All Things Madison | Behind the Scenes with Madison's City Council: A Series | District 5 | Ranae Bartlett
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Behind the Scenes with Madison’s City Council: A Series | District 5 | Ranae Bartlett

All Things Madison | Behind the Scenes with Madison's City Council: A Series | District 5 | Ranae Bartlett

Welcome to All Things Madison’s “Behind the Scenes with Madison’s City Council” series. Each week for seven weeks, All Things Madison will feature one of Madison’s city council members and share about their roots in Madison, what led them to run for their position, what projects they are tangibly working on to better our community, and much more. To discover what district you reside in and learn who your district’s councilmember is, please click here

Meet Ranae Bartlett, Councilwoman for District 5 in Madison, Alabama Behind the kind, humble spirit of District 5 Councilwoman Ranae Bartlett is a well-rounded, strong resume of a woman who is helping lead the city of Madison into a bright future. She brings decades of varied professional experiences to the table and is currently having a lot of fun in her first term on the city council. 

Meet Ranae Bartlett, Councilwoman for District 5 in Madison, Alabama

Behind the kind, humble spirit of District 5 Councilwoman Ranae Bartlett is a well-rounded, strong resume of a woman who is helping lead the city of Madison into a bright future. She brings decades of varied professional experiences to the table and is currently having a lot of fun in her first term on the city council. 

Meet Ranae Bartlett, Councilwoman for District 5 in Madison, Alabama Behind the kind, humble spirit of District 5 Councilwoman Ranae Bartlett is a well-rounded, strong resume of a woman who is helping lead the city of Madison into a bright future. She brings decades of varied professional experiences to the table and is currently having a lot of fun in her first term on the city council. 

Bartlett has lived in Madison longer than she’s ever lived anywhere else before. Work opportunities called her and her family this way from Northwest Arkansas in 2003, and they decided to stay put. Their son Michael was just 18 months old at the time, and she says that Madison’s strong school reputation was a major reason she and her husband decided to put their roots down in Madison. Michael started kindergarten at Rainbow Elementary and went on to graduate as salutatorian of his 2020 Bob Jones High School graduating class. 

Bartlett says that her road to serving on the city council all unknowingly began years ago when she applied to be on the Madison City Schools school board. She first applied when her son was in kindergarten, but she wasn’t appointed. 

“I applied again when he was in third grade and was finally appointed!” she shares. “But in between the two times that I applied to be on the school board, I did a lot of volunteering at the schools and served on a variety of committees.”

Bartlett says that one of the biggest projects she spent time on while serving on the school board was the Blue Ribbon Committee, which was put in place around 2008 to examine the need for another high school in Madison in addition to Bob Jones.

“A lot of people didn’t want that kind of division for our city, but we knew we needed a second high school to maintain our community’s excellence.”

Bartlett could see what kind of growth was coming for our community, and she says that that vision was key in driving much of the work she did on the Blue Ribbon Committee and the school board as a whole.

Bartlett says that being around city council members became very familiar to her while she served on the school board, which led to a level of comfort when she finally decided to announce her campaign for the District 5 seat in the summer of 2020.

Looking back at 2020 as a whole, Bartlett says it was the wildest time for her personally and professionally.

“School came to an abrupt halt, which was so hard because my son was a senior,” she shares. “He missed so many things.”

She was the school board president when the pandemic came swooping in, which was also a wild experience due to being in the midst of searching for a new superintendent. (Former Superintendent Robby Parker retired from the position in February 2020.)

Additionally, Bartlett’s interest in all things related to chess came to a head.

“Everyone was playing chess during the pandemic,” she shares. “I run a non-profit called the Madison City Chess League, and I was approached about a job with Chess Kid during this time.”

Bartlett says that this new job she acquired is still a job that brings her joy to this day. She says that she works with teachers and coaches from schools all over the world that are teaching chess to their students.

Despite much change and a handful of challenges presented in the first half of 2020, Bartlett felt confident in moving forward with announcing her city council campaign.

“My friend Connie Spears announced her campaign in the spring of 2020, and she’d be challenging the current council president.”

