MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Mayor Todd Strange will be the first to admit he had no idea what he was walking into when he became mayor of Montgomery, taking over Bobby Bright's job who is now a Congressman.
"I had an opportunity to visit Congressman Bright and told him I had a newfound respect for the mayor's office," said the mayor.
Respect earned the hard way. Within days the perfect storm of one crisis after another.
"I was being tested early. Swine flu, and don't forget the tornado," said Mayor Strange.
Add to that the flash floods on May 7th.
"We had a tremendous amount of rain," Strange said at a news conference on May 8th.
20th century graves accidentally disturbed on the city lot a month earlier.
"What we found was not a mass grave," said Mayor Strange on April 25.
Streamlining city reports.
"Trying to get 23 direct reports down to 8,' said Strange.
And mounting problems with a challenging economy. That stimulus money sure would come in handy now.
"We think we'll get $14 million and we haven't gotten a dime yet," he said.
It isn't so much that Todd Strange was inexperienced in the ways of business and politics. After all he co-owned 9 car dealerships, raking in revenues of around $200 million dollars a year and managing more than 350 employees. He and his partner sold the businesses 9 years ago, and Strange later became the state' s director for economic development. Not long after chairman of the Montgomery County Commission.
The thing that's really surprised Strange about his new job as mayor is he can't just snap his fingers and issues get resolved.
"Everything dealing with whether you'll prosecute a case in municipal court to how we're going to change our parking fines. One thing I've learned is you can't run government like a business but there are a lot of business principles you can apply to government," said Strange.
The mayor begins his day 5:30 in the morning and arrives a little after 7 at city hall. He says he's given up a lot to do this job such as travel and golf outings yet at 65 he wouldn't have it any other way.
Knock on wood Mayor Strange hopes the next few hundred days are a bit calmer than the first.
"I think the people are looking at the mayor's office to lead this city," said Mayor Strange.
The question now is whether Todd Strange will run again. He didn't say but he's got 700 more days to think about it.
The mayor manages a city budget of more than $225 million and a roster of 2,800 employees.
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