City Council At-large 4 - Mari and Pat.jpg

Editor's Note: The following is from our Candidate Q&A series. We hope the series will allow potential voters the opportunity to become familiar with candidates for Huntsville City Council and the Walker County Commissioners Court. The following is from incumbent Mari Montgomery and challenger Pat Graham, who will be running for the at-large Position 4 seat. 

Pat Graham

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge the City of Huntsville faces?

I believe that transparency in coming up with innovative ways to inform the citizens of Huntsville what the council is meeting on, to make them aware of what is happening and being voted on is vital. Not just for a select few, but for all. I also feel that making sure communication is open and citizens feel free to express their opinions is incredibly important.

Working with TxDOT and law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of our citizens during the expansion of I-45 keeping citizens informed. I believe there is only one race and that is the human race. I will work with community leaders to promote unity within our city. You must find common ground and be able to listen with an open mind.

Young people in our community — elementary school children, high school kids and college students — all tell us there isn’t enough to do in Huntsville. What can the city do to provide more activities for the community’s young people? Is there any way the city can try and attract more businesses that cater to families and young people?

After talking with citizens, I totally agree that there is very little for the younger population to do. I do understand that there is a skate park planned for next year. I would like to work on getting a sports complex that would have a multitude of uses, such as sports competitions with other cities and/or states, concerts, potentially partnering with SHSU for productions and maybe even car shows. This would also benefit our restaurants and hotels.

I have had other suggestions including adding a Main Event and an amphitheater. The city has property that could be utilized and grants may be available, also.

Is there a need for improved communication between the City of Huntsville and Walker County? If so, what would you do as a member of the city council to improve the working relationship between the city and the county?

There is always room for improvement. After talking with city and county officials, their opinion is that they have a very open line of communication, very much improved from the past. They are working together on all areas of government, striving to make our community a better and safer place for all.

Many of us moved to Huntsville or stayed here after college because of its beauty and small-town charm. Should the City Council consider any kind of zoning ordinances to protect the natural resources that make this part of Texas so special?

Huntsville is unique not only in its history and beauty, but we also have a great university and prison system. I feel that the zoning ordinances need to be reviewed and revised to protect the natural beauty and small-town charm, as well as the citizens.

What made you decide to run?

After calls and prayers, I decided to run for City Council Position 4 At-large. I have a vested interest in the city that I was raised in and raised my children in. Both my late husband Victor, who was the Sheriff, and I were very active in this community. The council must reflect the city's vision, they must serve all citizens. I believe in ensuring present and future citizens can raise their families in the beautiful and safe city of Huntsville.

Mari Montgomery

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge the City of Huntsville faces?

Continued monitoring of COVID-19 in our community and taking the rational steps to slow the spread and stop the spread as we move into our cooler weather. Continued responsible oversight of our infrastructure and planning for our growth.

Young people in our community — elementary school children, high school kids and college students — all tell us there isn’t enough to do in Huntsville. What can the city do to provide more activities for the community’s young people? Is there any way the city can try and attract more businesses that cater to families and young people?

I am in agreement. We desperately need more to do here in our wonderful town, especially for our young folks. I am very excited about news on the horizon regarding our new skate park. Council has already approved the funds and we are currently pinpointing a location for the park.

This combined with other projects like it and a friendlier landscape downtown for walking, riding bikes, and congregating will go far to attract new businesses and make our community stronger.

Is there a need for improved communication between the City of Huntsville and Walker County? If so, what would you do as a member of the city council to improve the working relationship between the city and the county?

There is always room for improvement when it comes to communication. I feel very strongly that this very issue needs to be addressed. It came to my attention in a huge way as we have navigated through the pandemic in Huntsville/Walker County. It continues to be important. Should I be re-elected, I will work toward a workshop for the city council regarding duties / responsibilities / decision making capabilities of county officials and city officials to bring clarity. This will be a significant first step towards better communication between the city of Huntsville and Walker County

Many of us moved to Huntsville or stayed here after college because of its beauty and small-town charm. Should the City Council consider any kind of zoning ordinances to protect the natural resources that make this part of Texas so special?

When I served on the Zoning Board of Adjustments, we dealt with this concern a lot. I specifically recall a council chamber full of concerned citizens where I, as vice chairman, presided over a meeting regarding the building of a multi-level student housing unit in the middle of a residential area. Ultimately, the vote was against the project.

I do believe that we need more zoning categories than we currently have which are: management, neighborhood conservation and cultural district (downtown area). These categories are not sufficient to maintain our small town charm. There is also more we need to do with sidewalk (continuous sidewalks) as well as more favorable conditions for those who wish to bicycle.

What made you decide to run?

In 2013, I was appointed to the City of Huntsville’s Zoning Board of Adjustments. I was then elected by my peers to serve as the vice-chair. This gave me an excellent opportunity to learn more about the needs of the community and the impact of our planning decisions on growth.

I decided to run for city council in 2018 and was elected. I am running for re-election, because I want to continue to serve in this capacity. I want to continue to be an advocate for citizens' concerns, serving all citizens of Huntsville. Together we are better!