Photo Dusty Huckabee is seeking his second term as city councilor for Ward 1. (Jill McLaughlin)
City Councilor Dusty Huckabee remembers downtown Roswell as a place he hung out while his mo ther shopped at the local stores. He would sit on the hood of her car and listen to the radio.
He and his friends would run around during the day, exploring the streets.
“You wouldn’t dare do that these days,” he said.
Huckabee is running for his second term in Ward 1, against opponent Natasha N. Mackey. He was elected in 2010, but he also serves the community by coordinating several popular festivals and as director of MainStreet Roswell.
“I love Roswell. I was raised here,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee described another memory of when he was young. A little league team from Missouri Avenue School went to the national championships in Williamsport, Penn. Harold Hobson was on the team and his mother, who made the trip, called the local radio station to deliver play-by-play reports, he remembered.
When the train pulled into town bringing the team back home, the whole town was there to meet them.
“It was really cool,” he said. “It was just that kind of home town we were. And, you know, things have changed. It’s something we need to come back to. We’ve got a lot of bridges to build.”
Boosting the art presence in the community could be one bridge, he said.
One project Huckabee has focused on recently is improving L.J. Reischman Park downtown. The project received $100,000 from the state and is expected to transform the space into a gathering place with a venue for outdoor music and cultural events with art installations.
As councilor, Huckabee is chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee. He is most enthusiastic about the redesign and completion of Charlie McVay Memorial Softball Complex.
“We really wanted to establish sports tourism in Roswell,” Huckabee said. “Sports tourism was introduced to Roswell when Gus Macker tournaments came to Roswell,” he said. “We didn’t have places to put people. Then, the Hike it and Spike it. That’s economic development.”
The improvements brought in visitors that helped fill hotel and motel rooms, and brought income to restaurants, he said.
Councilors Elena Velasquez, Juan Oropesa and Art Sandoval were instrumental in the process.
Recently, the city was also able to secure $150,000 in state capital outlay funds to build permanent bathrooms downtown for festivals, parades and public events. The project is expected to be complete before the next Fiddle and Griddle festival, he said.
“It takes a lot of burden off our merchants,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee also talked about cleaning up the “crap” on East Second Street so tourists from Texas would get a better first impression upon arrival. He also spoke about finding a way to continue supporting the police and fire departments and has voted for raises for the officers “every time it’s come up.”
“If we’re going to be safe, it’s going to take money,” he said. “We need to keep searching for ways to find the money to pay for it.”
He is trying to find a way to use tourism dollars to pay for police during events, he said. He is also concerned about the east side of town and finding a way to clean it up.
But with many of these topics, Huckabee continued to mention that nothing can be accomplished alone.
“You’ve got to have partners in this,” he said. “No one person is going to do things. You have to have a group of people to cover all the bases. Some people want to take all the credit, but it takes more than one person to get the job done.”
Huckabee, who is known for speaking his mind at council meetings, said he’s not afraid to express his opinions but at the end of the day, the goal is to find a way to find common ground.
“I think at City Council we’ve done that,” he said. “We’ve done some screaming and hollering, but we’ve all come out as friends.”
Huckabee said if he loses the race, that’s fine.
“We all have issues,” he said. “I think it’s important that we use our seat to make things better in Roswell.”