Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox shared his 12-month vision with members of the city council Friday afternoon at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, outlining his plan to make the Druid City "the most accountable, innovative and effectively managed city in the United States."

The three-hour meeting was an opportunity for Maddox to share his ideas with the new members of the council -- after municipal elections, only three incumbent council members will return for the 2021-2025 term, pending the outcome of the special election to be held in District 7 after a judge voided Cassius Lanier's March victory over incumbent Sonya McKinstry.

The new council officially takes office on May 17th, and for newcomers Matthew Wilson, Norman Crow and John Faile, the Friday meeting was their first real opportunity to hear what issues the mayor believes should be their priorities in the year to come.

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"We're coming on a new opportunity with a new city council and we see this as the administration's chance to outline what we believe is important over the next four years and certainly it's also an opportunity for us to engage with the city council and understand what's important to them," Maddox said before the meeting. "I really believe this is our decade in Tuscaloosa, this is the decade we can separate ourselves as one of the best cities in the United States, but we've got to all do this together -- not one person or individual can make that happen, it's got to be all of us working together."

Maddox's policy agenda was centered on four core beliefs:

  • Citizens must be safe, whether crime, fire, medical response or an act of nature, our response is swift and effective.
  • Neighborhood protection and economic growth are achieved through conservative financial management, comprehensive planning and strategic infrastructure investments.
  • All underserved areas deserve investments that enhance educational, economic and recreational opportunities.
  • Elite customer service is a shared responsibility of everyone and our work must be guided by responsiveness, respect and accountability.

From there, the mayor outlined 16 different action items he wants to see prioritized in the next 12 months, including his desired timeline for completion and a list of the municipal players involved to make them happen.

The items included Maddox's suggestion to reduce the number of city employees and realign roles and responsibilities among the remaining positions, to adopt a new funding model for the Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority and to adopt a Project Unity masterplan. Project Unity is Maddox's yet-to-be-revealed plan to address crime, poverty, and blight and the city's underserved communities.

Before the meeting began, Maddox also spoke with members of the media about the ongoing obstacles the city faces due to COVID-19, the spike of violent gun crime the city has seen recently, the upcoming special election and more, topics that will be addressed individually in future stories on the Tuscaloosa Thread.

Stay connected for more on those issues in the days to come.

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