PART 1 | ROB ROBERTSON TAKING PROBATE JUDGE MANTLE SERIOUSLY
In this two-part series, WVUA 23’s Jabaree Prewitt talks with the new Tuscaloosa Probate Judge Rob Robertson about his ambitions and goals while in office.
Judge Hardy McCollum lead Tuscaloosa County as probate judge and chairman of the Tuscaloosa County Commission for more than 40 years. Now, the county has a new probate judge.
Rob Robertson took the oath of office on Jan. 14 for his new role. Robertson said his first goal was to make the transition following 43-year incumbent Judge Hardy McCollum as smooth as possible.
Judge Robertson said there will be a number of things in the strategic plan his office will be working through and developing while taking Tuscaloosa County in a new direction.
“There is a lot of things that I think we could update in county government,” Robertson said. “There’s a lot of great things about our county government and I’ve said a number of times, Tuscaloosa County government is atypical in Alabama. And there’s a lot of different reasons for that and what makes that statement true. The way we do certain things, we’re just unique. Part of our community out here, the University of Alabama campus, makes us unique in the state, in the dynamics of our economy.”
In Tuscaloosa County, the probate judge also serves as the chairman of the Tuscaloosa County Commission. Robertson said he thinks the county government can work better with the city governments within its borders.
“I’m a very collaborative individual,” Robertson said. “I think that the county and the city of Tuscaloosa and the city of Northport have a lot of things we could do together that serve the common interest.”
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that all same-sex marriages were to be recognized throughout the country. At the time, the Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge’s office was opposed to the ruling, creating a major controversy. Robertson said that his job as a judge is to follow the law.
“To me, it’s very simple,” Robertson said. “You follow the law. That’s my job as probate judge. If one can’t follow the law, you need to look for other employment. That’s the way I approach things.”
As probate judge, Robertson expects that controversy will come at some point, but he wants to keep the probate judge’s office positive.
“All citizens are due the utmost respect and the service level that is consistent across everybody,” Robertson said. “But whatever issues have been before us and controversies, there’ll be more in the future. I don’t know what all of those might look like, but the principles don’t change though. People are people, people are due service and they are due government that follows the law consistently and apply it consistently. That’s the way I approach things.”
Judge Robertson said he hadn’t fully read Sen. Gerald Allen’s pre-filed bill that would allow the people of Tuscaloosa to vote on a sales tax change. However, he does believe everyone should be able to make a collective decision on tax changes.
“I totally believe in representation if you’re being taxed,” Robertson said. “You need a say in that. Unfortunately, right now, the existing proposal or sales tax increase is gonna also apply to our unincorporated areas out in the county. We have equalization here, the highest rate of sales tax between the city of Northport or the city of Tuscaloosa will be applied automatically in the unincorporated areas of this county.”
Judge Robertson says he supports a bill that would fund roads, bridges and other constructions in the county. However, he wants to remind everyone that the rural parts of the county would also be affected.
Read the second installment of this two-part series here.