Martin ready to continue years of service

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 12, 2004

Jean Martin, one of two candidates for City Council, Ward 3, in the Sept. 14 run-off, believes that Selma is on the right track as it moves into the future.

Martin has devoted a lifetime to the city in which she was born and raised, much of it in the realm of public service.

Martin has lived in Selma except for those years when she traveled with her husband and children when he was in active military service.

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Upon his retirement from active duty, the family returned to Selma.

Martin was first elected to the council in 1993 in a race against two men running for the council for an open position. She was re-elected in 1996.

In 2000 she had no challengers.

If elected on Sept. 14 she will begin her fourth term on the council.

Martin’s campaign slogan this year – “One City, One Community” – is the same as when she ran the first time, and she believes that all her efforts in politics and otherwise have been focused on these twin goals.

“Selma is my birthplace and still my home, by choice, and I am proud to be one of its citizens,” she said in her announcement for re-election.

“During my previous terms of office I have worked to make my slogan a reality, and we have enjoyed some success,” she said.

Martin cites her chairing of a group of local women who served as hostesses at the National Voting Rights Museum during the 30th observance of the Selma to Montgomery March and plans to be involved in the 40th anniversary celebrations next year.

“I plan to continue working to ensure that all our residents enjoy equally the advantages and benefits of local citizens – in education, in business, in civic affairs,” she said.

Relevant involvements include Youth in Government which she helped organize during her first term; her efforts to secure Colin Powell’s America Promise for the youth of Selma; and her involvement in YouthBuild.

Martin notes that in her previous term she was highly active in “Reading Is Fundamental,” an annual book give-away for students, and development of the 2020 Plan, in which she chaired Community and Economic Development, one of several council-community committees working with an Auburn management team planning for Selma’s future. She also chairs the city’s Community and Economic Development Committee, that, she maintains, relates well to her regional and national service on the CED Policy committees of both the Alabama League of Municipalities and the National League of Cities, where she serves on the Policy Committee.

Martin believes that these outside involvements have served the city well during her previous terms, enabling her to make contact with key figures with the authority to make positive things happen in Selma through funding and other avenues.

Martin also holds membership on the Community Education Advisory Committee of the State Department of Mental health, serves as vice president of the Advisory Council to the C.I.T.Y. program

which opens paths to success for young people, is a member of the board of the Paul Grist YMCA, chairs the board of the Striplin Performing Arts Centre and is a member of the Head Start Committee of the Community Action Agency.

One of Martin’s priorities for her fourth term is building on her involvement in one of her “favorite projects” – co-sponsoring the Historic Downtown Selma Beautification Project, which oversees planter beds throughout downtown Selma. The beds are maintained by the clients of Cahaba Mental Health Helen McGill Greenhouses, which she believes to be a cutting-edge program in the state.

In deteriorating sections of the city, Martin proposes intensive anti-litter campaigns and, in time, rehabilitation of these houses.

Her vision includes the building of pocket parks on vacant lots and in some cases clearing totally dilapidated houses and buildings to make way for such parks, that might include as well space for neighborhood vegetable and flower gardens.

Martin also places a high priority on completing property purchases on the Alabama River bank which will enable a major redevelopment project that will serve both local residents and attract tourists.

All such efforts are based on the firm conviction that tourism – with which Martin has been involved for more than two decades – is a vital key to Selma’s future.

In that regard she is proud of the museum which she serves as curator – The Old Depot – which she helped found before she became its head, and the three others in town.

Through the years, Martin has been both an avid student of local history and a promoter of its writing and preservation of the past.

As museum curator and member of City Council, Martin believes that she is well situated to be an active force for preserving the city’s heritage while using it to promote tourism which, in part, provides the economic base for an expanding community with a better quality of life for all.

Martin is pleased with the progress being made on the economic development front, especially the new Hyundai-related plants going in the Craig Field industrial park and expansion in the South Dallas Industrial Park.

She also hopes, finally, for the completion of work on Highway 80 West to the Mississippi line, a highway, sadly, on which her husband was killed returning from Montgomery

years ago. She recalls that she had just been to a meeting in Montgomery shortly before the accident in which state officials had promised swift completion of the roadway improvements.

Regarding tensions between the police department and the mayor and council in the past, Martin hopes for improvement. While she said emphatically that she has never “rubber-stamped” the mayor’s programs, she does believe it inappropriate for members of Council and other city officials to argue their points in the newspaper or on television.

“If they’ve got a problem, then they should go to the mayor like I do – privately – and work it out,” she said.

“Personally I find him (Mayor James Perkins Jr.) easy to work with,” she said.

Martin, a widow for almost 30 years, has two sons and a daughter, and three grandsons. She is a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.