Meet the Candidates: Isaiah Sankey

By on 7 February, 2011 in Government, Kate and Stephen, Legal Issues with 0 Comments

On March 8th, much of Midtown will go to the polls to elect a new representative for District 7 of the Montgomery City Council. Now that Martha Roby has gone off to Washington to represent Montgomery in Congress, eight candidates have qualified for the special election to replace her. Roby told us last week that she won’t be endorsing anyone in the race, saying that residents of District 7 are smart enough to make a good decision about who will be represent them on the council. Midtown Montgomery Living will be interviewing candidates throughout the month and posting results as we get them. Candidates submit their answers to MML in writing and the only edits we make are for grammar or punctuation. Next up is Isaiah Sankey.

What do you do for a living?

Small business owner. Co-owner of Isaiah’s Restaurant and the Butterfly Inn Bed and Breakfast at 135 Mildred Street. In addition, I am a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner in collaboration with Dr. Doyin Ogunbi at 1722 Pine Street, Suite 1005, here in Montgomery

What is your educational background?

Graduate of the Troy University School of Nursing. Also served as a Captain in the United States Army during Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

Are you married? Any children?

Married to Johnnie Chambers Sankey for 32 Years. Father of two adult sons DeAndre and LaDerrick.

How long have you lived in Montgomery?

I was born in Montgomery, and have lived in Montgomery most of my life.

Does your campaign have a website?

Find me on Facebook at Elect Isaiah Sankey Montgomery City Council District 7.

Why are you running for city council?

I am running for City Council because friends and family members encouraged me, and after careful consideration, I decided that it would be good for my community. So many hard working people have given up on our government’s ability to get anything of significance accomplished, and I have often heard them say, “Nothing is going to change; they are going to do just what they want to do.”

I am simply not willing to accept this as being the norm. I am interested in accountability and accessibility. I believe that this is still a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. An opportunity to serve as an elected official should result in an obligation to address the needs of the people. This can be accomplished by encouraging everyone to become involved in the process. You must take the issues to the people when they are either unwilling or able to come to you.

How many council meetings have you attended?

I have attended several council meetings over the past 12 months.

Who do you think is the most effective current council member, and why?

I believe that all of the current council members are capable, however, I have not observed any particular leadership behavior that could be characterized as exceptional.

What did you think of Martha Roby’s time as D7 rep on the council? Did she do a good job?

I can say from a personal perspective that Ms. Roby was accessible.

What distinguishes you from your fellow candidates?

It is readily apparent that unlike the other candidates, my investments in District 7 have not been all about personal gain of career mobility for myself. But rather, my focus has been on creating jobs for the working poor who contribute to the tax base of Montgomery.

In addition, we have established a health clinic that addresses the health care needs of the working man or woman who is uninsured. My investment in the City of Montgomery and District 7 in particular was prompted by a personal commitment to help revitalize a portion of one of the poorest census tracts in Montgomery County. No other candidate has invested in the infrastructure of the district to the extent that we have, and our presence has demonstrated a commitment to the community and a dedication to progress.

Our schools are also important to our community, which is why Isaiah’s Restaurant has started a program called Read and Write to Satisfy your Appetite. This program was unveiled at ED Nixon Elementary School, and provides pencils and composition notebooks to all 4th graders. They are encouraged to develop their writing skills by comparing and contrasting the Alabama that they read about in the history books with the Alabama that they live in everyday. The most creative writings will be recognized at a special dinner sponsored by Isaiah’s Restaurant.

The City Council seems like a ‘full-time part-time job.’ How do you plan to make time in your schedule?

Serving on the City Council is not a full time job, however, my commitment to serve all of the people of District 7 will be a full time commitment. Owning my own business is certainly a challenge, however, it also gives me the luxury of having a flexible schedule.

What are the major issues that you see confronting District 7?

One major issue is neighborhood revitalization. There are far too many boarded up structures in District 7. Also, identifying new revenue streams without imposing any additional fees or taxes on working families or small business owners is important to me. Theft and vandalism are also issues that have caused some residents to be concerned, however, the mayor has reported at one recent meeting of neighborhood leaders that crime was down in Montgomery. Of course, if you were a recent victim, this announcement probably does not offer much comfort.

What do you intend to do to solve those issues?

I have been encouraging neighbors to get to know their neighbors and develop strong neighborhood watch programs, secure your possessions, and notify the police when you notice suspicious behavior in your neighborhood. Ask God to give you a discerning spirit on who to trust and who not to trust, but please do not allow yourself to become a prisoner in your own home.

There are some creative ways that we can approach neighborhood revitalization that would require a public/private initiative. I need to see what is already in place and get to appreciate the city’s commitment to this process. I plan to listen very carefully to department heads and gain clarity on the structure and function of each department. In addition, I will scrutinize the current and future budgets to identify possible cost savings measures. I need to look at the budget as a duly elected official prior to making any recommendations, however, I would be in favor of holding off on all but essential contracts at this time.

I would not be in favor of paying to conduct any further studies regarding land use, neighborhood revitalization, or minority participation, unless the level of expertise required exceeded the intellect of those who have been elected to the council to make decisions that are in the best interest of the city.

What is your position on residential recycling?

Recycling is a good idea if the city can earn a profit while protecting the environment. I would hope to develop this as a school project that is supported by the city and the funds generated would go to the schools to help purchase supplies.

What should the City Council do about urban blight?

Urban blight is not the sole responsibility of the city, however, I do believe that the city should offer some incentives to individuals who are willing to make an investment in areas of the city where urban blight is an issue. As I see it, both the city and the residents of a particular neighborhood have the responsibility for litter control and general upkeep of the neighborhood. Zero tolerance for litter around each private residence would certainly help the problem.

Is SmartCode good for Cloverdale?

Smart Code would be more appropriate in areas where dry cleaners, bakeries, health clinics, and restaurants already exist and where urban blight is a problem.

In a world where higher taxes seems to be totally off the table as an option for raising revenue, what ideas do you have for filling the hole in the city’s budget? If you think programs and services can/should be cut, please be specific about which ones and how much.

I need to take a careful look at the budget before making any specific recommendations. My position on this issue has been addressed in part with the above comments in item number 13 (about solving the city’s problems).

What is something people should know about you but don’t?

The people of Montgomery can ask me any intelligent questions that they feel are relevant to this race. I look forward to serving, and please know that you will have a friend on the council. I am committed to the community, and dedicated to progress.

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