In the most crowded race of Tuscaloosa's 2021 Municipal Elections, three candidates are challenging incumbent Raevan Howard to represent District 2 on the city council. The Tuscaloosa Thread spoke with each of them about their background, policies, and the key issues facing Tuscaloosa. Here are the candidates running for the District 2 seat.

Incumbent Raevan Howard

Howard told the Thread that she's proud of the work she's been able to accomplish in her last four years representing District 2. She defeated six-term Councilman Harrison Taylor in 2017, earning 57 percent of the vote.

Howard said if re-elected, she hopes to push forward with several plans already in place to increase the quality of life of the residents of District 2. She wants to work more closely with the police, secure better lighting in high-crime areas and implement new amenities for both youth and seniors.

She said she is passionate about improving the community, citing her recent support of the $1.5 million purchase of the Benjamin Barnes YMCA, although it is not within her district.

"I've accomplished a lot in my last four years," Howard said, about the City's decision to purchase the YMCA. "I wanted others on the council and community to feel the same pride I when I see my district improving."

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Candidate Boris Hurst

Hurst was born and raised here in Tuscaloosa. Currently, he works at the Barbershop on Skyland, which he says is the latest in a long line of leadership roles.

Hurst spent most of his career in education, including a stint as the senior principal of Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. studied before graduating atHoward High School. He was also hand-selected to open the first all-boys high school in Atlanta, before taking a job as a manager at one of the largest nonprofit agencies in Alabama.

"Real leadership matters," Hurst told The Thread. "You need someone who can bring something to the table. You should be an effective communicator, you should be someone who knows how to legislate and how to move policy."

Hurst said if elected, he has three immediate goals: first, improving health care coverage in District 2 by introducing pre-screenings at community centers such as the Benjamin Barnes YMCA. Secondly, he wants to make trash and cleanup in the district a priority and make the West End a more desirable place to live.

Lastly, Hurst said he wants to focus on career development and job creation by introducing an interview etiquette program for students at the Career Tech Center and funding trade training for older residents.

He also said wants to pave the way for police reform by creating an ambassadors program, through which "real" people in the district can serve as mentors for young people and as middlemen between law enforcement and area residents.

Candidate Paul W. Sanders Sr.

Sanders moved to Tuscaloosa with his grandparents when he was 14, and was part of the first graduating class at Central High School. From there, he earned degrees from Alabama State University and from the Birmingham Theological Seminary. He now serves as a local pastor for Greater Destiny Fellowship. He is the father of 4 and grandfather of 3 grandchildren.

Sanders said in the nearly 40 years he's lived in District 2, he's seen significant improvements to infrastructure and community recreation but he also believes more can be done. The main points Sanders wants to get across to voters is that he wants to improve sidewalks, roads, and introduce new activities for both youth and seniors.

"I'm one to consider myself a servant leader," Sanders said. "Which means I'm meant to represent the people and be the voice that amplifies the community."

Sanders' leadership experience spans 25 years in ministry, and several leadership positions with the Tuscaloosa chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where he served as both president and vice president.

Sanders said if elected, he hopes to implement new academic and athletic programs and new resources to schools, saying the athletic program was his ticket to college. He said he also wants to address Tuscaloosa's juvenile delinquency program and build a new recreational facility for area youth.

Candidate Norma Young

Young is a longtime resident of the West End for the past 15 years and also runs a small cleaning business.

She is an active member of her community and has regularly attended city council and committee meetings and spoken up in support of District 2 since 2014.

Young said she is running on three central tenets: economic development, education, and public safety. She said she hopes to expand education K-12 to include more vocational and business training. She also wants to launch a new financial institution aimed to help fund small, minority-owned businesses and real estate interests in the district.

"The thing that runs through all of these issues is jobs," Young said. "I believe it's time for economic growth in West End. I believe that we can bring jobs to Tuscaloosa that pay West End residents a living wage."

Top Stories From The Tuscaloosa Thread (1/18-1/22)