as any of us agree).

Isn’t that why anyone would run as a Republican?

NOTE: to be fair, this is not an endorsement of either candidate. From what I know, I like and respect each of them and think that the GOP has a good chance of picking up the seat regardless of which of them wins the primary.  I just happened to have asked the question (as I’ve asked others before him) and received an answer that satisfied me. I can tell you that I will be volunteering for one of their campaigns (Long or Stuckey) after June 3.

 

Bob Dole on Scott McClellan

From Politico, Bob Dole unloads on McClellan:

“There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don’t have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues…”

“No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits, and spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique.” 

“In my nearly 36 years of public service I’ve known of a few like you…”

“No doubt you will ‘clean up’ as the liberal anti-Bush press will promote your belated concerns with wild enthusiasm. When the money starts rolling in you should donate it to a worthy cause, something like, ‘Biting The Hand That Fed Me.’ Another thought is to weasel your way back into the White House if a Democrat is elected. That would provide a good set up for a second book deal in a few years.”

“…because if all these awful things were happening, and perhaps some may have been, you should have spoken up publicly like a man, or quit your cushy, high profile job.”

“That would have taken integrity and courage but then you would have had credibility and your complaints could have been aired objectively…”

“You’re a hot ticket now but don’t you, deep down, feel like a total ingrate?”

“BOB DOLE”

Nuff said.

 

Madison County Commission District 5 – Mo Brooks

Here are the responses to the Flashpoint Candidate Questionnaire from Madison County Commission, District 5 candidate Mo Brooks:

1. What is your position on the proposed Sales Tax increase?

Mo Brooks has consistently voted “no” to sales tax increases. Mo Brooks will continue to vote “no” to sales tax increases.

Proponents of higher taxes could not have chosen a worst tax to promote. Aside from the regressive nature of sales taxes, a new twist is the effect of the City of Madison and City of Huntsville annexing huge chunks of land in Limestone County. Madison and Huntsville school systems will use the Madison County sales tax to build schools in Limestone County for people who don’t have to pay the Madison County sales tax. If the Madison or Huntsville school systems need more money to build schools in Limestone County, they should pass city-wide taxes that make Limestone County school users pay their fair share of education costs. It is absurd to demand that Madison County residents pay higher sales taxes to subsidize education costs for those who don’t have to pay the tax.

Further, sales tax proponents mislead the public by arguing school systems lack sufficient funds to build schools. How so? Because local schools are already enjoying record high tax receipts. Hence, the issue is not insufficient money, the issue how the money is spent. Rather than spending record high tax receipts on new schools, maintenance of old schools, equipment and supplies, more teachers to lower teacher-pupil ratios, and other things parents want and children need, government-run schools spent the money on pay raises for themselves. For example, in the last three years, school workers have received 20%+ in pay raises. While pay raises for school workers are a good thing, no one in the private sector has enjoyed such huge, across-the-board raises. Based on past history, if the sales tax passes, the education power structure will again spend the extra money on pay raises for themselves, and not for what they promise (new schools, more teachers, and the like for students).

2. What is your position on raising Property Taxes for schools outside the City limits of Huntsville or Madison?

Mo Brooks opposes raising any taxes, period. Government has to live on a budget just as families do. Every tax increase undermines the ability of our private sector to compete in a worldwide economy. And the private sector is the goose that lays the golden egg. If we overtax (and kill) it, then we have nothing.

Having said that I oppose all tax increases, a rural-only property tax increase is not as bad as a county-wide sales tax increase.

But the County Commission has no vote on raising property taxes in rural Madison County. The County Commission cannot vote to require a property tax referendum. The legislature has restricted the issue of rural Madison County property tax increases to (a) itself and (b) local school boards.

The most the Madison County Commission can do is try to influence the date on which a property tax vote takes place. Mo Brooks opposes the extra cost of special property tax referendums and will vote to put property tax referendums on the ballot only when an election is already scheduled to take place.

3. Describe your approach to Economic Development? Does the County need more Industrial Parks / Sites; would you support development of a TVA Megasite in the County?

Mo Brooks’ approach to economic development is to help create a good work and living environment that will naturally attract industry and commerce. Mo Brooks does not believe in using tax dollars to subsidize politically powerful companies over their competitors. The “TVA Megasite” issue has not been thoroughly vetted. Factors such as costs, location, and the like are unknown. This is in part because, at this time, there are no specific TVA Megasites proposed for Madison County.

4. What is your position on ‘Metro Government’?

Mo Brooks is for metro government. Having said that, “metro” used to mean “county-wide” (See Nashville and Davidson County, TN). Metro government is a dead issue in Madison County because there is no viable definition of “metro” now that Huntsville and Madison have annexed into Limestone County (unless Huntsville and Madison deannex all Limestone County property to promote metro government). Notwithstanding that the metro government concept has been killed by annexations into Limestone County, Mo Brooks favors consolidation of services whenever possible.

