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City Council Runoffs: Answers from the Huntsville/Madison candidates

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - City council candidates in three districts from Huntsville and Madison will make one final push for office in the October 4th runoff. Those districts include Huntsville District 1, Madison District 1, and  Madison District 7.

Before the municipal election, we sent candidate surveys out to every candidate running. In case you'd like to revisit their answers ahead of the runoff, we've pulled them all together in one place.

If you need to check your district to see if you can vote in the Tuesday runoff,  you can search your district and polling place here.

Huntsville City Council - District 1
WHNT News 19 reached out to incumbent Richard Showers Sr. prior to the municipal election. He was in contact with WHNT News 19, but we never received answers.

1. What is the most pressing issue facing Huntsville today?

Devyn S. Keith: Quality of Life: The quality of life for North Huntsville residents is in need of an immediate bolstering. The quality of life issue is dependent upon a number of variables including education, crime, property value, land use, and equity in city services. The elected needs to bring detailed plans for economic change, outline specific redevelopment projects to regrow our business corridor, and propose practical solutions to increase family-based home ownership, which will in turn create a North Huntsville that attracts patrons and consumers from all of Huntsville

2. What is one practical, specific policy you would push to have implemented in your first year on the council?

Devyn Keith

Devyn Keith

Devyn S. Keith: Pipeline to Policing: This would be a community policing initiative that is bilateral between the departments of Community development and Huntsville Police Department. By actively recruiting a more diverse pool of officers (ethnic-minorities, women, etc...) drawn from the communities they eventually police, providing increased economic/professional incentives, and bolstering our existing citizen oversight committee we can increase the effectiveness of Huntsville policing while restoring trusting relationships with the communities that they serve

3. What worries you most about Huntsville currently?

Devyn S. Keith: What worries me most about Huntsville is the growing quality of life disparity between our districts. I discern two roots causes to this dilemma: ineffective municipal representation, especially for historically marginalized communities, and problematic social narratives affecting how certain communities are perceived. Huntsville is only as strong as its most vulnerable district, and as we expand we must do more to improve quality of life issues for those who often go voiceless through planning and policy.

4. What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

Devyn S. Keith: A PLAN: I’m the only candidate pushing for term limits (self-imposed), public audits and community involvement in public budgeting; therefore, I believe what differentiates our campaign from all others is that we have a plan that will grow our community past my tenure as councilor. It is the responsibility of the residents of a district to identify problems and concerns within the community, yet it is the duty of a city councilman to devise a plan to bring solutions to those issues. Our plan, based upon factual data and resident surveys, will bring achievable increases in property value, crime prevention, employment, economic development, resident retention, and public education to North Huntsville.

5. What about you might surprise voters?

Devyn S. Keith: I honestly never saw myself as an elected official. Because I’ve learned and worked on policy at the highest levels of government, I understand that throughout history it’s been tough legislation, progressive policy and self-sacrifice that has produced change, not one’s pandering, pride, or popularity

Madison City Council - District 1

1. What is the most pressing issue facing Madison today?

James Ross: Madison City Schools – Funding, Overcrowding, and the Tax Situation with Limestone County.

Maura Wroblewski: I believe the most pressing issue facing Madison is our stagnant growth in the retail area. Since the opening of the Target Shopping Center on 72 we have not added any major retail developments. If elected, I would work to bring on board a Retail Development Staff similar to what we had when we developed the Target four years ago.

2. What is one practical, specific policy you would push to have implemented in your first year on the council?

James Ross

James Ross

James Ross: Restructure Pay and Benefits for City Employee’s and First Responders to ensure that Madison is competitive with all other Alabama cities. This should stifle the rapid attrition of talent the city has been dealing with.

Maura Wroblewski: I would work very hard to bring a brick and mortar, No Kill, Foster Driven Animal Shelter to Madison. I have a plan to do this using private funding and not tax dollars. It would be run by Madison Animal Control and would be supported by a foster agency such as MARF or another pet rescue organization.

3. What worries you most about Madison currently?

James Ross: With the anticipated Western Growth I worry that without detailed coordination and synchronization the City will not be prepared to absorb the increased students in the Madison City Schools.

Maura Wroblewski: I am most concerned that we are landlocked by Huntsville and Madison and Limestone County with regard to retail growth and the difficulty there in increasing our sales and property tax base. I believe the Western Madison Growth Plan is a step in the right direction. I would work with our planning department, county and state agencies to bring those needed resources to Madison City.

4. What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

James Ross: I believe my 30 Years of strategic leadership experience in the US Army sets me apart. I have a proven background of teamwork, collaboration, and decision-making that is perfectly suited for the Madison City Council.

