Frances Akridge, Mary Jane Caylor make final pitch to voters in Huntsville City Council runoff

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Tuesday’s runoff election in Huntsville will determine who will fill the seat being vacated by longtime councilman Mark Russell. Frances Akridge and Mary Jane Caylor are vying to represent District 2, which spans from Alabama A&M to Five Points.

The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Akridge won the first round of voting Aug. 28, nearly winning the race without a runoff.

WHNT News 19 asked the candidates what that margin means for Tuesday.

“What it says about my candidacy is that indeed I already represent the needs, desires, and priorities of the district,” Akridge said.

Caylor expects things will be different this time.

“Well I think it’s going well, and the way that I’ve looked at this whole matter is that after Aug. 28, this is a new election,” Caylor said. “No one won, no one lost.”

[Meet the District 2 candidates]

Caylor says her record of service, including as superintendent of the Huntsville City Schools, and her “conservative” approach, separate the two candidates.

“And getting the people to understand what we stand for, I’m a conservative,” Caylor said. “I think Huntsville is moving forward in so many positive ways, and I don’t want to see that stop. And I believe that I’m the person to help continue to move Huntsville forward.”

Akridge agrees there are differences.

“Oh, I certainly bring something different to the table,” she said. “I’m simply a fresh set of eyes, I have a unique skill set. I have experience in commercial real estate, civil engineering, planning and zoning including project management and contract management.”

Both candidates say they have experience that can help shape Huntsville’s economic future.

“I understand having a work ready force,” Caylor said. “When people are looking at Huntsville industry and business, I’ve worked with the chamber, I’ve worked with BRAC for six years in recruiting, so, this is my home and this means a lot to me, and I would hope that it means a lot to the people that are going to go to the polls and vote, to keep Huntsville moving forward.”

Akridge said she’s heard from District 2 residents about their concerns.

“I’ve spent a lot of time, investigating, talking to people and the priorities that have risen to the top, infrastructure, security and workforce development, all reflect what people are asking me to pay attention to,” Akridge said.

Both candidates said the high number of absentee ballot applications suggest there is interest in the race, even though it’s the only race on the ballot Tuesday.

“I feel that there’s a lot more attention, actually to this race,” Caylor said. “I’ve had a lot of people that have said to me, to my face, that are friends, ‘I did not vote, in the election in August, because I thought you would win, you’ve been around a very long time.’ I don’t mean that to be arrogant, but they’re going to the polls this time, because every vote counts, and I just feel really good about it.

Akridge said she favors smart growth for Huntsville and wants voters to walk into the voting both knowing how she is.

“Someone who has a backbone to ask good questions, and keep things going in the right direction, and that I’m not controlled by big money,” Akridge said. “That I’m controlled only by my moral compass, and the great commandment, and the small donations people have given me, because they have faith in me.”