5. Which roads and bridges in the County are most in need of improvement; which roads in your District need improvement?

Memorial Parkway overpasses, Southern By-Pass construction, and four-laning of Ashburn Drive through Blevins Gap are our greatest road needs.

6. Describe your approach to public safety. Does the Sheriff’s Department have adequate resources? Does the Fire Marshall have adequate resources? Do the Volunteer Fire Departments have adequate resources; should the County establish a ‘regular’ Fire Department? Does the EMA have adequate resources?

The Madison County Commission has no control over law enforcement in Madison County. The most the Commission can do is increase funding for the sheriff’s department. The Commission has steadily done that, making the Madison County Sheriff’s Department one of the highest funded sheriff’s departments in Alabama.

No law enforcement agency in Alabama has “adequate resources” (where the term “adequate” means sufficient to stop all crime). Having said that, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department is one of the highest funded sheriff’s departments in Alabama.

Does the Fire Marshall have adequate resources? Probably not, but, given the Madison County Commission’s funding limitations and a plethora of demands by other, worthwhile public services for those funds, Mo Brooks believes the Fire Marshall is as adequately funded as prioritization of available resources permits.

Do the Volunteer Fire Departments have adequate resources; should the County establish a ‘regular’ Fire Department? Inasmuch as 99% of Commission District 5 is in the City of Huntsville, and inasmuch as very, very little of District 5 is protected by volunteer fire departments, it has been Mo Brooks’ policy to (in large part) defer volunteer fire department funding issues to rural commissioners (Dale Strong, Roger Jones, and Jerry Craig). Hence, Mo Brooks defers to rural commissioners whether the benefit of a full-time, fully-paid, fire department outweighs the costs of higher taxes or fees on rural residents to pay for full-time fire protection.

Does the EMA have adequate resources? Probably not, but, given the Madison County Commission’s funding limitations and a plethora of demands by other, worthwhile public services for those funds, Mo Brooks believes the EMA is as adequately funded as prioritization of available resources permits.

7. How would you improve County Mental Health services?

This issue is akin to all others. It comes down to funding resources. The Madison County Commission will help as available funding and priorities dictate.

8. Does the County need more Parks/Greenways and if so, where?

Yes. Everywhere it can be done (in neighborhoods, along mountain slopes, and along creeks and rivers). District 5 has helped build the Bailey Cove Greenway, the new greenway and park behind the Target shopping center on Carl T. Jones Blvd., and the Aldridge Creek Greenway extension to the Tennessee River. District 5 also helped acquire realty for hiking trails on Green Mountain (at the Blevins Gap starting point).

9. What do you propose for protecting the Flint River?

Two things can be done to help protect the Flint River. First, Madison County needs a sewage system that will help minimize pollution of ground water supplies and storm runoff into the Flint River. Second, Madison County needs the power to restrict or prevent siphoning of water from the Flint River during low water flow periods.

10. What is the biggest problem facing your district?

Traffic congestion.

Plus a softball: Are there any questions you wish we had asked? Go ahead and answer it.

Mo Brooks’ question is, “Why should you be reelected to the Madison County Commission?”

In no particular order, Mo Brooks submits he should be reelected based on:

1. Experience. Mo Brooks has served in the following public capacities (all of which help build a skill-set that better enable Mo Brooks to serve District 5):

1978-1980: Tuscaloosa County Assistant District Attorney

1982-1991: Alabama House of Representatives. Elected: 1982, 1983, 1986, 1990.

Alabama House Republican Caucus Chairman.

Elected three times by fellow Republican legislators

1991-1993: Madison County District Attorney

1996-2008: Madison County Commissioner. Elected: 1996, 2000, 2004.

2. Education. Mo Brooks attended Whitesburg, Weatherly, Mt. Gap and Grissom (all-city baseball, honor society, active member of two-time state championship debate team). Mo Brooks graduated from Duke University in three years (with “distinction” in economics, Duke’s highest honors, and a second major in political science) and from the University of Alabama School of Law. Mo Brooks’ education experience helps him better represent District 5′s citizens.

3. Family. Mo Brooks has long-term roots in District 5. Mo Brooks is the son of Jack (retired Redstone Arsenal electrical engineer) and Betty Brooks (retired Lee High School economics and government teacher). Sister Suzetta Hardwick Jones is a retired Huntsville Crimestoppers’ police officer. Brother Dr. W. Timothy Brooks is a Huntsville dentist. Mo and Martha Brooks met at Duke University, married in 1976 and have four children: Rachel (elementary school teacher, wife of Walter Olsen and now a mom), Jay (Auburn senior, mechanical engineering major), Chelsie (BYU junior, elementary education major), and Thomas (Auburn freshman, aerospace engineering major). Martha, a University of Alabama accounting major, retired as a C.P.A. in the 1980s to become a full-time mom. Martha recently obtained her math & education majors from U.A.H. (she was math student of the year in 2005) and teaches at Whitesburg Middle School, where she is Whitesburg’s math team coach.

