PART 2 | WALT MADDOX: PLANS FOR ELEVATING TUSCALOOSA
After an unsuccessful run for Alabama governor, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox is taking what he’s learned and applying it to the city. WVUA 23’s Jabaree Prewitt sat down with Maddox for a discussion on his future plans in this three-part special report.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said he works 12 to 14 hours a day in his job, and that’s why his goals are achievable. His No. 1 goal? Repositioning Tuscaloosa for the new experience-based economy. Maddox’s Elevate Tuscaloosa plan is proposing a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund more than $250 million in city improvements. The plan includes prominent city features like a new entertainment complex as well as the elimination of the city’s grocery sales tax. “If we don’t take this opportunity, Tuscaloosa can be put behind for generations to come,” Maddox said. Maddox is also looking at continuing the city’s expansion of pre-kindergarten programs as well as other learning opportunities for preschool-age children. “Too many of our young people get lost in their education path,” Maddox said. “Ninety percent of the jobs that have been created since the great recession have required at least a college degree or a skill learned at a two-year school. If our children are not ready for that, they’re not going to be competitive in this 21st-century technology-driven economy.” But he’s also looking at increasing public safety, saying Alabama is not in the position to help those with mental health issues, so Tuscaloosa must step up to the plate. In addition, the city is launching a cybersecurity division within the Tuscaloosa Police Force. That division will use the city’s data in their fight against crime. But his biggest goal is also the simplest: improve the quality of life for Tuscaloosans. “I’m not going to be bored,” Maddox said. “We’ve got a lot to do, and I’m very fortunate. I don’t wake up and feel like I go to work when the alarm goes off and my feet hit the floor. I’m on a mission.” That mission, for now, is convincing the Tuscaloosa City Council to buy into his Elevate Tuscaloosa plan and agree to the 1-cent sales tax increase.