Tuscaloosa hosts Big 10 Mayors Conference

Mayors from the state’s 10 largest cities gathered in the Druid City over the weekend, with the goal of learning from each other on how best they can tackle their community’s issues.

One major issue up for discussion during this most recent summit? Crime. Particularly, Aniah’s Law, a constitutional amendment being put forth to Alabama’s voters in November.

It’s named for Aniah Blanchard, a 19-year-old Auburn College student who was kidnapped and killed in 2018. The man accused of her death, Ibraheem Yazeed, was out on bond for attempted murder at the time of Aniah’s death.

That’s common when it comes to people committing violent crimes, said Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, and it’s what Aniah’s Law will change.

“The passage of Aniah’s Law will give judges in our state the ability to withhold bail from an individual who could potentially create more violence going forward,” said Maddox. “Our law enforcement, who are doing an unbelievable job, were arresting and re-arresting the same individuals. Aniah’s Law will make our cities in Alabama safer.”

While cutting down on crime is a frustrating battle around the state, the mayors’ meeting was also focused on what these cities are doing right: quick indictments.

Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hays Webb said all cases, including murder charges, are indicted within one month of arrest or when the DA’s office receives the felony packet. Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said that’s something his city is working toward.

“In each of our cities we have multiple murder suspects,” Stimpson said. “In the city of Mobile, it happens to be over 100 murder suspects who are awaiting trial walking the streets. We recognize that is a recipe for disaster.”

Visiting mayors said Tuscaloosa’s riverfront development and its partnership with the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama are areas they’re looking to model and improve upon in their own cities.

“It’s really amazing when you look what’s happening here,” Stimpson said. “It makes you green with envy, but that is the beauty of us getting together in the various cities so we can see what others are doing. We’re all faced with the same challenges, but we also have a lot of opportunities.”

Also up for discussion were sales tax rates and the 2022 World Games, happening this summer in Birmingham.

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