4. Efficient Leadership for District 5. Mo Brooks maximizes resources for District 5 by declining a “free” County car and using no tax dollars to pay for Mo Brooks’ secretary, cell phone, or office equipment (other than one telephone landline). No other Madison County Commission office is as efficient!

5. Effective Leadership For District 5. District 5′s budget was a paltry $35,000 in 1996 (after salary and office expenses). Mo Brooks’ hard work with his fellow commissioners paid off: District 5′s disposable budget for constituent services is $740,000 in 2008 (a 21-fold increase). This increase in District 5 funding was achieved without raising any tax rates!

6. Good Stewardship for District 5. Mo Brooks’ goal has been to increase District 5′s budget enough to affect road congestion. While we’re not there yet, Mo Brooks has been able to focus on capital projects that improve District 5′s overall quality of life and property values. Projects funded by District 5, in whole or in part (via joint agreements with the City of Huntsville), include:

  • Bailey Cove Greenway
  • Second, north-bound turn lane at Airport Road and the Parkway
  • 4 Mile Post to Carl T. Jones Park & Greenway (under construction)
  • Grissom Tennis Courts (lighted & for public use)
  • Green Mountain hiking trails acreage acquisition
  • Ditto Landing Rowing Facility
  • 30+ acres on Chaney-Thompson acquisition preserved for future recreational use
  • Aldridge Creek Greenway Extension to Ditto Landing & Tennessee River
  • $80,000+ for thousands of new books for District 5 library branches
  • Capital improvements to all sports parks in District 5 (Mayfair, Fern Bell, McGucken & Hampton Cove)
  • School Improvements. District 5′s 12 public schools provide our children with a top-notch education. District 5 has done its part to help. With Mo Brooks as Commissioner, District 5 has spent $1.5+ million on public schools. Principals and PTA presidents establish each school’s priority list. School Improvements include:
    • Auditorium lighting & sound systems
    • Athletic & P.E. equipment (weights, etc.)
    • 100s of computers, scanners, copiers, printers, projectors, & other technology
    • Science labs, microscopes, tables, skeletons, etc.
    • School grounds equipment (mowers, pressure washers, marquees, and the like)
    • Elementary school playground equipment
    • 1,000s of classroom Alabama Reading Initiative books
    • 1,000s of school library books

Madison County Commission District 5 – Bobby Abernathy

Here are the responses to the Flashpoint Candidate Questionnaire from Madison County Commission, District 5 candidate Bobby Abernathy:

1. What is your position on the proposed Sales Tax increase?

I am against the Sales Tax increase. We need to look to some alternative ways to raise funds for our schools besides a sales tax increase. I am a very strong supporter of our schools, and if elected, I will do everything in my power to help make our schools the best in the country.

2. What is your position on raising Property Taxes for schools outside the City limits of Huntsville or Madison?

Our Property Taxes in Madison County need to stay in Madison County. I am against raising the Madison County property owners’ taxes to fund schools outside of Madison County.

3. Describe your approach to Economic Development? Does the County need more Industrial Parks / Sites; would you support development of a TVA Megasite in the County?

We must assure we have safe communities and great schools. I feel this is the first thing we need to do to bring other industries into this area. We must also work together with the cities in Madison County, and other agencies such as the Chamber of Commerce that help bring monies into our county. We all need to be on the same page because growth benefits us all. I would support a TVA mega site. My Grandfather worked for TVA for 30 years.

4. What is your position on ‘Metro Government’?

I favor Metro Government with the growth of Madison County. We need to look more into this idea. County and City leaders must work together and forget about their titles (Councilman, Commissioner, etc.), and look at making Huntsville and Madison County the best it can be.

5. Which roads and bridges in the County are most in need of improvement; which roads in your District need improvement?

I feel Winchester Road is in need of improvement with all of the traffic and new building in that area. We must make it safer. The roads in District 5 are city maintained.

6. Describe your approach to public safety. Does the Sheriff’s Department have adequate resources? Does the Fire Marshall have adequate resources? Do the Volunteer Fire Departments have adequate resources; should the County establish a ‘regular’ Fire Department? Does the EMA have adequate resources?

