HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Mark Russell says he will not seek a 5th term as Huntsville's City Councilman for District 2. He has filled that position since 2002.
“It has been a high honor to serve the Huntsville community for so many years, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to help citizens with their needs,” said Russell. “I’m proud of my record and of the work we accomplished. It’s simply time for me to step in a new direction.”
Russell has served on the council for four consecutive four-year long terms. He was also elected to serve as president of the council 10 times. He ran unopposed in his last two elections.
We asked him why he wanted to step away once he finished his current term. He said things have changed a lot since 2002.
"When I ran for office, I was in my late 30's with two young children. I strongly believed that someone like me needed to be representing the city of Huntsville. And now, I'm a much older man with two adult children. It's a different stage in my life and a different stage in the city's life," he noted.
"I think it's time for me to step down and bring someone new in here who may be able to make the city even better by bringing in new ideas," he commented. "I strongly believe it's good for the city that politicians turn over and I think it is time for me."
Russell said some of the things he is most proud of are bringing amenities to the city and helping create a smoking ordinance.
"We didn't have a downtown hotel when I first was elected. The Embassy Suites wasn't there. We worked so hard to bring amenities downtown and you look at it now, and it's thriving," said Russell.
He said he loves being President of the council, representing the people, and being at the meetings. There is a bittersweet feeling as he thinks about saying goodbye. But he still wants to do a good job through the rest of his term, and leave the city in a good place.
"I'm at peace with my decision and I'm excited about this year, and I look forward to serving the community in some other capacity," Russell explained.
He added that his recent health scare following a collapse while he worked as a line judge at a Madison Academy football game had nothing to do with this decision. In fact, he said he had been thinking about it before that happened.
As for Russell's future, is another political office on the distant horizon?
"I'm still what I would consider a young man," he laughed. "I'm going to be active in the community and do things. I don't think I'll be active in politics, but I'm certainly going to participate in activities. Still work with the youth as much as I can."
That includes continuing to officiate games, which he said he would do, "God willing."
The next City Council election is in August of 2018. Three districts will be on the ballot, including Mark Russell's.
“Mark has been an exceptional leader for the City of Huntsville, one who put the public good before politics,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “He’s worked tirelessly for constituents and he took the time to understand all sides of an issue. I will greatly miss his dedication and selflessness.”