As qualification for Tuscaloosa's municipal election in March continues, another candidate has emerged seeking the mayor's office - Serena Fortenberry, a proactive and engaged member of the Tuscaloosa community and faculty at The University of Alabama.

Originally from Georgia, Fortenberry moved to Tuscaloosa in 1998 to pursue a Master's Degree in English at the University of Alabama. She also earned a Ph.D. in American Literature in 2008 and has served as a faculty member in UA's English Department ever since.

She has been married to her husband Wyn for 20 years, and they share three children, each enrolled in different grades in the Tuscaloosa City Schools system.

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Fortenberry told the Tuscaloosa Thread she is very active in her community. She said since moving to Tuscaloosa, she has put substantial work into improving her community, including organizing the Newton Neighborhood Association, and securing enhancements for the Burrell Odom Park from Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority.

"Four years ago, I kicked myself for not running for City Council in District 1," Fortenberry told the Thread. "I decided I was going to educate myself as much as I could and run a strong campaign."

In addition to serving in several departmental committees at UA, Fortenberry has frequently been involved with the City. She has advocated for improvements to Jack Warner Parkway and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. She has also publicly criticized incumbent Mayor Maddox's policies several times, including his plans for Elevate Tuscaloosa, questioning its efficacy on a return for taxpayer's dollars.

“During his tenure Walt Maddox has pulled powers away from City Council Members," Fortenberry said about the incumbent candidate. "Mayor Maddox likes to paint a pretty picture about the state of Tuscaloosa, but in reality, we facing increasing poverty, dilapidated infrastructure, struggling neighborhoods, spiraling city debt, a stagnant economy, rising crime rates, and a disregard for the needs of the hardworking people of Tuscaloosa.”

Fortenberry said if elected, she would immediately conduct a sweeping review of city finances to root out any wasteful spending.

She said she would like concentrate on three areas of planning: Project Planning, City Planning, and Financial Planning. By focusing on these three tenets, she hopes to reduce city debt, raise material and design standards in city infrastructure, and ensure projects are thoroughly vetted before they get underway.

"Strong, multifaceted planning will strengthen our city, thereby raising quality of life for residents through judicious and careful public investment, diversifying and growing our local economy, and stabilizing and maintaining the infrastructure on which our city depends," Fortenberry said. "I’m not going to run for governor; I’m not going to raise taxes; I am going to work hard for the benefit of Tuscaloosa and its citizens."

Fortenberry is also formally requesting three mayoral debates to discuss city finances, the revitalization of economically depressed communities and internal operations of City Hall. Her campaign page can be found here.

Maddox told the Tuscaloosa Thread in November that he would seek his fifth term as Tuscaloosa's mayor and formally qualified to run for reelection last week.

Pastor, coach and former star running back Martin Houston has also qualified to run for mayor.

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