As a 25-year veteran of the Police Department, Public Safety is an area of which I have first-hand knowledge. The County Commission must give the Sheriff whatever he needs to keep us safe. We must give our Sheriff’s Department more resources. These brave men and women work 24 hours a day for very little pay. They are understaffed and use old equipment. I feel they do a great job, but unless we raise their pay and get better equipment and hire more staff we will continue to lose them to Huntsville PD (where the starting pay is almost $14,000 more a year), Madison PD, and other larger departments. I feel the Fire Marshall is also in need of more resources. We also must continue to help our Volunteer Fire Departments. They all do a great job, but have limited resources at their disposal. Too many times many people never think of our Public Safety heroes unless their house is on fire, someone is breaking in, or their home has been damaged by a storm.

7. How would you improve County Mental Health services?

One of the first things would be to reopen the “City Program” school at the Mental Health Center. The school was closed because of funding issues. The children who were in this program have serious mental health issues. These children are now at several city and county schools. These kids need more help than a regular school can give them. I feel this poses a danger to the students and staff because the regular teachers are not trained to deal with many of the issues that these children have. I have been personally involved with many of these children. I taught classes at Mental Health and I had several of these kids at my schools this last school year. I also had to arrest some of these children because of violent outbursts. Most of these kids do not need to be in jail. They need to be in an environment that has the resources that can help them.

8. Does the County need more Parks / Greenways and if so, where?

We are blessed with many parks in our county. We need to continue to fund and keep up our parks and also look at adding additional parks as the population grows with BRAC over the next few years.

9. What do you propose for protecting the Flint River?

I’m not familiar with any problems associated with the Flint River, but would be willing to investigate any issues brought to my attention.

10. What is the biggest problem facing your district?

I feel that the biggest problem facing District 5 is the overcrowded schools. We are in desperate need of a new high school, as well as repairs to most of the other existing facilities.

Plus a softball: Are there any questions you wish we had asked? Go ahead and answer it.

I want to be your full time Commissioner in District 5. When elected I will retire from the Huntsville Police Department to devote all of my attention to District 5. I will be in the office five days a week to answer the citizens’ questions and concerns. I will listen to your needs. Madison County pays each of the Commissioners over $60,000 a year. Most of the people in my district don’t make $60,000 a year at their full time job. Some commissioners work full time and others work part time. This is not fair to the commissioners or citizens. I feel for $60,000 a year; the citizens deserve and should insist they have a full time representative. I don’t understand how with another full time job, anyone could devote enough time to the voters of District 5. I was taught at a young age the importance of working hard at a job. My mother told me as a child “if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” I have never held public office and I don’t know everything, but what I do know is we need honest and hard working men and women– not politicians– representing us.

Madison County Commission District 1 – Chris Stuckey

Here are the responses to the Flashpoint Candidate Questionnaire from Madison County Commission, District 1 candidate Chris Stuckey:

1. What is your position on the proposed Sales Tax increase?

Vote NO! NO! and NO! on the Sales Tax Hike! Moreover, oust any Commissioner that voted for it! Since 1988 the current 1/2 sales tax Hike has generated at 1988 ($450+ million). In the Next 20 years, the existing 1/2 cent tax will generate $650+ million dollars. That’s over a billion dollars.

According to the, (Code of Alabama 1975, Sections 11-85-1-through 11-85-7) this statue authorizes the county commission to develop a master plan for the county’s physical development.

Example:

Meridianville Middle School was built within the last three years. Now, it’s over crowded. What happened? As the population grows, the need for infrastructure increases. The Level-of-Service is affected and poor forecasting of the population increase over a desired time decreases the quality of life. A proper master plan for all of Madison County would be taken into account the boom in growth and provided an alternative solution. Before the impacts should arise.

2. What is your position on raising Property Taxes for schools outside the City limits of Huntsville or Madison?

The people that I meet going door to door are not interested in property tax increases. As Chris Stuckey for County Commissioner for District 1, I will provide the data in charts, graphs and maps and tables easy to read so the people can make informed decisions based on accurate analysis.

3. Describe your approach to Economic Development? Does the County need more Industrial Parks / Sites; would you support development of a TVA Mega site in the County?

There are two basic strategies that are derived from the export base theory:

*Economic base theory is basically that we manufacture something locally and export it for example: For $250, of which $100 remain in the local community which 70% is spent locally.*

1. Increase revenue into Madison County, AL

a. Promote Madison County as a destination place. According to the last report tourism numbers were great! Forbes ranked us as 4th fastest growing economy in February 2008.

b. Start a “Get The Business Campaign” try to attract firms serving national and international markets.

c. Provide assistance that helps local companies to expand to international markets. At no additional cost to the taxpayers! Madison County Commission has an organization that started in 1983 called TDIC (The International Trade Development Center) that operates in the overall Economic Development mission of the Commission. According to the Commission web site, they offer export mentoring, export consultation, training and market outreach. *** Part of the Commissioners Job Description is Economic Development which includes attracting new businesses ventures to County*** For every 1 manufacturing job a Commissioner brings in 1.5 service positions are created.

