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As the 2021 municipal election heats up, likely one of the most interesting races will come down to the fight for District 5. Coming up in March, long-time incumbent Kip Tyner will be facing off against University of Alabama sophomore Sam Badger.

The Tuscaloosa Thread was able to speak with both candidates about their plans for the district.

Candidate Sam Badger

Badger, 19, is originally from Plymouth, Michigan, and came to the University to major in political science and economics. He announced his bid in November via Facebook live and since then has been advertising his progressive approach to re-inventing the district.

"I'm not running this as a UA student," Badger said. "I don't see that criticism. This an issue about people not getting their needs addressed, and that's why I'm running. So far, I've seen a lot of support from people in the community on that matter."

Badger's political and leadership experience involves several student organizations, including the UA College Democrats. He has done some campaign work for Bernie Sanders and unified several organizations early last year to address UA's response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the shift to virtual learning.

He said he plans to prioritize infrastructure issues and public safety for the citizens living in the district. He specifically stated that he wants to address the crime that he believes Tyner has failed to address. He also plans to tackle the issue of gentrification of student housing.

"If possible, I want to block all expansion of student housing," Badger said. "Landlords build massive developments and then take students' rent to spend in their own districts. There are tons of empty and overgrown lots, as well."

Badger said that at the end of the day, the issue does not come down to the voters picking him or Tyner, it's about addressing the issues that immediately impact the community.

"It might just be a time for a big change," said Badger.

Incumbent Councilman Kip Tyner

Councilman Tyner has served six terms as the District 5 seatholder, two of which he ran unopposed. Should he be re-elected, Tyner will have served more terms than any previous council representative for the City of Tuscaloosa.

Tyner was eager to announce his re-election campaign late last year and plans an aggressive push for the seat as he focuses on increased restaurant and retail development. He told The Tuscaloosa Thread that he has many plans should he get re-elected that would revitalize the district. For instance, he wants to continue converting all street lighting to LED and engage youth-focused programs with a Boys and Girls Club and teen center.

Recently, Tyner secured the deal for the SWJ Technology engineering plant, headquartered across from Regions Bank near Tuscaloosa Gateway, that will bring hundreds of new digitally-focused, high-paying jobs to the area. Tyner also recently announced a Chevron mega-complex that will invest $3.7 million into the local economy.

"I've represented this area for 24 years," Tyner said. "It's probably one of the most exciting times in many years."

The municipal elections will be held on March 2.

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