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 Tommy Battle
Q. What do you see as the top three most pressing issues facing Huntsville today? What are your plans to address those issues?
I believe our biggest challenges and my current priorities are:
Workforce development. We have to recruit, recruit, recruit and then train, train, train. Huntsville deserves the best and the brightest in every field – from plumbing to aerospace. From becoming a Music City to expanding our greenways to ensuring housing is accessible for all, we’ve got to stay focused on recruiting people to our city. That’s how we grow our tax base, fulfill our commitments to companies who’ve moved here, and keep our housing market strong.
Managing Huntsville’s growth. With more than 30,000 new jobs here, or on their way here, we are already seeing the effects of that growth. Seven years ago, we embarked on the $250 million Restore Our Roads project to prepare our infrastructure for this growth. It’s been a success with still more improvements in the pipeline. We added a fiber network, beefed up our parks and greenways, built new schools, and much more. While we’ve done much of the work, there’s still more to do. Growth can be positive or it can be painful if it’s not measured and managed well, and my team has the experience necessary to lead us through the next phase of our growth – especially as we come out of the pandemic.
Working together. Navigating the relationships when serving as Mayor of a growing major city is challenging. However, I believe we’ve got everyone in the right seat and we’re moving forward, together. The past twelve years of success shows we know how to do this job and my team does it well. My past experience as a small business owner gives me the ability to meet people where they are and find the best outcome for all parties; I’ll continue leading this way.
Q. Why do you believe you are the right person for this office?
I have always felt called to public service. The last 12 years have given me the opportunity to work with our team to make real, lasting change in our community. Being Mayor is like coaching. You develop excellent teamwork, listen to the experts, design the plays, and then execute.
There’s no playbook for 2020, though. It has been uniquely challenging, to say the least. I believe now is the time for consistent leadership from someone with a proven track record. My background in public service – and my prior experience owning a restaurant and a real estate business – prepared me for serving as Mayor, and with the way 2020 has gone, experience is vital. Our team in this community, from our administration and city council to our school board to non-profit organizations and churches is like no other, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done together. There’s plenty of work left to do, and I am asking voters for the opportunity to continue working for them.
Q. If you are currently serving in this position, what new or existing initiatives do you look forward to working on?
In the short term, how we weather the economic fallout from COVID-19 is vital to Huntsville. Thankfully, our sales tax revenues are doing relatively okay despite the pandemic. Our lodging taxes have taken a hit, but once Redstone Arsenal is back to normal operations we’ll see a rebound there. Lodging taxes affect our tourism entities, so we may need to support them in the short term. We’ll also support our schools as they begin virtually and then, hopefully, reopen in person.
As we look to the future, post-pandemic, we have some major projects on the horizon to add to our quality of life and give people even more reason to want to live in Huntsville. From revitalizing North Parkway to a new life for Joe Davis Stadium, the demolition and rebirth of Haysland Square on South Parkway, a new amphitheater, nearly 150 miles of greenways and so much more; these new offerings will add to the many quality of life projects we’ve completed since 2008. I am proud of our recent projects – completed or started within the last 12 months – to include Lantana Park, the gateway to north Huntsville; the Mark Russell Community Center, our first community center in the Hampton Cove/Taylor Lane area; our new nature park named after Dallas Fanning in the Martin/Zierdt Road area and finally the new development called Hays Farm in South Huntsville. Add to that two new libraries, more greenways, the widening of Cecil Ashburn, a Northern Bypass, a six lane I-565 and the Holmes Avenue corridor expansion — we have a lot of exciting things in place for the near future. Every corner of our city is important, and I’m excited to see our entire community enjoy these new amenities as they open.
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?
When my son Drew announced he was moving home to Huntsville, my wife Eula and I were overjoyed. He and his wife, Lauren, are raising their boys here because it’s a great community to live, work, and play in (and we do A LOT of playing with George and Benjamin).
My vision is that families are able to create the life they envision for themselves here. Whatever that path looks like when it comes to housing, schooling, work life; I want families to find the freedom to do whatever is best for them here in Huntsville. My aim is to run an efficient, safe, fun city, spending taxpayer dollars wisely on investments that make life in Huntsville the best it can be. It seems simple, but it needs to be a balanced approach.
Specifically for families over the next few years:
- Continue improving school facilities throughout the city
- Encourage growth in all types of housing; including multi-family, single family homes and urban mixed-use developments
- Continued focus on our roads and infrastructure, aiming for safety and ease of use
- More parks and greenways in every district of the city
- Support of our cultural attractions and the opportunities they offer local families
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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.