Meet the Candidates: Arch Lee

By on 14 February, 2011 in Government, Kate and Stephen, Legal Issues with 1 Comment

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 Arch Lee. You can see the other candidates here.

What do you do for a living?

I’ve worked in the state government and in government affairs for the past 15 years and have broad experience in different areas of the political process. For the past 10 years, I’ve owned and operated my own government affairs firm where I worked with the legislature, the governor’s office, and other government agencies.

What is your educational background?

I attended The Montgomery Academy and graduated from Saint James High School in 1990, and then attended the University of Alabama. I earned an Associate in Arts degree from Marion Military Institute and a Bachelor of Science in Management of Human Resources from Faulkner University here in Montgomery.

Are you married? Any children?

Yes. I’ve been married for the past 14 years to Charlsi. We have four children — our oldest, McDowell, and the triplets, McKay, Anne Layton, and Arch Jr.

How long have you lived in Montgomery?

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

Does your campaign have a website?

No. I do have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/archleecampaign.

Why are you running for city council?

My family has literally been in public service for generations and I want to honor that legacy and carry it into the future. My father was mayor of Clio and then went on to serve in the legislature. I also had two great uncles that served in the legislature and one later became Lieutenant Governor. My wife and I are raising our children here and it’s important to us that the district improves and thrives, that we make a commitment to make it a safer and better place to live. I also believe that I have the ability to make positive changes to the district and to the city. And, I do honestly believe that I am the best person for the job.

How many council meetings have you attended?

Several over the years. The last one I attended was in December. I found them to be very interesting and look forward to being a part of the process.

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

I don’t think I would single out any one person over the others. It’s a council and it only works when the members work together.

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

I think Martha did a good job representing the people of this district and think that she will continue to represent the people of our district in Washington. I think she was extremely effective at bringing people together and made an honest effort to represent the interests of everybody in the district.

What distinguishes you from your fellow candidates?

My work experience gives me invaluable background in the way government works. I think that this experience gives me insight into the way to handle city business effectively — more effectively than my fellow candidates. Also, my work in government affairs has given me a wealth of experience in mediating between two parties with different goals and desires and finding solutions to satisfy both. I am an effective communicator and I can find the compromises that bring people together and create new opportunities.

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

I have time in my schedule. I wouldn’t be running if I thought it would take away from my time with my family, I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think the time I give is worthwhile, and I wouldn’t be running if I thought that I couldn’t give the people of District 7 the attention and time they need. Life is about balance and taking advantage of opportunities as they come. The opportunity to work with the City Council representing District 7 is an opportunity to give back to the city and a chance to make the district a better place and I look forward to devoting my time to the job.

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

I see urban blight as a major issue affecting the district. Urban blight also brings other problems with it, problems like increased crime and decreased investment, above and beyond the fact that it’s ugly and unsafe. It’s a problem that affects all of Montgomery, and not just District 7, and it’s something that the city council needs to take charge of and address.

I also feel that Montgomery’s lack of a residential recycling program is an issue we need to address. The program was cut by the City Council in 2009 to make up for a budgetary shortfall that made the old recycling program too expensive to maintain. The City Council needs to bring a recycling program to Montgomery that will not only save money, but also generate revenue and create jobs.

What do you intend to do to solve those issues?

I intend to get involved with neighborhood associations and homeowners to discuss what they feel are the best ways to deal with blight. I want to hear what the people in the district have to say about the problem and create solutions based on that. In some cases, I think the best solution will be to try to repair existing structures and give them new life — like what the city is doing on Dexter Avenue. In other cases, the best thing to do might be to get rid of burned out or condemned buildings and old billboards that are beyond repair. We need to work together to find solutions that work for everyone.

Recycling is another issue that I think we need to come together to address. I feel like the 30% of the city’s residents who participated in the original program deserve the option of curbside recycling, and that we can probably get the entire city to participate in the program if we go about it the right way. I also think that there’s an opportunity for new recycling ideas that will not only save the city money, but also will generate money for the city and create jobs for the people who live here.

What is your opinion on residential recycling?

It should be a priority for the city. Many of the people I’ve spoken to in my district support residential recycling and want to bring a residential recycling program back to Montgomery. I know that the city council cut the program 2 years ago to save money, and I think that it was a difficult decision made necessary by the recession. Mayor Strange wanted to bring a recycling plant to the city to replace the old program, but it turned out that it would not produce the desired return for investors. Now is the time to start looking for other alternatives that will produce returns for investors and for the city.

What should the City Council do about urban blight?

The City Council should reach out to neighborhood and homeowners’ associations and to businesses in their districts and determine what they think is the best way to handle blight on a case by case basis. I think that the City Council needs to help preserve the character of our neighborhoods and to make sure that the people living in our neighborhoods are included in the process. Some urban blight, some buildings or billboards, are beyond repair and need to be demolished so that we can attract new business, new investment, or new development. Some blighted buildings can be repaired and given new life — like some of the historical buildings on Dexter Avenue. That is a very exciting project and will give downtown Montgomery new energy and new opportunities and I think that we can replicate the success that we’re already seeing downtown in other parts of the city.

The one thing we can’t do is ignore the problem.

Is SmartCode good for Cloverdale?

Yes. I think SmartCode is good for Cloverdale. It already has broad support from businesses and neighborhood associations in Cloverdale. Beyond the existing support, I feel like it is the opposite of urban sprawl. It’s bringing investment and attention back to the heart of Montgomery and not sending it out east. Also, the plan makes every attempt to keep the history and existing charms of the neighborhood intact and that it will help maintain the historical integrity of the area while turning an eye towards the future.

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 won’t suggest that any one thing should be cut. I will say that I am firmly committed to going through the budget with the City Council and determining ways to better spend existing money. There are always ways to improve the way we handle what we have.

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

I live on the same street now as I did when I was growing up. I am very much committed to this district.

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  1. Jay Croft says:

    He’s a lobbyist.

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