Bartlett says that she was more afraid not to try, and so she decided to go for it. Tommy Overcash was the four-term incumbent for the seat.

“I didn’t know if people were ready for a change or not, but I went ahead and announced my campaign on a Thursday. About four days later, Overcash announced that he was retiring.”

Bartlett says that campaigning during the pandemic was a wild ride and very unpredictable but was all worth it when she was elected in November 2020.

All Things Madison | Behind the Scenes with Madison's City Council: A Series | District 5 | Ranae Bartlett

The current hottest topic in District 5 right now is the Highlands Drive project, according to Bartlett. She shared that the water lines were degrading and needed to be replaced, so they’ve been working with Madison Utilities to replace the lines. This project also requires the landscaping to be redone in those areas, repaving of the roads affected, etc.

“As soon as the weather is clear for a sustainable amount of time, those roads will be completed!” shared Bartlett eagerly.

“The other thing we’ve done within District 5 that’s been really appreciated is how transparent we are.”

Bartlett explaines that she has an active Facebook page and shares an update from city council meetings first thing in the morning after each one. She also continues to deliver a monthly newsletter that’s loaded with city-related information. She encourages community members throughout the city, both in her district and those who are not, to sign up here!

She also shared news that the city has recently invested in resources that will stream city council meetings live directly from the City of Madison website, which will be a reliable hub for all future streamed broadcasts. These live streaming events will begin in February.

All Things Madison | Behind the Scenes with Madison's City Council: A Series | District 5 | Ranae Bartlett

When Bartlett looks at the near future of the council and their upcoming projects, she says that the Madison on Track 2045 comprehensive plan is a huge item on the docket. Their first meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 2nd at 5:30 at City Hall, and community members from all over are invited to come and share their feedback and thoughts about where they want to see our city headed in the next couple of decades.

For more information about Madison on Track 2045, please click here.

As far as Bartlett’s specific tasks on the city council, she is currently the finance chair.

“I was very interested in learning how the city is funded, and being on this committee has enabled me to have a voice in being responsible as a city with our finances.”

Bartlett was also heavily involved with the financial side of the house when she served on the school board but says that city finances are a bit more complex.

“These are very heavily audited funds, so we are constantly attending webinars and receiving additional training about different things to make sure that we are doing what we should be doing with the funds that we have access to.”

Bartlett says that she and other council members are asked from time to time what it’s like to have a majority-female city council for the first time (there are currently four women and three men).

“Women are so collaborative,” she shares. “Women tend to enjoy working with others to meet a common goal and get things done.”

She sites Slaughter Road as an example. She explained that Slaughter Road is divided between Huntsville and Madison city limits, and that it is necessary to work together with Huntsville’s city council to make improvements to the road. 

Madison City Chess League

One of Bartlett’s greatest joys and passions outside of serving on the council is her aforementioned vested interest in chess. Bartlett started a non-profit called the Madison City Chess League in 2013 and has seen explosive, positive city-wide growth in the league year after year. 

“I was just a parent at Rainbow Elementary with a son who wanted to play chess. I saw how it was run and thought there were some changes that could be made.”

Bartlett went on to attend national tournaments as a way of seeing how other communities were running their programs, and then she got to work here in Madison.

“I wanted to help every school get the equipment they needed, which included having chess sets at all schools. I also help them find coaches.”

Bartlett says that the state chess tournament will be held this month right here in Madison at Hexagon. She also noted that the Madison City Chess League is proudly home to the highest concentration of female players in the state!

In conclusion, when asked what Ranae enjoys as a whole about being a council member, she shared that everyone on the council is there to help other people, and she enjoys being a part of that culture.

Quick Links for Ranae Bartlett, District 5 Councilwoman for Madison, Alabama

Website | Email | FacebookMadison City Chess League | Subscribe to her monthly newsletter

 

More from the City Council Series

Moving to Madison Mondays: #1 | 9 Reasons People Love Living in Madison, Alabama

Connie Spears, District 2 | Behind the Scenes with Madison’s City Council

More from Madison

Why are Madison City Schools So Good? Here are 3 Reasons.

 

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All Things Madison | Behind the Scenes with Madison's City Council: A Series | District 5 | Ranae Bartlett