THE RIGHT MAN AT THE RIGHT TIME

ABOUT MIKE RUSSELL

​With rampant crime, failing city services and high racial tensions, Atlanta needs the proven, results-oriented leadership that Mike Russell possesses.

Portrait of Mike Russell Atlanta City Council President Candidate

I was born in Oklahoma and spent the first years of my life growing up in a segregated community located between railroad tracks on one side and a Native American Reservation on the other. The homes in our neighborhood were modest but very well maintained. There was no crime to speak of, and I felt perfectly safe walking through the neighborhood during the hours of darkness. I have only fond memories of this time of my life. I was surrounded by friendly neighbors and family including my cousins, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

 

During this time I learned many valuable life lessons from watching those around me and from the “talks” I received from my great-grandmother and grandmother. Chief among those lessons were the importance of personal responsibility and self-reliance, the value of hard work, and how critical it is to have a good education. Laziness and excuses for failure to follow the rules or comply with the standards my parents set were simply not tolerated.

My life took a dramatic turn when my father volunteered to serve in the Army in Germany. I was exposed to a totally different world. I learned about things I didn’t know existed and visited famous places that I had only read about in books. These experiences opened my mind and taught me even more life lessons. I learned that no one group of people has a lock on virtue or evil, and that wrong and different are not synonyms. However, other things did not change. The lessons that I had learned from my grandmother and great-grandmother proved to be true even in a completely different culture.

Early life and formative years

Mike Russell and his brother as children
Mike Russell as a young man in college at Cambell University

Education

I attended Campbell University in North Carolina where I graduated as a Distinguished Military Graduate, received my commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army, and was assigned to the Military Police Corps. It was an incredibly proud moment for my entire family.

 

Thinking about it still makes me emotional because I know that I was able to walk across that stage only due to the great sacrifices those before me had made. To this day I still carry a sense of responsibility not to dishonor the work of those who gave me an opportunity for a better life, and to excel in every way I can. There is no room or excuse for failure. 
 

I am also a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, U.S. Army Installation Management Course, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security Course (DPTMSC), The Combined Arms Services and Staff School (CAS3), Contracting Officer Representative Course, U.S. Army Military Police Officers Advanced and Basic Courses, Ranger School, Airborne and Air Assault Courses. 

I am a retired Army officer. I served in the uniform of my country as a military police officer for 28 years and obtained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During my time in the US Army I served not only in the United States but also in Central America, the Caribbean, The Middle East, and Europe. I have traveled to 26 countries.

My duties took me to many locations and placed me and those in my command in challenging and sometimes dangerous circumstances. I deployed overseas on eight major missions, six of which were in combat. My motto was that “I would not fail those whom I serve”. That included the Soldiers (and their families) who were in my charge both in war and peace, and the American people who had bestowed upon me the high honor and privilege of being a commissioned officer in their Army, and entrusted me with their most precious possessions: their liberty and their loved ones who served with me.

Mike Russell with fellow Soldiers serving in Desert Storm
Mike Russell in dress uniform with German Police in Wiesbaden Germany

With German Police in Wiesbaden, Germany

Military Experiences

Mike Russell sitting with Iraqi-Kurds in traditional clothing

Celebrating with Iraqi-Kurds, fostering international relations while deployed in Northern Iraq

During my service I held a number of responsible leadership positions.

  • My first assignment was as a platoon leader in charge of guarding nuclear weapons in Europe. Later I ran a school and taught enlisted Soldiers and officers how to guard and protect nuclear weapons.

  • I trained new lieutenants entering into the Army and later was a Battalion Executive Officer responsible for coordinating the personnel and resources to train over 1,000 military police officers annually.

  • I commanded a company in combat during Operation Just Cause in Panama, and before that helped rebuild schools and roads in Honduras.

  • Just after 9/11, I led the development of logistics software that revolutionized the movement of supplies across the battlefield, which was used during the second war in Iraq.

  • I served as the Detention Facility Operations Officer at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and served a third tour of duty in Iraq as a team chief responsible for training Iraqi security forces who were responsible for border security and customs.

  • During my last several assignments. I worked as a member of three garrison/installation staffs, which was the rough equivalent of a city government responsible for public safety, infrastructure, utilities, schools, medical facilities, and even an airfield supporting 15,000 Soldiers and families, among other things.

  • I held two different positions during my time serving in the garrisons. First, as a garrison operations officer, I was responsible for coordinating and synchronizing the activities across the garrison and issuing directives to implement the garrison commander’s (the “mayor’s”) policies. My second position was that of Provost Marshal (PM), which is the equivalent of a director of public safety responsible for the military police, fire departments, and contracted security guards. During my tenure as the PM at different garrisons I implemented community policing, a great success emulated by my German police counterparts.

Life after the Military

After retiring from the US Army I worked for a credit union in the overseas headquarters responsible for marketing and human resources. Having no formal marketing training I quickly taught myself the fundamentals of the industry and developed a network to support my efforts. In a short time I was able to partner with print, radio, and television media outlets, and raised the visibility of the credit union in the various communities by partnering with local organizations and charities. I received special recognition from the NATO Supreme Allied Commander for organizing charitable events for service members and veterans.

During my tenure I revamped the marketing strategy which resulted in vastly increased revenue and sells in our branches.

 

As the human resources manager, I was able to fill personnel shortages which had previously been a constant challenge. I also developed and led training seminars for the branch managers to improve their leadership and management skills.

I left the credit union and worked for a year as a Federal Government civil service employee with the grade of GS 14.

After deciding to return to America my spouse and I travelled to several different cities looking for a new hometown in which to start the next chapter in our lives. We could have lived anywhere, and we chose Atlanta! We have built a wonderful life in the city we now call home. We now have an online retail gift shop, we are constructing a new home in Grove Park, we have made lovely new friends, and we enjoy participating in community, cultural, and charitable activities.

As President of the Atlanta City Council I would use my numerous lifetime experiences to do my part in making the City of Atlanta safer and better for everyone! I will be an advocate for all Atlantans, ensuring that the city government is responsive to their needs and concerns, and that the City Council is an efficient and effective body as well as a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars.

Mike Russell celebrating 70th Anniversary of D-Day with veterans in Normandy, France

Celebrating 70th Anniversary of D-Day with veterans in Normandy, France

Mike Russell and husband celebrating Christmas in The Netherlands
Mike Russell and husband celebrating Gay Pride in Atlanta, GA