What does one do when he doesn't see his community advancing as he'd like? Well, there are options to making changes: bringing issues before your district representative, or running for office. Cassius Lanier chose the latter.

Credit: Facebook/Cassius Lanier

The businessman has long sought to make changes in the community. Some of his work began as one of the founders of Community Unity, grassroots organization which aimed to quell violence in the Tuscaloosa community by providing fun activities, gatherings, and parties. Collected funds went to aid various service projects.

He's hosted conferences and other events for the enrichment of men, food and toy giveaways during the holiday seasons while placing shoppers in quality, late-model vehicles. Lanier is also the owner of some rental properties.

This is but one of the many ways he's following in the footsteps of his father, the late Howard "Lip" Lanier, a former Tuscaloosa radio personality and community activist who also ran for a seat on the Tuscaloosa City Council.

The seat sought is currently held by District 7 Councilwoman Sonya McKinstry, who has been one of the most vocal advocates for her district as well as other districts where representation is seemingly quiet.

Credit: Facebook/Sonya McKinstry

McKinstry has been crucial in making numerous changes in the city including pushing for more urban acts at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, urging the city to purchase the McFarland Mall property to build a convention center of sorts (announced by property owner Stan Pate to be a sports and entertainment complex), and pushing for more minorities to be hired in city operations as well as other endeavors.

McKinstry's primary occupation is with the Administrative Office of Courts where she has been a Judicial Assistant in the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court for roughly two decades. She is co-owner of McKinstry Banquet Hall and “It’s All About U” Events where she is an event planner, designer and decorator.

Both candidates are extensively involved in various aspects of their community and have varying spheres of influence. McKinstry says her track record has been proven and speaks for itself in terms of her work as the District 7 representative.

Lanier says his objectives are to revive the small businesses in District 7 to help create more jobs, to get rid of the eyesores in the district, to create job opportunities for felons which will assist with crime prevention, to bridge the gap between community and police, and strengthen One Tuscaloosa by being an ear to the community to help their desires become a reality. He says he wants to be involved with creating a better Tuscaloosa, not just District 7 but the entire landscape.

Looks like the voters in District 7 have their work cut out for them in choosing a leader for the upcoming term!

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