District 1 Candidates Talk Platforms Heading into Runoff Election
Some Tuscaloosa voters will return to the polls next week as candidates vying for two city council seats face off in runoff elections.
In District 1, Reverend Matthew Wilson received 608 votes, outpacing community activist Que Chandler's 447 and Katherine Waldon's 319, but failed to earn the plurality of the vote.
Now Wilson and Chandler are asking for votes in Tuesday's runoff to determine who will represent District 1 on the city council for the next four years.
Candidate Matthew Wilson
During the March election, Wilson spoke at length about his policies and his hopes for the future should he be elected. His key areas of interest revolve largely around education and programs to better the lives of students and families in District 1.
Before running for this office, Wilson served represented District 1 on the Tuscaloosa City Schools Board of Education. A lifelong resident of Tuscaloosa, he graduated from Central High School in 2001 before going on to receive a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy and Religion at Stillman College. He later received his Master of Divinity from the Morehouse School of Religion in Atlanta and earned a Doctorate of Divinity from St. Luke Episcopal School of Biblical Studies.
Wilson said he was called to ministry when he was nine years old and has been actively engaged in the faith for the past 25 years. He currently pastors the Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Marion.
Wilson emphasized that it was his passion for the City of Tuscaloosa and his drive for public service (along with a push from his mother Patricia in 2017) that led him to run for a seat on the school board.
"I was called to step up, I was told 'the city needs your voice, your communal spirit, and your collaboration," Wilson said about his decision to step down from the board and run for city council.
Wilson said that his years of experience serving the community have prepared him to sit on the City Council. For instance, during his time with the TCS Board, he was a strong advocate of plans to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic that met the needs of parents, students and teachers alike.
Wilson said if elected, he wants to emphasize five key tenets:
- Working with other officials to improve infrastructure within District 1
- Ensuring safe and healthy communities
- Promoting affordable housing and rent control
- Diversifying and improving recreational and educational opportunities for youth, seniors and those with special needs
- Working with County and State officials on economic development and infrastructure, while stressing the need to strengthen Broadband internet access
Wilson said in his personal time, he enjoys visiting and mentoring students and socializing with senior citizens. He volunteers with Junior Achievement and the Book Buddies through the University of Alabama.
"I'm so incredibly thankful for the people of District 1 for supporting me up to now, and I want to represent them well," Wilson told The Thread on election night.
Candidate Que Chandler
Chandler has served many roles as a community activist in the last ten years and said that serving on the city council will help increase her impact on Tuscaloosa.
A mother of three and an Alabama native, Chandler said she is deeply invested in enriching the lives of members of her community and improving District 1's representation on the council.
Chandler said in the last year, she personally registered 500 voters and has spent time volunteering with Emerge Alabama, a nonprofit that encourages and trains women to run for public office.
She has served in various leadership positions focused around the area's youth, including as the time as the Vice President of the MLK Jr. Elementary PTA. She also served as the founder of the Girl Power Book Club, which promoted books featuring girls of color to young students of color.
She has served for the past decade as a Child and Senior Care Coordinator for The Boys and Girls Club of West Alabama, with the Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority and with the Family Guidance Center of Alabama. In those roles, she said she addressed several challenges facing seniors and youth.
Chandler told The Thread that her three-plank platform was focused on bringing communities together.
- Establishing Super Neighborhood Associations - planning areas where individuals and several civic organizations come together to address the community's needs and priorities.
- Neighborhood revitalization through addressing affordable housing and community projects. Chandler wants to preserve and enhance Tuscaloosa's most historic district by fighting for a community with beautiful parks, food markets with healthy and fresh foods, excellent schools and safe streets.
- Investing in future generations through working with organizations designed to develop youth. For example, Chandler wants to bring BuildUP, an early-college and high school workforce development program to District 1. It provides low-income youth with career skills through programs including apprenticeships.
Chandler's platform also states she is a strong advocate for workforce development, skills training, and providing resources and economic opportunities to both those in her District and the City of Tuscaloosa.
The runoff elections will take place Tuesday.