The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

August 12, 2012

Election 2012: Athens City Council District 4 – Q&A with Joseph Cannon

The News Courier

Name: Joseph Allen Cannon

Age: 31

Occupation: Material planner with Northrop Grumman

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business management, Athens State University

Political experience: New to politics

Community involvement: Friendship United Methodist Church; former Athens Police Department reserve; supporter of Read Across America by reading to young students and performing as The Cat in the Hat for two consecutive years; mud volleyball; Ice Cream Crank-off; and previous winner of the Big Spring Park Fishing Derby many great years ago. My family donates to Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital, which unfortunately, has direct ties to our community from time to time. After a bad storm, my chain saw and I have, and will continue to be, quick to respond. 

Personal: Wife, Alisha; son, Tanner Wyatt Cannon; and daughter, Addison Blair Cannon

What is the biggest issue or issues facing District 4 and what specific plans do you have to address them?  

Cannon: I’m going to echo other candidates by saying that public works are a priority. 

I’d love to see the day when sidewalks connect all areas of District 4, when the residents’ all have the option of sewer in place of septic tanks, and when all roads are safely surfaced. However, until someone invents indestructible asphalt, road upkeep will be an ongoing reality. 

Sidewalks and sewer lines will always remain near the top of my desired additions.  All these can become a quicker reality if we eliminate wasteful spending in city government. We have to find new ways to improve efficiency and spend less money. 

As a councilman, I will ask the question “why” quite often. I want to know why we are spending money and why the expenditure has priority at that time.

The citizens of District 4 deserve to know why their money is being spent. If any citizen asks me to explain any expenditure, they will receive the absolute honest reason for the expenditure. I believe accountability improves when every action of the City Council is visible to the voters.

Quality of life amenities like public safety, education, parks and entertainment are issues city officials often place importance on. Which amenity do you feel is most important, and what steps will you take to ensure it receives full financial support from the City Council? 

Cannon: Public safety and education are the obvious big ones. We all want our kids to be educated and kept safe so they can take care of us 30 years from now.

In all seriousness, public safety is the most important service Athens can offer to her residents. Too often, the importance of public safety isn’t realized until an unfortunate event occurs.

Concerns of public safety will always be a priority for me. Before taking any action as a councilman, I will consider the public safety concerns of the action. I will always make funding for public safety a priority.  Any suggestions on public safety, regardless of what district, or better yet what state the resident is from, will receive genuine consideration from me.  

Education is not just an investment we make for our children, but it is also a major factor to out-of-town homebuyers and industries considering a move to Athens.  I wish to stay in close contact with our schools’ teachers and staff so that we can achieve positive impacts and dream up some big plans, too. After all, I am a product of Athens City School System and I know the strengths and needs of our schools. 

I will work to be sure our schools have the tools they need to remain among the best in the state.  I’d love to talk parks and entertainment to anyone that asks, as well.

The U.S. Department of Justice is currently reviewing state redistricting plans that would give Limestone County eight total representatives. As a councilman, what will you do to ensure Athens’ interests are represented in Montgomery? 

Cannon: This decision has matured enough to where it is out of our hands now, and in the hands of the Department of Justice. If this does go into effect, we will have to enhance our communication, across the entire county, to the highest mark possible. 

A dividing line does not have to divide values. Hard working citizens tend to share the same position, when consistently informed.

It’s beginning to be clear that this municipal election will bring the opportunity for tremendous improvement of communication between citizens and elected officials, allowing for all to ban together on the greatest issues.

We must adapt each level of government to this same blueprint of initiative.  At that point, our representation will survive any revisions that are perceived to disrupt our shared voice.