MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The stage is set in the race for Mayor of Montgomery. Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange and Artur Davis are officially in the running to win the city's top job in August.
Artur Davis is a former U.S. Representative and one-time Democratic candidate for governor, who is now Republican. He left politics, and the state of Alabama for several years but moved back to Montgomery late last year.
Todd Strange has been in office since March of 2009 when he won a special election after Bobby Bright was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Strange announced his re-election bid at Thursday morning's State of the City and County address, speaking to a crowd of business and community leaders at the Chamber-sponsored breakfast. The mayor held back tears as he made his plans known, announcing that he would run again after much thought, prayer, and reflection with his family and staff.
"As I looked at the people who have been gracious to be a part of this, committing themselves to make this a better community, I decided, how do you give this up? How do you walk away from what you started? It's an emotional time," Mayor Strange explained. "I am offering myself for four more years of being mayor of this great city."
Meanwhile, Davis made his campaign plans official through a six-minute long YouTube video.
"A child born off Day Street who ends up going to Harvard, a kid who used to go the old Cleveland Avenue Library to read about history and ended up being a congressman, has no excuse to run from a fight just because it's hard," Davis said. "I have this belief that a skinny kid with big glasses who grew up in Ridgecrest can still be the mayor of the City of Montgomery, and I will spend the next eight months fighting everyday for your trust," Davis added. "And I owe this community too much not to fight for its future."
Davis says his campaign will focus on three major issues with crime first.
"We've got to get tough on crime, and yes we do have to get tough on the causes of crime. It so happens that I don't think we have enough police officers in Montgomery, we don't have enough placement of police officers and precincts around the city," Davis said.
And he's proposing big changes for Montgomery schools.
"I'm going to offer voters a very simple deal: elect me mayor, I'm going to take over the county system, make it a city school system, and we're going to turn these schools around."
Davis believes Montgomery needs a new job source to bring people back to the city.
"We are the one urban center in Alabama that has lost population in the last three years," Davis said.
Mayor Strange says his campaign will be a simple one, and his priority will remain as mayor, not his campaign. The mayor is touting progress on issues such as jobs, crime, retail and residential development in his bid to hold the office for another term.
"Together we have made tremendous progress on many fronts," Strange said. "Downtown Redevelopment has a reached a critical mass, so the city is no longer the driving force priming the pump - private business is continuing the headway we have made. We intend to build on that success, keeping the forward momentum throughout the city: in our neighborhoods, ensuring the safety and dignity of all our citizens, and taking advantage of every opportunity to maintain Montgomery as The Capital of Dreams."
"We've got the same budget today in 2015 that we started with in 2009, that we inherited, but we've been able to get some things done," Strange said.
Strange says Montgomery's seen significant job growth.
"I looked just the other day at 2010, we had 12.5 percent unemployment. The last report, we were at 5.6 percent. That means almost 9,500 more people are employed today than they were five years ago."
And he has a vision for what he'd still like to accomplish.
"Look at neighborhoods and what we can do in neighborhoods, look at minority business development, look at a more extensive paving program along the way, look at how we can fight crime better with a new police chief we've come on board," Strange said.
The mayoral election is slated for Aug. 25.
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