2. Decrease the amount of revenue out of Madison County

a. Create Local “Buy it in Madison County” campaigns to encourage exporters to buy local firms.

Without a master plan, which includes a land use analysis, it would be presumptuous to guess (about more industrial parks). However, what if TVA wanted to put a mega site in Madison County?

a. Whose community is moving into? $1,000,000, homes or $500,000 $325,000 $125,000 $90,000 or a local trailer park community.

b. If we had a designated area, what level of commitment could we expect form TVA?

c. What’s there long-range plan? Are they going to build here and hire Labor force capital from another location?

d. There will be environmental impacts. Is the community ready?

e. There will be economic impacts

f. The ultimate decision rests with The People First its there decision!

4. What is your position on ‘Metro Government’?

I would like to see us look at the Unit system Vs. the District system first. Before we explore the option of combing the two governments.

5. Which roads and bridges in the County are most in need of improvement; which roads in your District need improvement?

a. There are several roads in the district that need improvement. However, the concern is funding.

b. It takes 3 to 5 million dollars to produce a 3-lane road for the distance of a mile.

c. In order to expedite the county road improvement we should consider moving the 5% yearly pay raise to the for county employees to an honest merit system. This would provide an increase to the pay of those honestly earning tax pay funds.

d. There are a few ITS (intelligent transport systems) that will decrease congestion and casualties on our county roads.

6. Describe your approach to public safety. Does the Sheriff’s Department have adequate resources? Does the Fire Marshall have adequate resources? Do the Volunteer Fire Departments have adequate resources; should the County establish a ‘regular’ Fire Department? Does the EMA have adequate resources?

It all goes back to the plan! If your population increases there will be an impact on the services you can provide. In all areas, the Sheriff’s Department has 107 deputies. That’s 1.7 deputies per 1,000 persons the national average is 2.3, According to the Huntsville Times, if I’m not mistaken some of if not a good majority of our public safety professionals are first responders. Which would leave us handicap in an emergency.

7. How would you improve County Mental Health services?

I would like to see an independent agency do a SWOT analyses , which include a review of :

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunity

Threats

8. Does the County need more Parks / Greenways and if so, where?

Yes, more families are moving in. They need safe environments for their children to play. Greenways would create great buffers that would protect are local natural resource treasure the Flint River for generations to come.

***FUNDING TO DEVELOP THROUGH PRIVATEE PARTNERSHIPS , GRANTS, AND OTHER FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES. TVA MAY HELP FUND LOCAL PROJECTS.

9. What do you propose for protecting the Flint River?

a. We want this natural resource around a long time. I have gone canoeing with my family on the Flint River and it was a wonderful experience. We go to the watering holes out in the county.

b. This would be in the master plan assessment.

10. What is the biggest problem facing your district?

Our infrastructure is not prepared for the population increase. The roads are reaching capacity, the schools are at capacity. Our public safety professionals are stretched. Our needs for waste treatment plants are now. Our quality of life in Madison County is a stake.

Let us plan together to make Madison County the best County in the United States.

Plus a softball: Are there any questions you wish we had asked? Go ahead and answer it.

The County Commissioner position is far beyond the 1950′s road shed idea. With the population growth in Madison County the demand for basic infrastructure, roads, schools, water treatment facilities and public safety services have increased.

At this time, Madison County needs, foresight in growth management, policy, and economic development.

What is the role of a County Commissioner?

1. Policy and Statue Development

2. Public Services

3. Community & Economic Development

4. Regulation

5. Administrative Support Operations

According to the Functional and Organizational Analysis of Alabama County Commission

“Generally, the county commissions’ duties fall under the Policy & Statute Development, Public Services, Economic & Community Development, Regulation, and Administrative Support Operations functions herein identified for Alabama local government.”

Revision Approved by the Local Government Records Commission
July 25, 2007

What role does the 2010 census play in the County Commission role?

Every ten years U.S. Census Bureau conducts the Census. The Census data provides crucial information to the government that helps them determine the number of representatives in Congress we will receive in addition to other monetary benefits.

It’s the same at the district level. Madison County Commissioner’s in 2010 will supply information to the Census Bureau in order to ensure that the county ‘s electoral precincts and district remain equitable. I want District 1 to prosper. Chris Stuckey is the only conservative candidate that works with the Census data as a tool daily, he is the only candidate will develop policy on the people first, he is the only candidate that has the experience to negotiate and recruit businesses and industries to District 1 and Madison County.

Locally trained as a planner and urban analyst. Chris Stuckey is the only candidate with the background to provide the people with accurate data to make informed decisions.

