With it being a presidential election year and an election for one of our United States Senate Seats and all of the interest that goes along with those high-profile contests, it has gone under the radar that most of our cities in the state had elections for mayor and city council last month. Mayors serve four-year terms and to most Alabamians they are the most important vote they will cast this year.
The job of mayor of a city is a difficult and intricate fulltime, 24 hours a day dedication to public service. They make more decisions that affect the lives of their friends and neighbors than anyone else. The old maxim, “All politics is local,” is epitomized in the role of mayor. Folks, being mayor of a city is where the rubber meets the road.
In looking all over the state, it appears that most Alabamians are content with the jobs their mayor is doing. In almost every contest around the state, the incumbent mayor turned away the challenger usually by a wide margin. Indeed, a good many of the incumbent mayors in the Heart of Dixie had no opposition.
Many of these incumbent mayors were reelected without opposition. Gordon Stone, the mayor of Alabama’s fastest growing community, Pike Road, will be entering his fifth term as mayor. Pretty soon Pike Road will have to start calling themselves a city.
Vestavia’s Mayor, Ashley Curry, won a second term without opposition. This former retired FBI agent has done a yeoman’s job managing this upscale, Jefferson County suburb.
Jasper Mayor, David O’Mary, who escaped opposition, will begin a second term. He has run Jasper like a well-tuned engine. Albertville mayor, Tracy Honea, garnered a third term without opposition. Luverne Mayor Ed Beasley was also unopposed.
In the contested races, most of the matchups were no contest. Two of Alabama’s largest and most prosperous cities, Huntsville and Hoover, had mayoral races. Tommy Battle coasted to an easy 78 to 22 reelection victory in Huntsville. If Kay Ivey opts to not run for reelection in 2022, Battle will be favored to win the governor’s race. However, being governor of Alabama would be a demotion to being Mayor of Huntsville.
Hoover citizens must approve of Mayor Frank Brocato’s job performance. Brocato trounced Hoover City Council President Gene Smith by a 76 to 24 margin.
Opelika’s popular and effective, longtime mayor, Gary Fuller, turned back his challenger 66 to 34 to win a fifth term.
In Cullman incumbent mayor, Woody Jacobs, won a second term overwhelmingly. Hamilton Mayor Bob Page won a second term. Troy’s 48-year-old mayor, Jason Reeves, won reelection to a third four-year term with 74% of the vote. Incumbent Eufaula Mayor Jack Tibbs won an impressive 68% victory for reelection over two opponents.
Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie may have turned in the most impressive showing. He shellacked former City Councilman Dean Argo 70 to 30. His fellow citizens must approve of frugality with their city finances. Wetumpka’s popular and hardworking, longtime mayor, Jerry Willis, turned back his challenger by a 69 to 31 margin. In neighboring Millbrook incumbent mayor, Al Kelley, won reelection 67 to 33. Mayor Kelley has overseen the growth of his city from 6,000 in population to over 20,000. Tallassee reelected Mayor John Hammock to a second term.
Clanton lost their mayor of three decades, Billy Joe Driver, to COVID this year. His successor will be Jeff Mims, who won the election in the Peach City. Mike Oakley won the mayor’s race in Centreville with a 60% margin. It is proper and fitting that an Oakley will be mayor of Centreville.
Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley won a landslide reelection garnering 68% of the vote. Incumbent Pell City Mayor Bill Pruitt won reelection by an impressive 73 to 27 margin. Longtime Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon won reelection in the Camellia City. Opp’s first female mayor, Becky Bracke, won a second term with 60% of the vote.
There were two mayoral upsets on August 25. Scottsboro’s incumbent mayor was defeated by challenger Jimmy McCamy. In the thriving, growing city of Fairhope challenger Sherry Sullivan trounced incumbent mayor Karin Wilson.
There are runoffs for mayor in several major cities, including Enterprise, Ozark, Selma, Tuskegee, Alexander City and Northport. These cities will elect their mayors on October 6 in runoff elections.
Some of you may be wondering about two of the most populous cities. Tuscaloosa and Dothan have their mayoral races next year in August of 2021. Tuscaloosa’s Walt Maddox and Dothan’s Mark Saliba will be tough to beat. All politics is local.
If you have not been counted in the census, you have not got many more shopping days to Christmas.
— Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the Alabama legislature.