One of the City of Huntsville’s greatest leaders is stepping down November 5. Council President Mark Russell will leave his post after 16 years of service representing the people in District 2.
During his tenure on the Council, Mark was elected by his fellow representatives to serve as President 10 times. He was known to run a tight meeting, listen intently and respectively to public comments, and work collaboratively with colleagues.
When conflicts arose, Mark could elegantly “agree to disagree,” and end the discussion with the impression that somehow the Council had elevated itself to a higher order.
Passionate about sports, kids, and his community, Council President Russell didn’t seek the limelight or descend into self-importance. He was humble, professional, and a noted watchdog on municipal expenditures.
Mark’s presence and advocacy will be missed in City Hall. From the team of City administrators, here are few more reasons why:
“Mark does a wonderful job of leading the Council meeting, maintains control, yet always is polite and respectful to fellow Council Members and the public alike. As the ‘new’ City Attorney, I very much appreciated how he never embarrassed me and always tried to provide a “heads up” as to any sticky issue he anticipated might arise so I could be prepared. He is a true gentleman and a role model to which future Council Members can aspire. He will truly be missed!” – Trey Riley, City Attorney
“The thing I admire most about Council Member Russell is his investment in understanding an issue from all sides before taking action. My favorite memory is his ability to run a City Council meeting. – Kenny Anderson, Multicultural Affairs Officer
“I admire the way Mark keeps the City Council meetings moving forward. He commands that order be kept but does so with respect. It is a special talent that Mark possesses, more so than anyone else I have seen preside over Council. He would have made a great Principal.” – Joy McKee, Landscape Management Director
“I always admired Council Member Russell’s willingness to value our thoughts and opinions about matters concerning our departments. He trusted the work and knowledge of the department and its team. Mark also had a big heart for youth. No matter how busy the Council agenda, he would always take the time during the meeting to acknowledge the youth visitors and thank them for coming. – Byron Thomas, Human Resources Director
“The one thing we admired about Council Member Russell was his willingness to go to any Opening Day or open any baseball tournament or athletic event. He was always willing to represent the City when it came to athletics.” – Steve Ivey, Parks & Recreation Director
“Mark Russell was a quiet servant leader with the community’s best interest at heart. While Mark worked diligently for the welfare of the entire city, he lived for sports, and attended any and all City of Huntsville athletic events. I remember when we went to have hitting practice with the Stars baseball team, Mark was first to show up and last to leave. He sat in the dugout like he was ready to be put in the game. Mark was always ready to be put into the game.” – Mayor Tommy Battle
“What I respected – among many things – was Mark’s open-mindedness. He seemed to approach every issue, every challenge, as a blank slate. You never got the sense that he’d made up his mind before hearing all the arguments or receiving all the information. He was also remarkably diligent in seeking out details so that he could, in fact, make an informed decision. To that end, what I most admired most was that once he’d come to that decision, he stood by it. Once he’d identified the proper course of action, he would defend it, and would not sway from the course. He was remarkably steadfast and true. His steady hand will be missed.” – Dennis Madsen, Long Range Planner
“His efficient manner of running the meeting and his knowledge of the rules of order.” – Shane Cook, Water Pollution Control Director
“Council Member Russell runs the Council meetings is an extremely efficient manner. He doesn’t waste time and he is very familiar with the rules of order. In short, come 6 p.m., he doesn’t stutter! While I’m sure he doesn’t like chastising Council Members (and citizens) in public, there have been several occasions where he didn’t hesitate to call out inappropriate behavior and keep control of the meeting. A true leader!” – Bill Steiner, ITS Director
“Having grown up in Huntsville, specifically District 2, it is evident the impact that Mark Russell has had on the District and the legacy he leaves for the future. He has been a tremendous advocate for recreation in Huntsville – something I had the opportunity to enjoy growing up and now get to see the benefit for my own children.
“I’ve long been impressed with Mark’s knowledge and ability to lead the Council meetings effectively and efficiently as President. Just being named Interim Director of General Services. I had several items on the agenda for my first Council meeting and a couple of them were held for explanation. I managed to get through the explanations, somewhat nervously I felt, and the next day, Council President Russell sent me an e-mail welcoming me to the new role and offering some supportive comments on the job I had done communicating with Council. For an experienced leader to go out of their way to offer that support to me really meant a lot.” – Ricky Wilkinson, General Services Director
“To me, Mark has always been a “voice of reason” on the Council. No matter what the issue, Mark’s stance and vote has always been what he thought was in the best interest of not only his District, but for all of the citizens of Huntsville. For many of us that have the challenge of chairing committees and meetings, Mark’s ability to keep our Council meetings professional and on task has served as a model to emulate. He constantly shows the strength of leadership while extending the utmost courtesy to everyone involved.” – Mac McFarlen, Fire & Rescue Chief
“Council President Russell has set the bar high for all that follow, and Huntsville is a better place because of his contributions.” – Harrison Diamond, Business Relations Officer
“The lasting image I will have of Mark Russell is of his interactions with Ms. Reed. Though he might have been all business during the business portions of the meeting, he always treated our designated gadfly with respect and kindness – even when it wasn’t necessarily reciprocated.” – Dennis Madsen, Long Range Planner