Madison County Commission District 1 – Bob Long

Here are the responses to the Flashpoint Candidate Questionnaire from Madison County Commission, District 1 candidate Bob Long:

1. What is your position on the proposed Sales Tax increase?

AGAINST. I believe better management of our tax payers money needs to be the top priority. With a $7 million budget surplus last year, we should be looking at tax cuts countywide. Our district needs a commissioner who is prepared to make the tough decisions in regards to spending priorities. As District One’s Commissioner, I will work hand in hand with the Madison County School board and form a cooperative working group to review school expenditures and explore alternative forms of revenue to ease the classroom over-crowding.

2. What is your position on raising Property Taxes for schools outside the City limits of Huntsville or Madison?

As the only District One candidate who has children in the Madison County Schools System, I understand how the increased growth of our district has severely impacted most, if not all, of our county schools. As a former Vice President of the Mount Carmel Elementary School’s PTA, I have listened to our county school board make building promises and not follow through with them.

Hence, prior to asking the voters to support an increase in the mill rate for developed property, I believe the Madison County School Board must first lay out all expenditures for public examination and make public both short-term (1-5 years) and long-term (5-10 years) plans that detail all ‘bricks and mortar’ construction projects.

Along with the school board, I believe the commissioners have a responsibility to the taxpayers to make sure our schools measure up to strict standards that will provide an environment that is safe, secure, and conducive to learning. Portables are not the answer. I will do everything in my power to reverse this trend and work with the Madison County School Board for solutions to the over-crowding. This issue will require tough decisions- but in the long run our children will be the benefactors.

3. Describe your approach to Economic Development? Does the County need more Industrial Parks / Sites; would you support development of a TVA Megasite in the County?

District One has excellent potential for industrial growth with the North Huntsville Industrial Park (corner of Bob Wade and Pulaski). With the Toyota plant anchoring this area, there is plenty of room for growth. New development will bring both jobs and additional revenue to our district and county. As a small business owner, I know how important new business growth is to our economy. By supporting both small businesses and industry development, I expect the economy of our district to grow. I would use the increased revenues to fund major infrastructure projects such as a sewer system and improved roads in our district. I would support a TVA Megasite here in the county, however, if either site in Tennessee or neighboring Limestone County are chosen and industry develops there, Madison County could still see a benefit as our residents are employed there.

4. What is your position on ‘Metro Government’?

More important to our voters right now is pushing for and obtaining ‘Home Rule’ for our county. This is one of the most important issues facing us in the next few years, with BRAC, the unprecedented growth of unincorporated Madison County, and tax issues that affect our roads, schools and infrastructure. ‘Home Rule’ is critically needed and is an issue that I will not only support but actively strive to achieve.

As for Metropolitan Government or ‘Metro Government’, there are advantages and disadvantages to some of the main types – Single Tier, Federated, or Regional. For us here in Madison County, a large benefit to a consolidated government would be seeking state and federal money with ‘one voice’. Far too often there are competing priorities between the cities of Huntsville and Madison and Madison County respectively. If properly administered, any one of these variations of metro government could improve services by properly allocating money to the most critical needs. This is similar to the proposal of implementing the ‘Unit System’ vs. ‘District System’ for our roads countywide. By removing each district’s individual county shed and pulling them together under a ‘Road’s Engineer’ it would provide more money and higher priority to our most dangerous roads and intersections.

On the other hand and important to me as a commissioner, I believe that people have a right to move and live wherever they choose. In District One for example, as a Realtor, I see an increase in families moving out of the cities of Huntsville and Madison to Northeast Madison County because the taxes are lower, the schools are better, and the quality of life is more to their liking. Ineffective elected officials will result in bad government and consolidating into a ‘Metro Government’ might produce results we see every year in our state legislature where ineptitude and failure to do the people’s business is the norm, not the exception.

5. Which roads and bridges in the County are most in need of improvement; which roads in your District need improvement?

Countywide the following roads are in dire need of improvement or widening -Highway 53 and Highway 231/431, Wall Triana, Old Railroad Bed Road, and Winchester Road.

The following countywide roads have some of the most dangerous intersections that need to be addressed as soon as possible: Jordan Lane and University; Governors Drive at Memorial Parkway; U.S. 72 East and I-565, Moores Mill and Winchester Road.

For District One – Winchester Road is a top priority, including the old-outdated bridge over the Flint River. While I realize Winchester Road improvements are on the horizon, I believe if you look at the accident statistics, Winchester Road must be moved up on the priority list with aggressive lobbying to obtain more funding to speed up the timetable for completion. Road improvements and maintenance are also priorities throughout District One. Making sure potholes, shoulders (pull outs), and turning lanes are maintained are paramount to improving road safety. Also, after talking with homeowners associations, it appears the county has not assumed responsibility for a number of roads within the newer subdivisions – once elected I will review the entire road network for our district to ensure maintenance planning is underway for all our roads.

