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John Olshefski: Short Bio
With nearly 30 years of executive experience in service to our country and more recently with the Tennessee Valley communities and businesses, John Olshefski will bring his passion for progress to the Huntsville City Council.
Hailing from Brunswick, Georgia, he attended The Citadel and then rose through the ranks in the United States Army holding numerous command and staff positions and retiring in 2008 as a Colonel. Upon retirement, he was selected to enter into the Senior Executive Service for Army Materiel Command. He and his wife of 29 years, Sharon, made Huntsville, Alabama their permanent home.
With public service as his true calling, he is now employed with BFA systems as a Business Development Executive -- a position that allows him to have the opportunity to pursue serving District 3 on the Huntsville City Council.
Proven Leader - Real Results
The city council must be responsible for ensuring good stewardship of the public's finances. It must be remembered that every dollar the city generates in taxes comes from the people and that the money must be used wisely. I have hands-on experience overseeing a $130M dollar budget as the Garrison Commander of Redstone Arsenal from June 2005 - July 2008. During that time I was responsible for providing all the services and programs expected of a major DOD facility despite budget shortfalls of $20M. This experience, coupled with a Masters Degree in Strategic Resourcing from the Industrial College of Armed Forces (ICAF), gives me a solid background in financial oversight and planning. As an Army officer, I have always worked hard to protect the interests of the American taxpayer, in resources and people, as a City Councilman I will work equally hard to protect and add value to, the financial interests of the citizens of District 3 and Huntsville. Once elected I will work toward the development (within 90 days) of a strategic plan, whose goal will be to stop the erosion within District 3 and improve the quality of life in all neighborhoods.
Huntsville Housing Authority (HHA)
HHA handled the transactions within our community in a callused and insensitive manner. The lack of visibility of their process and communication was appalling. I will demand and work toward an appointment to the HHA from South Huntsville, to ensure that our interests are protected and that the workings of the board are transparent to all. I will support any measure locally that would provide the people of South Huntsville/Huntsville the opportunity to voice their concerns and have a say in the decision making process. I fervently support the local delegation to the State Legislature (Senate and House) to continue pushing for 1) greater restrictions on the influence of HHA, 2) increased input by citizens, and 3) improved communication of their actions and future plans.
The influx to Huntsville, especially District 3, as a result of BRAC and natural city growth, makes infrastructure a pressing issue to many South Huntsville residents. To me infrastructure is defined as roads, drainage, nature trails, parks, sidewalks, bike routes, fire stations, police precincts, and other like items that anchor the high quality and safety of life in our neighborhoods that we have come to enjoy. As a result, it is important we plan ahead in order to secure the necessary funding and leverage the use of State and federal dollars. l will work with city planners to determine the best way to incorporate the complete streets program in future road developments as well as reviewing existing danger areas to best protect the lives of citizens. I will work to ensure that we maintain our existing roads and those within neighborhoods, returning to an 8 year paving cycle. Additionally, I will work with city planners and recreational leagues to determine how best to improve and expand our existing parks, and where needed, construct new ones.
Declining Property Values - The biggest threat to our community and our way of life is declining property values. Three elements that have the potential to affect our property values are the 1) Huntsville Housing Authority (HHA), 2) the Huntsville City School System, and 3) Closed and abandoned commercial property. We must work closely with the HHA as an equal partner, ensuring that they are held accountable and South Huntsville is protected from arbitrary social experiments. We must protect our South Huntsville schools funding, ensuring that school funds are spread equitably by working closing with the Huntsville School Board as an equal partner in the planning of existing resources. Equally important is the restoration of retail and commercial activity within those business areas of our district that have sit empty for too long.
Revitalization - South Huntsville's commercial and tax base has eroded over the years, reducing our ability to garner those city resources which we deserve. I believe a major way to get relevancy is to revitalize South Huntsville along South Memorial Parkway and Bailey Cove. South Huntsville has both the population and income to warrant more retail stores and sit down restaurants. Through my strategic planning process I canvas neighborhood needs and expectation and bring in the appropriate developers to determine how best to attract and retain high quality commercial interests. We should look first at developers providing their own financing, as they did in Jones Valley, but not hesitate, if the business case can be made, to leverage the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) method to help move things forward in a timely manner. Revitalization is one of the key elements to anchoring and improving our property values.
Bottom-line, I will:
Involve South Huntsville citizens and civic leaders in developing a strategic plan that stops District 3 erosion and improves quality of life.
Protect our neighborhoods and schools from negative actions and funding cuts, through direct communication, equal distribution, and transparent representation.
Increase financial resources for infrastructure (especially roads and parks) that will aid in protecting and improving property values.
Secure economic development opportunities in South Huntsville that will restore retail vitality to empty storefronts.
Ensure District 3's fair share of city dollars, police, and fire protection.