The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

August 12, 2012

Election 2012: Athens City Council District 4 – Q&A with Jim Hickman

The News Courier

Name:  James “Jim” L. Hickman

Age:  69

Occupation:  Retired accountant with over 40 years’ experience

Education:  Degree from Draughons Business College, Paducah, Ky.;  studied at Southern Illinois University and Calhoun Community College

Previous political experience:  Currently serving as councilman for District 4

Community involvement: Member of First Baptist Church Athens

Personal: Wife Dana; three children, Steve, Susan and Ron; and 12 grandchildren

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

Hickman: Our issues in District 4 include infrastructure such as paving, drainage and neglect from property owners that will not step up and maintain their properties in a responsible manner. 

Some of the citizens of District 4 have expressed concerns regarding safe neighborhoods free from vandalism, drugs and other crime.  Burned-out homes left unattended by the property owner invites infestation of vermin and other potential dangers.

Area developments and future developments should be held accountable regarding the ordinance on weed abatement. All these items only decrease property values for District 4 and the city of Athens. 

We need to take a more in depth look at funding for paving Hine Street north of Washington, south to Browns Ferry Street and paving Washington from the new fire station west. After two years of the sewer line settling in Glenn Valley subdivision, it is past time to repave East and West Glenn Valley. 

District 4 has some large drainage ditches throughout the area and we need to maintain and keep them cleaned out.  Watercress subdivision should be mowed regularly without the city having to go through the lengthy legal process to have the developer maintain the unsold lots.  

To correct the drainage and paving issues, we need to work with the Athens Public Works, the sewer department and the mayor’s office. In addition, we need to encourage the police enforcement officer to enforce the ordinance regarding unkempt properties and weed abatement.  We need to encourage the police department to keep up the neighborhood patrols to help reduce crime.

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?

Hickman: There are many quality of life amenities that are important for the citizens of Athens.  As mentioned in the Wednesday edition of the News Courier, I feel it is of the utmost importance we continue supporting our Athens City School System and assure our students that we are going to provide them with the best possible secondary education they can receive. 

Young people are the future of Athens. They need to know that after graduation they can obtain a good paying job and be able to live in Athens enabling us to be the progressive city we need to be in order to grow. 

The financial support the city gives to the school system must stay intact and as your councilman, I will work to that end.

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?

Hickman: As your councilman, I will continue to be proactive working with the sate senators and representatives to assure the citizens of Athens will have their best interests represented. 

If the DOJ approves the redistricting, staying in constant contact with the senators and representatives is the only way to receive fair representation. That may require trips to Montgomery to meet on issues that would adversely affect the citizens of Athens.