6. Describe your approach to public safety. Does the Sheriff’s Department have adequate resources? Does the Fire Marshall have adequate resources? Do the Volunteer Fire Departments have adequate resources; should the County establish a ‘regular’ Fire Department? Does the EMA have adequate resources?

I firmly believe the county government should fully fund our police, fire, and rescue personnel and departments, also important in that equation is making sure that our public safety servants receive the best training available. A critical need of all these agencies is communications equipment. As District One’s Commissioner, I will fully fund this critical need.

I will work with the Sheriff and fire protection agencies to make sure that the services they are providing keep pace with the growth of the district. Our residents are entitled to have the very best police, fire and emergency medical services.

Having been a volunteer fireman for more than eight years – I can think of no better program where men and women volunteer their time, risk their lives and yet receive no pay. These firefighters demand our respect and the counties full support. I will personally visit, on a regular basis, all fire departments within my district. I want to make sure the fire engines at each department are serviceable and meet the needs of our district. The volunteer fire departments are not only needed but provide an invaluable service to a district as large as District One. As members of the community these volunteers are intimately familiar with the citizens they support and the area they protect. Funding is always an issue for them, and I will do everything I can as their commissioner to help wherever possible.

7. How would you improve County Mental Health services?

The subject of funding and supporting mental health services has come up in a couple meetings I have had with local residents, I strongly believe the Mental Health Center of Madison County should be fully funded. This public, nonprofit community mental health is a benefit to all citizens of Madison County. In addition, I support other mental health resources that support our community such as The Arc of Madison County, which is “committed to securing for all people with mental retardation or developmental disabilities the opportunity to choose and realize their goals of where and how they learn, live, work, and play.”

In 2006 the Children’s Policy Council Assessment noted two main issues concerning Mental Health services for children in Madison County. First, were the unmet [monetary] needs of mental health and substance abuse services, and second was a lack of funding for substance abuse treatment for teens and delinquents. Their policy recommendation was an increase in funding for mental health, substance abuse, and mental retardation services. I too want these services supported and believe through cooperation with local, state and federal agencies we can make sure these services are available to those children in need.

8. Does the County need more Parks / Greenways and if so, where?

First, let me start by saying Sharon Johnson Park is a great asset to all residents of District One and to all of Madison County. As a little league softball coach for the last four years I am acutely aware of the status of most of the parks and recreational leagues in and around of District One. As commissioner, I would direct more money to improve all of the intramural parks in District One that currently exist – I would do this by providing funding for each park to improving baseball and softball fields, build a soccer/football field (or enhance those that already exist). I will fund the addition of play sets or update those that currently exist. Also, I want to make sure each park has a pavilion and picnic areas so the entire family can enjoy each of these great parks.

How to pay for the park enhancements – parks are vital to the community, as such it will be a line item in my budget to fund each park out of the discretionary budget I receive as a commissioner. In addition, a portion of this funding will come from the benefits that I would return to the District One budget. Such as the car, gas and maintenance provided by the county. It is my intent to work directly for and be available to the people of District One so I would need no secretarial services. Finally, as a retired military member, I would not need the healthcare provided by the county. This should give District One an additional $45,000 or more per year to make sure our parks are second to none.

9. What do you propose for protecting the Flint River?

I live directly on the Flint River, my family and I canoe, fish and swim in the Flint River so I have a vested interest in protecting this valuable natural resource. I will work hand-in-hand with conservationists to make sure the river is clean, safe and environmentally balanced (new construction, industrial growth, and recreation). I would ensure that as necessary, I will provide support to some of the volunteer and state organizations that are chartered to preserve the Flint River such as; the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Flint River Conservation Association (FRCA).

10. What is the biggest problem facing your district?

The lack of short and long term planning! Due to a lack of planning the entire district has to endure insufficient and unsafe roads, school overcrowding, and no plan for improved infrastructure such as a sewer system, improved tornado alerting system and sirens, traffic light management, and business development.

Plus a softball: Are there any questions you wish we had asked? Go ahead and answer it.

Why should the voters of your District elect you?

I have both the practical experience (planning, acquiring funding, and successfully executing Army budgets for construction projects that ranged from a $500,000 renovation project in Colorado to a $6 million dollar storage facility in Kuwait) and educational know-how (Master of Science in Management from Troy State University) to move Madison County’s District One forward. As a life-long conservative I understand the issues that face our county and I am optimistic I can solve these tough issues by implementing both short and long term solutions. I am a decorated Iraqi war veteran; and a retired military officer who understands what the BRAC move means to Huntsville and Madison County, as well as the impact to our countywide infrastructure. As a father with three girls in the Madison County School System I see first hand the over-crowding of our schools and the lack of planning and foresight that has plagued District One for far to long. As a small business owner I realize the negative consequences illegal workers have had on our economy and I will support tough fines on businesses that hire illegal immigrants. I will make sure the people know my voting record and how I intend to spend their money. I believe in an open government and will provide details of every cent that the county collects as well as how every cent is spent to include all discretionary funds. I understand, once elected, that I work for the people of District One and I will be available to my constituents for any problem big or small. Furthermore, I will not unilaterally raise taxes as a commissioner, I believe that any tax increase should be voted on by all registered voters of this county and the money should only be spent as promised – once that project is complete I believe there should be a provision to return the tax rate to it’s previous level.

