Editor’s note: The News Courier will publish candidate announcements as we receive them and as space allows ahead of the Aug. 25 municipal election. Announcements should be no longer than 700 words and emailed to lora@athensnews-courier.com. They may be edited for length, grammar, style and content.

Mayor Ronnie Marks often says the best assets in the City of Athens are her people and their energy level.

"That energy level excites me for our city's future and is one of the main reasons I am seeking re-election to office," said Marks, who has served as mayor since 2010.

"My vision - our community's vision - for Athens is clear. We must continue to focus on public safety, education, economic development, quality of life, and improving city government operations," he said. "I humbly ask for your support to continue that vision and to support my 2020 campaign for re-election."

Marks has a history of public service, including serving on various boards such as Athens-Limestone Hospital Board, Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives Board, Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Foundation for Aging Board and Limestone County Economic Development Board. He currently serves as president of the Alabama League of Municipalities. Marks and his wife Sandra and grandson Quinton are members at Friendship United Methodist Church, where Marks occasionally teaches Sunday School classes.

Marks also volunteers with the City of Athens Relay for Life Team and Poke Sallet Follies. He is a member of Athens Rotary and a lifetime member of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

In 2012, Marks and members of his staff and community created the Athens Mayor's Youth Commission to encourage high school students in Athens to learn about local government's role and their role to be engaged and informed citizens.

"I am extremely proud of this program, because we have been able to pair students with community service projects, teach them about our city departments and give them the responsibility of overseeing a community grant program," Marks said.

The Alabama League of Municipalities has featured the program at conferences and work shops.

"These students are learning to take ownership in our city and share their ideas and concerns," he said. "In return, they are teaching us to be open about giving youth a voice and challenging them to use their talents to make a difference."

In addition to supporting educational programs such as Youth Commission, Marks also supports programs that address his focus on public safety, jobs and quality of life. Some of those programs include:

The Athens Police Department becoming one of the first agencies in North Alabama to utilize body cameras;

Removing unoccupied dilapidated and unsafe structures;

Expanding recreational opportunities such as a new rec center and expanded Sportsplex; and

Ronnie Marks

Ronnie Marks

Creating tax increment financing districts to encourage development and infrastructure improvements in blighted areas such as the former Pilgrim's Pride site.

Marks said as mayor he utilizes experiences from his previous service as a teacher, social worker, Vietnam veteran and Field Operations Manager for Gov. Bob Riley’s Emergency Relief Fund for Hurricane Katrina victims.

"I've been in the trenches with families in need, serving our country and rebuilding from natural disasters, and those humbling experiences serve me every day in this office," Marks said. "To me and my family, Athens is more than a home. It is also our heart. I love serving this City and am honored to serve as her mayor."

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