With the goal of keeping local parents (and voters) as informed as possible about all things parent-related, the editors of Rocket City Mom compiled “4 Questions for the Candidates”. We asked all the Huntsville City and Madison City candidates to answer the same four questions, and have published their responses unedited and as they have sent them to us.
Get to know a little about each candidate and where they stand on serving local families in our full Know Your Vote series. We encourage all of our readers to exercise their democratic right and vote on Tuesday, August 25, 2020.
4 Questions with Devyn Keith
Q. What do you see as the top three most pressing issues facing Huntsville today? What are your plans to address those issues?
Huntsville is a beautiful, unique, rapidly growing city. In the past several years, the Greater Huntsville area has increasingly been ranked on several lists for the high quality of life, and people travel here to experience good food, great entertainment, and activities the whole family can enjoy. These positive attributes help make Huntsville a desirable place to work and live, which is an amazing thing. Be that as it may, this rapid growth brings its own set of advantages and challenges.
The three greatest challenges for the candidate elected to the position I am seeking (and have held for the past 3½ years) are implementing controlled expansion of infrastructure, investing in regional projects, and investing into our school systems in such a way that produces lasting, positive change.
To expand our infrastructure, we need to invest more in complete street networks, which will allow sidewalk mobility, bike lanes and LED lighting. These improvements will make for a more “walkable” Huntsville, which would be beneficial to many families and professionals alike. We should also invest in sewer and utility extension (particularly in the Martin Luther King Boulevard area), which will allow neighborhood developers to have easier access and facilitate the growth process. Investing in infrastructure on the front end mitigates much of the cost and delay developers face otherwise, which means less traffic and intrusion for businesses and current homeowners in those development areas.
It will also be important to invest in the right regional projects. As Huntsville continues to grow, we will need to invest in projects that bring jobs to this area, increase revenue to our city and local businesses, and ultimately help improve the quality of life of all Huntsvillians.
Additionally, we need to address the variance in the school systems to make sure all the children in this area are properly educated and set up for success. To do this, we need to invest long term in all three of our public school systems, but especially in my district. We need to increase the salaries of teachers and incentivize teachers who are educating effectively and committed to staying in our school systems. We also need to create classrooms with productive outcome models, which will provide support for students interested in learning and excelling in a trade, similar to the STEM programs we currently offer.
Q. Why do you believe you are the right person for this office?
I am running for District 1 City Council again, because I am committed to seeing this district thrive and grow to its full potential. This city is my home, and I have a plan, a vision, and a team in place to help Huntsville be everything we know it can be. I have both the passion and the experience necessary to continue investing in my community in such a way that enhances not only District 1, but also the entire city of Huntsville.
Q. As the incumbent, what new or existing initiatives do you look forward to working on?
Saturday, August 15th, will be the grand opening for the Johnson Legacy Center, a 43-acre development at the site that was previously Johnson High School in North Huntsville. A great deal of work has gone into this development, which will house an $8M fitness facility, complete with a park, retention pond and greenway. I believe this center will be a huge blessing for my North Huntsville community, as it will provide a safe atmosphere for families to enjoy their community and invest in their wellness.
I am also excited for the groundbreaking of our new private residential development with Davidson Homes called Jaguar Hills Estates. Davidson is a highly reputable local builder, and I am grateful that they are partnering with us to bring more than 50 new, high-quality homes to North Huntsville by 2022.
There are several other economic development projects that my team and I are currently working on including Councill High Park, the new North Huntsville Library, the Berachah Park Redevelopment, and the North Parkway Revitalization Plan.
Aside from economic development, if re-elected, I have plans already in place for my 2020-2024 term to expand the Department of Multicultural Affairs, to engage civic organizations in conversations regarding redistricting, and to support the increase of Ad Valorem tax to support Huntsville City Schools.
Q. What is your overall vision/mission when it comes to families living in your city? What are your ideas about how to best serve them specifically?
I am passionate about making sure Huntsville is a safe, established, beautiful place to live and raise healthy families. I have an undergraduate degree in Family Studies from Samford University, because finding ways to serve families has always been a passion of mine. I worked to obtain a master’s in Public Administration from the McCormick Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMB, because I wanted to know how to advocate for those families in the public sector. But aside from my education and training, my own personal experiences have taught me so much about how to advocate for families. I was born and raised in Huntsville by a single mother and grandmother who did all they could to provide for me and invest in my future. I know how it feels to have a mother work several jobs, to live in a neighborhood that seems forgotten and neglected, and to struggle to build a better life for your children.
As a result, everything I do is ultimately for the families living in this city. I want to create jobs so parents can provide for their children, and I want property values to increase so individuals can leverage that value for their families. I want to create safe facilities and spaces for families to enjoy each other and create lifelong memories. I’m passionate about doing whatever is necessary to provide our children with a quality education, so they can build successful lives and use their education and skills to positively impact the lives of those around them. As far as I’m concerned, if a program or initiative does not enrich the lives of families in this area, either directly or indirectly, it’s not worth implementing.
I am so honored to have the opportunity to serve the families in Huntsville by investing in projects and services that will positively impact our families for generations to come. I am grateful to be a part of building Huntsville’s future, and I am confident that the best is yet to come.
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Rocket City Mom is a website about raising children in and around Huntsville, Alabama. Started in late 2010 by a local mom and newcomer to Huntsville, Rocket City Mom has grown into a thriving community of local parents and now boasts a staff of four, thirteen regular contributors, and tens of thousands of Tennessee Valley readers making it the #1 Parenting Resource in North Alabama.