Madison County Commission Questionnaire Responses

I’ve posted the responses received from the Madison County Commission Candidate Questionnaire. The responses were posted in order by District number, then alphabetically.

Since many contests are not on the ballot on June 3, my thought was that those candidates might not respond. And some candidates told me just that – they’d like to answer the questions later. But I wanted to get the questions out there at the same time for all of the candidates for fairness.

I am proud to announce that if you are a GOP voter in District 1 and District 5, you’ve got a treat coming. For District 1: Bob Long and Chris Stuckey. For District 5: Bobby Abernathy and Mo Brooks. I guarantee that if you take the time to read their responses, you will learn something about County Government.

We will send out a revised Commissioner questionnaire before the General Election in November (also revised AL-05 questionnaire, and probably Huntsville Mayor questionnaire before August), incorporating lessons learned from this round.

PS. As an example of ‘lessons learned’, question #6 was really six questions rolled into one, which was done to try to limit the questions to ten. This was my mistake. I got greedy and it was unfair to the candidates, because the question wasn’t as clear as it should have been.

Describe your approach to public safety. Does the Sheriff’s Department have adequate resources? Does the Fire Marshall have adequate resources? Do the Volunteer Fire Departments have adequate resources; should the County establish a ‘regular’ Fire Department? Does the EMA have adequate resources?

CQ Politics on AL Congressional Races

CQ Politics, Alabama Open House Seats Provide New Front in Wake of GOP Southern Setbacks, writes “The political problems faced by the Republican Party have become national in nature, even in the conservative South, where the GOP’s long ascendancy has recently been blunted. This trend can be seen in microcosm in the two open-seat House races this year in Alabama”.

“When your Parker Griffiths and your Bobby Brights try to run as conservative Democrats this year and their party aligns itself with one of the most liberal figures in D.C. . . . it’s going to be hard to separate from that,” said Philip Bryan, director of Alabama’s Republican Party.

But Democratic leaders disagree. “That’s apples and oranges,” said Alabama Democratic Party Executive Director Jim Spearman about the differences between the candidates’ ideological orientation and that of the House Democrats’ top leadership…

Though Republicans succeeded for years in slapping the liberal label on numerous Democratic candidates in the South, the outcomes of the recent House special elections call that strategy into question for this year’s campaigns…

CQPolitics currently rates the 5th District race as No Clear Favorite and the 2nd District contest as Leans Republican. Both categories denote races that are deemed as highly competitive.

IMO the AL GOP better step up their game, yelling ‘Liberal!’ does not work anymore, if it ever did. And they better figure out who they’re running against – Nancy Pelosi isn’t on the ballot anywhere in Alabama.

In the AL-05 race: Parker Griffith is running as a ‘blue dog’, no one can outspend him, and on the surface, he’s good on many issues (he’s for affordable health care and improved access, increased education funding, good on illegal immigration, supports the Farm Bill – which includes an Alabama water reservoir program, plus supports military spending and missile defense). Griffith will be tough to beat.

 

Vote No on the Sales Tax Increase

Madison County Tax Assessor Fran Hamilton wants you to know Madison County Property Tax Facts.

Huntsville pays 27.5 mills school tax (Huntsville City Schools); Madison pays 27 mills school tax and Triana pays 25 mills school tax for their combined school system (Madison City Schools). Rural Madison County, Gurley, OXR, and New Hope pay 16 mills school tax for the Madison County School System

The Madison County Schools are the ones pushing for the sales tax hike.  I don’t doubt that they need more money for County Schools, but if Madison County School Board members need money so badly, they should look to their own property tax rates before raising Huntsville, Madison, and Triana sales taxes. Note that Madison County (5 1/2 %) also pays less in sales tax than Huntsville or Madison or the other municipalities (8%).

Huntsville City Schools don’t appear to need the sales tax money. IIRC about half of the City schools are at 30% – 50% capacity (although Grissom is at 140%).  Huntsville City Schools need to better manage what they’ve got and consolidate / close some underused schools. Note that they’re fixing to think about looking at it.

Madison City Schools may need more money, but they haven’t exhausted other remedies yet. Madison City should get the Legislature to create TIFs to fund their school construction. Plus, they could stop annexing Limestone County land that they can’t support. Planning to build schools in Limestone County with Madison County sales taxes is just wrong.