A friend of mine, Joe Hubbard, a classmate from Huntingdon, is running for the Alabama State House from his home district which is based in the neighborhood of Cloverdale in Montgomery, Alabama. He recently agreed to do an interview with me for JuliusSpeaks. Here is what transpired.
1. What is the district you are running to represent? What are its parameters?
I am running for Alabama House of Representatives, District 73. The District extends from Cloverdale, east along I-85 to Taylor Road, runs south on Taylor Road to the Troy Hwy, the runs west to the Southern Blvd and on up Woodley Road. It encompasses many of Montgomery's neighborhoods, and includes a broad cross-section of our city's population.
2. How will your efforts in representing your district positively affect the city of Montgomery as a whole?
Montgomery is at its best when it has elected officials at all levels working together for the best interest of the people. We have seen our public officials in county and municipal governments work together to bring in Hyundai and other business and industries that have strengthened our local economy and helped our city weather the current economic climate. If our state officials collaborated with our local officials on issues such as these, we will continue to see positive results, not just in economic development but in education as well.
3. As a representative of the city of Montgomery, what would you do to improve upon the public transportation system that has been renewed in Montgomery in the past few years?
Our public transportation system in Montgomery has never been a priority for our elected officials because it has been seen as an issue that impacts only a segment of our population. But, to ignore this issue only disadvantages our city as a whole. Public transportation has a direct bearing, not just on those who cannot drive, but also on our local economy. Our city had the first electric rail system in the Country, and a light-rail transportation system in our city, today, will not only cut down on traffic and congestion but it will also give our citizens affordable and practical access to jobs and retail throughout Montgomery.
4. As a member of the Alabama State House, how would you vote in regards to such issues as legalized gambling?
Gambling is a moral issue that must be decided locally. Each county should have the opportunity to determine whether any gaming operations will be allowed within its borders. The gaming operations that are permitted to conduct business, however, must be taxed and regulated at a State-level. The gaming industry is the only industry in this State that does not pay taxes and is not subject to regulation. That must change if we are to move our State forward.
5. How would you go about improving the economy in the city of Montgomery, particularly for west side of Montgomery and those areas that have historically lagged behind the rest of the city in terms of development?
If we want to see the underdeveloped portions of our city thrive, we must invest in them. Only a few years ago, people complained that downtown was an eyesore and was increasingly dangerous. With some investment and infrastructure, downtown is becoming an attractive destination for businesses and citizens, alike. We must begin to invest in our underdeveloped neighborhoods, as we have in downtown. Our city is only as good as its least developed neighborhood, so we need to focus on infrastructure projects like the outer loop and a revitalized public transportation system to bring all parts of our city into the 21st century.
6. There are two sides of Fairview Avenue. One side of Fairview is a very nice, well-kept street. The other shows sign of economic depravation. How will you go about correcting this imbalanced picture?
To the extent you are talking about “East-West Fairview,” see number 5. To the extent you are talking about “North-South Fairview,” we must continue to provide the neighborhood associations the support they need to strengthen those communities. I live south of Fairview, and on the south-side, we may not have the fancy houses that line the north side of the street, but we take pride in our neighborhood. Critical to any city are strong neighborhood associations, and our neighborhood association is one of the more active associations on this side of town. Our neighborhood associations must have the support of our local officials if they are to continue to thrive and strengthen our neighborhoods.
7. Do you believe that public transportation is a right or a privilege?
Honestly, I think the whole "right/privilege" debate is misplaced on a lot of issues. The rights vs. privileges debate ends up dividing people who might otherwise agree that proposal at issue could better serve the social AND economic needs of the people. Although I have never heard it put in terms of right vs. privilege, public transportation fits that mold exactly. It is an issue that addresses the social needs of our community, but that, when done right, just makes economic sense.
8. What is the platform that you are running on?
It is time we begin the hard work of building a Montgomery that our children can come home to, a Montgomery with schools that will educate their children and jobs that will support their families. We must have an education system that focuses on investing in the programs that work and reinvesting wasteful expenditures were they are most effective, and we must have economic development that will attract businesses and industries that provide strong and stable jobs to lift our local economy. By the same token, we must have restore trust and confidence to our public offices with meaningful reform of the way business is conducted in our Statehouse. These three priorities that are the key to a better Montgomery and a more prosperous Alabama.
9. Would you encourage Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby, and others in the congressional delegation from Alabama to cooperate President Obama in his efforts to reform the healthcare system in this country?
Absolutely. Healthcare is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue; it is a people issue. And, it is going to take all of our congressional delegation, Democrats and Republicans, working together to find a common solution to an issue that affects all Alabamians.
10. What distinguishes you from other candidates in this race or from other politicians in the state of Alabama?
I am not a politician. I am a life-long resident of Montgomery who is committed to raising his family in this city. I cannot afford to wait on the career politicians to solve the issues that directly impact our families and our future. Our State is living on borrowed time and borrowed money because those career politicians lack the courage to tackle the tough issues. Issues like education, ethics reform, and economic development are not going to resolve themselves, and we need a citizen lawmaker representing Montgomery who is in the business of solutions, not soundbites.
11. Do you have any comments that you would like to leave us with?
I inherited my commitment to public service from my great-grandfather, and namesake, Joseph Lister Hill, an Alabama Congressman and Senator for nearly a half-century. Like my great-grandfather, I understand that good government is not about political parties; it is about people, and good government is responsive to the needs of all people of all parties. I intend to bring to the Statehouse a spirit of cooperation and statesmanship that will that will put our government back to work for each and every one of us.
12. Thanks for agreeing to this, Joe.