Know Your Vote: Tom Hopf, Huntsville City Council District 5
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 Tom Hopf
Q. What do you see as the top three most pressing issues facing Huntsville today? What are your plans to address those issues?
The top three issues I am working on through my campaign are criminal justice reform, business reform and districting reform.
From a criminal justice standpoint, we can continue to push for more transparency from our police department. Years ago, body cams were purchased in an attempt to increase transparency, but this footage is rarely released to the public. While small segments from situations can increase the risk of a story being spun from the truth, it is important that the full footage be available to the people to ensure trust in the process. It is rare that an incident can be exposed from beginning to end and there not be a general consensus about who was in the right or the wrong. Releasing footage that is paid for by the tax payer can help ease some of the concerns the public has at the moment.
To reform our business structure, I’ll simply no longer advocate for the city to be involved in creating a business an entrepreneur will have to compete against. It’s not fair when the city can simply tax the residents out of potential financial shortages. While I’m a huge fan of the new amphitheater coming to my neighborhood, I don’t think it’s fair to other music and entertainment venues that now will have another city owned venue to compete against for entertainment, customers and employees. I’d rather see policies that reduce the barriers to entry for those among us who would like to venture into business on their own.
Addressing district reform, we live in one of the most unique districts in the world. Outside of the United States, I am only aware of 7 other cities that surround another city. It’s called a form of an enclave and our district distinctly holds this trait surrounding the city of Madison. As such, it’s imperative to have a good working relationship with the City of Madison where I have been a successful working professional for the past three years. It’s also important to bring the proper people to the table to discuss how we can most efficiently use our resources to address issues such as infrastructure and safety. I will work to bring these people to the table and hopefully make a little more sense of the chaos.
Q. Why do you believe you are the right person for this office?
I am the right person for this job because I am young and I have a lot of skin in the game. My son will begin school by the time the term we are electing next week comes to an end. I will be working to make sure not only my son has the best opportunities to grow up in this district, but that all children in our district and the rest of Huntsville get the best opportunities to learn and develop positive lifetime skills and habits. Letting the district down in regards to our educational and extracurricular youth activities would be doing a huge disservice to my pride and joy as a father. I can’t let him down.
Additionally, I’m a great fit for this job because I am the one most willing to approach government from a new perspective. I’m not a career politician or lobbyist. I’m a hard working red, white and blue collared worker who knows what it’s like to bust it day in and day out to get the job done and make ends meet. I know what it’s like to need to work 2-3 jobs at the same time to support your family and I’ve done it here in Huntsville. I have the unique opportunity to represent those who have faced the same challenges over the years.
I’m also the candidate that wants to fight the hardest to let you live your life as you see best fits your own personal needs so long as you do not aggress on another person or their property. I don’t think I know how you should live your life better than you do. You have your own unique set of experiences that makes you valuable and I want to enable you to leverage those gifts to make the world a better place.
Q. What will you do differently than the incumbent?
The most distinctively different initiative between me and my current representative will be my willingness to put myself out there to listen to the people. I believe I am the only candidate in my race with an existing campaign webpage and there I link not only my email address, but also a cell phone number anyone could text or call if they have questions or concerns for me regarding our district or my campaign.
Other initiatives I will be pushing for once elected include restructuring the budget to push for the city to cease charging a sales tax on groceries. Alabama is one of the few states that allows for the taxation of groceries. The council hold’s the ability to instantly reduce our resident’s grocery bills by 4.5%. The positive impact this would have on a family living pay check to pay check is hard to understate. Additionally, it would create a boom for our grocery retailers within the city as residents from surrounding localities would come here to make their purchases. A successful repeal would likely also encourage other communities in the area to follow suit to keep their residents shopping in their own districts. This could truly be a leading movement for the rest of the state to follow suit on. It would have a tremendous positive impact on those who need the financial help the most.
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?
Strong families are the building blocks to any strong community. I will push to work for a city that does everything it can to allow for families to build upon their core. The home is the central support structure in any individual’s life. It is important to make sure we give parents the opportunities to be there with their children teaching them the ways of the world. Giving them the support and structure they need to meet life’s challenges.
This includes also making sure our outdoor amenities stay maintained such as our parks and recreational facilities. Without pushing to raise the burden on tax payers, I will work to get local businesses and individuals to sponsor these improvements. This allows for the glass ceiling on what can be provided to the citizens to be shattered. We see it on every major stadium across the country, why shouldn’t the same concept be applied in our neighborhoods to maintain our basketball courts? These amenities provide the backdrop for many family activities, learning opportunities and memories.
I also want to work to make sure that should a family choose to do so, they can have children and afford to allow one parent to either stay at home or at least work from home. This opportunity can create stronger and more structured home lives for everyone. I know personally this has not been an option for me, but it is something I would like to be able to either offer to my wife or take advantage of myself given the opportunity. Make no mistake, that when I am elected I will do everything I can to go above and beyond the duties of the job, but I must admit that my dream job at the moment is to be a stay at home father.
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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.