Maura Wroblewski

Maura Wroblewski

Maura Wroblewski: I have lived in Madison with my family since 1999 and my husband and I have raised our children here as they attended West Madison, Liberty and Bob Jones. I have been a community volunteer in many areas: PTA Board Officer, Bob Jones Crossing Guard, Youth Coach (baseball, softball, basketball and soccer), Chair of the Asbury Community Thrift Store for five years and am currently on the Madison Hospital Women's Council; my blood sweat and tears run deep in Madison. I work part time as Friday Evening Manager at the YMCA from 6 to 9, so I will have many hours to devote to the citizens of Madison.

5. What about you might surprise voters?

James Ross: I have gotten to know one of my opponents, Maura Wroblewski and I’m very appreciative of the positive campaign that she has run. District 1 has had a very professional overall campaign.

Maura Wroblewski: I was incredibly introverted as a child and even as a young adult. My father was in the Navy and so we moved every two to three years which made it difficult for me to form lasting friendships. After college graduation I went to work was a sales Representative for Kraft Foods and broke out of my shell.

Madison City Council - District 7

1. What is the most pressing issue facing Madison today?

John Seifert

John Seifert

John Seifert: Our most pressing issue is protecting our school system as our #1 asset and reason our city is so attractive to folks moving to this area. Our schools are being threatened by Limestone County’s refusal to send tax funding collected within Madison City limits and also overcrowding in our schools. We must come together as a team with our school system, Huntsville, Madison County and our state leadership to apply pressure upon Limestone county to comply with state superintendent direction and also identify a path forward to alleviate overcrowding.

Lena Sledge: Infrastructure. We need better planning of roads, traffic, and a strategic plan for walkways, sidewalks, and bike paths. 


2. What is one practical, specific policy you would push to have implemented in your first year on the council?

John Seifert: We want to see more priority and funding given to our current parks and recreational facilities, a new pool for our schools as well as our sidewalks and greenways. An investment in these areas is an investment in our families, children and future.

Lena Sledge

Lena Sledge

Lena Sledge: A strategy to widen Wall Triana to allow easier access to the retail establishments on Hwy 72, and to accommodate the increase in traffic from the Kroger located on Wall Triana and Brownsferry. In addition, collectively work with the other neighboring districts to create a proposal to construct sidewalks on Wall Triana, Gooch Ln and Balch Rd.

3. What worries you most about Madison currently?

John Seifert: Currently, our lack of ability to demonstrate teamwork, communication and leadership from our city government worries me and our district 7 constituents the most. We should focus on what is best for our districts and Madison first and put all else second. Our constituents deserve the very best from us and only with those qualities of dedicated teamwork, open communication and authentic and servant leadership will that be delivered.

Lena Sledge: Our city is experiencing growing pains and seems to have lost its long term vision for sustainable growth. We have an increase in residential growth, and not enough commercial and desirable retail growth. The city’s lack of preparation for the influx of new residents is evident by the poor planning regarding infrastructure, longer commutes due to congested traffic, our deteriorating roads and overcrowding in our schools. 


4. What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

John Seifert: I am involved in our community and have been ever since moving to the area in 2002 and Madison in 2004. I started in 2002 by coaching Madison City Pop Warner flag football and have continued involvement through coaching Madison City youth baseball, volunteering in Children’s' ministry at Asbury UMC, leading Den 8 of Cub Scouts Pack 351, Co-Chairing Columbia Elementary School's WatchDads-of-Great-Students (D.O.G.S.) and volunteering time and monetary donations to both Columbia (son attends) and Rainbow Elementary Schools (wife teachers here). We already invest our city, district and youth and would appreciate your vote to enable a larger platform to invest as your council representative for District 7.

Lena Sledge: District 7 deserves strong political leadership with an active voice that will speak on their behalf, as well as a thoughtful, dedicated councilwoman who will work in cooperation with the mayor to not only solve their quality of life issues, but also push for western economic growth for Madison as a whole. 


5. What about you might surprise voters?

John Seifert: The biggest surprise would be that I was raised by my grandparents whom were born before and experienced The Great Depression. Also, at the age of 9, I had to step up and lead our home due to my grandfather, an Ozark, AL policeman, being killed in the line of duty on 19 December 1987. I believe that is one of my greatest strengths is they work ethic and drive instilled in me at a young age.

Lena Sledge: I have a degree in Political Science from UAH, but I also attended school for filmmaking. I'm an award winning filmmaker. As a filmmaker, I'm most notably known for my web series, Unplanned Motherhood, based on my life as a wife and mother of five. All the actors were hired locally and have gone on to have wonderful careers in acting and modeling.