By Nick Nunn
Chris Hodges announced her candidacy in the Madison City Council District 5 race on Monday, July 29.
Hodges, the daughter of City of Madison Mayor Bruce Gilbert and Judy Gilbert, was “born and raised” in Madison and has been an agent for Madison Realty, Inc. since October of 1995.
Running for public office is something that Hodges says she has “been thinking about for a long time.”
Hodges stated during an interview Monday afternoon that Madison needs to “look at what we are doing right and advance that.”
In that vein, Hodges hopes that, if elected, she will be able to “promote a more business-friendly environment” in Madison by “rolling out the red carpet for businesses.”
“We’ve got to make sure our incentives are competitive,” said Hodges.
Madison will grow by creating a “self-sustaining community where people live, work and play,” continued Hodges, who stated that the development of more jobs in Madison will allow the city to perpetuate growth.
“There are people dying to work,” said Hodges. “They want jobs.”
Hodges stated that she has been affected personally and professionally by the economic hardships during the past five years and said that she has a “great empathy for the people that have struggled.”
Hodges speculated that many of the top graduates from Morgan County High School will end up finding jobs and creating lives elsewhere if Madison is not able to develop the types of employment opportunities that will entice them to remain here.
Furthermore, Hodges acknowledged that taking on the role of representative for District 5 would largely involve being aware of the constituents of that district and said that she would maintain an open-door policy for all constituents.
“Every area is going to have different needs,” said Hodges.
Hodges cited the need for sidewalks in the Beacon Heights area of District 5, where citizens often have to travel, some in wheelchairs, through tall grass in order to reach grocery stores.
Hodges stated that she believes a project to alleviate those issues could be started within the first year of her term.
In addition to repairing faults in the district, Hodges has an eye to “exploring possibilities” in Madison, such as creating a Wi-Fi network for the downtown area.
She also believes the community would benefit from streaming council meetings live on the web, or at least taping them and then putting them on the web, “for better transparency,” she said.
Hodges acknowledged that her position as a real estate agent could be looked upon negatively in terms of serving as an elected official, but she gave assurances that, in the event of a conflict, she would have no problem recusing herself from the issue.
Instead, Hodges stated that making the best out of Madison is what she has been doing for years as a realtor.
“Madison is what I sell!” said Hodges.
Hodges spoke highly of current District 5 Representative Michael Naples, who she has worked with during his last two campaigns, but stated that she would like to “bring a set of fresh eyes” to the council.
At the very least, Hodges hopes that her campaign will get the message out that Madison should be exploring new ways to create revenue and “help foster the environment where opportunity may grow.”