Promising the Moon: how a former council member inspired service

single-meta-cal September 5, 2017

On Aug. 10, 2017, Council voted to name the redevelopment project at the site of the old Grissom High School as the Sandra Moon Community Complex in memory of the late council member who served District 3 residents. Council President Jennie Robinson reflects on her mentor and friend.

For twelve years, Sandra Moon served on the City Council because she felt “service is the rent you pay for your time on earth.”

A true public servant, Sandra represented her constituents in South Huntsville with a unique combination of good humor, grace, and candor. In honor of that dedicated service, Mayor Battle and I recently drafted a resolution naming the Sandra Moon Community Complex, a new project planned for the old Grissom High School site on Bailey Cove Road. Our planning staff has begun to affectionately refer to it as “The Moon.”

The city will take over and renovate the two gyms and ballfields at the Moon Complex and add them to the city’s Parks and Recreation inventory. In addition, the new site will feature an arts center in a newly renovated auditorium managed by ArtsHuntsville (the folks who bring us Panoply every year). The highlight of the new complex will be a 35,000 square foot state of the art library that will replace the much smaller Bailey Cove Library.

No one would be more proud of the plan for the new complex than Sandra. She had a master’s degree in Library Science and loved libraries. She chaired the original steering committee for a new South Huntsville library and helped craft the vision for the library that will eventually anchor the Sandra Moon Complex.

She would probably also be the last person who would want the complex named for her. She had a servant’s heart and expected no rewards other than the knowledge that she had solved a problem for one of her neighbors. She walked through ditches, dealt with complaints about barking dogs, and responded to calls about potholes because she genuinely wanted to serve. She cared more about quality of life than about honors and accolades.

Sandra was my mentor and my friend. She had encouraged me to run for her old council seat just weeks before she passed away in 2013. When I called her husband, John, to tell him I had decided to honor her request to run for council, he launched right into campaign mode and started giving me the same great advice he used to give Sandra after every council meeting. He died five days later.

It was heartbreaking to lose them both, so close together. Sandra and John, a retired colonel, were a formidable team. One of my favorite memories is the signs John made when Sandra was campaigning with their daughter, Kelly. He made a sign for Kelly that said “Vote for my Mom” and then he made a sign for Sandra that said, “I’m Mom.” It was a great honor when he brought the signs to me and told me to use them in my campaign.

When I was sworn into office in City Hall, I dedicated my service to Sandra. As I conduct the Council work that Sandra humorously summed up as “roads, ditches, and garbage,” I remember her example of leadership. And I will think of her fondly each time I visit “The Moon.” As it becomes the center of South Huntsville and as the community attends performances, book clubs, and ball games in the complex that bears Sandra’s name, I hope they will also remember her and a life dedicated to community service.

Photo courtesy of