MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Montgomery mayoral candidates David Woods and Steven Reed faced off in a Thursday night debate aired on WSFA 12 News.
Woods and Reed participated in the debate ahead of a runoff election on Oct. 8 to decide Montgomery’s next mayor.
On Aug. 27, the two candidates earned the most votes from the city, beating out 10 other candidates.
Thursday night, Woods and Reed discussed, in part, their plans to improve education, the economy and crime prevention in the city. Reed said his number one priority as mayor would be public education, investing in high quality Pre-K programs and securing better payment for educators in the city. Woods said he would focus on decreasing crime in Montgomery; he said the Montgomery Police Department is understaffed and overworked, and part of his platform will be to increase the force to 600 officers.
The candidates also talked about the city’s economy. Woods believes increasing Montgomery’s population would help the economy grow. He suggested marketing the city to retiring baby boomers by offering services to them and improving the city’s public transportation system. He also thinks the city should be selling its strengths: access to affordable housing, the presence of military, hospitals and universities. He said few cities in the southeast have the strengths Montgomery does, and playing them up will help bring people in and keep the economy growing.
While Reed believes the economy is doing well, as is job growth, he said many people are underemployed because they are working part time or they are being underpaid. Reed said Montgomery should work to recruit technology and research-based industries, as well as support small businesses within the city. He would also like to decrease the taxes placed on lower income residents, who he said are taxed at the same rate as people like himself, who have much higher salaries.
As for reducing crime, specifically youth gun violence, Woods and Reed align. Both are in favor of increasing the number of StarWatch cameras around the city, which keep an eye out for crime when police cannot. They also support mentoring programs for youth; Reed wants to invest in community based programs for kids, getting them off the street and involved in sports and future building activities.
The candidates also talked about improving the quality of life in Montgomery; both suggested revitalizing the Normandale Mall area in west Montgomery, putting housing and career readiness programs in the space. Woods also would like to see the same development plans that helped turn downtown Montgomery into a self-sustaining area brought to other parts of the city.
Woods and Reed answered many other questions related to their plans for the city. You can listen to all of their responses here.