MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - This is one part in our series on the candidates in Alabama's upcoming June 5 gubernatorial primary elections.
"It's a new leadership, a different leadership, from what's been here for 30 years," says Tommy Battle. His pitch boils down to his record and experience in Huntsville as the city's mayor.
Want jobs? Battle points to 24,000 new jobs, and $3 billion worth of investment, and says Huntsville has improved education and roads, all things Battle describes as a "precursor to growth."
"Growth means opportunity. We want to provide opportunity for everyone in Alabama," the mayor states..
WHO IS TOMMY BATTLE?
Battle took over as Huntsville's mayor 10 years ago. Since then, he's tackled challenges from education to infrastructure while adding more than 20,000 jobs. He says the whole essence of running for governor is so he can bring the success of Huntsville to the entire state.
WHY BATTLE SHOULD HAVE YOUR VOTE
"I have a record. That's the most important thing of this race," Battle explains.
If you need a reference on whether or not you should vote for him, Battle says ask the 400,000 people living in the north Alabama and Huntsville areas.
Battle knows about Gov Kay Ivey's claims of job creation over the last year, but he contends 60 percent of the new jobs claim are from his area alone, including the Toyota/Mazda plant.
JOBS AND ECONOMY
"People will say they are going to bring jobs, but no one has experience bringing jobs except for me," Battle asserts.
Over his tenure, Battle says 62 percent of Alabama's job growth has come from the Huntsville area. He points to major companies like Polaris, GE Aviation, Remington, Mazada/Toyota and others all making their homes near Huntsville.
Battle wants to implement his same plan for the entire state.
His first two focuses: improve education and improve the state's infrastructure. He says by providing the workers and making sure things like transportation are easy to do, it makes the task of attracting more jobs much easier. The two focus plan is simple on purpose. Battle says you do not want to throw "too much at the plate at one time."
EDUCATION AND LOTTERY
For Battle, the issue with Alabama's education system is not the overall system but the pockets of poor performance.
In Huntsville, they had what he called an accountability system which would test children both at the beginning and end of the year to make sure there was a year's worth of advancement.
Battle promotes getting the community involved to help improve education.
When it comes to a potential lottery, Battle sees it as nothing more than "a financial tool." He supports a potential vote on the lottery but would only want to see the money go toward what he calls "job multipliers" like education. Battle said a potential lottery commission must be honest and transparent.
Battle voted against a lottery the last time people had a chance to vote on the issue.
"Where you get the money is going to be key for everything you want to do in government," Battle says.
To make sure the Alabama taxpayers' dollar goes as far as possible, Battle wants to carry out an audit on the state books and structure of the government. He said people often talk about the spending and waste problems in Montgomery. Through the auditing process, Battle says the state should be able to find out the truth of the matter.
Battle won't rule anything out when it comes to potential revenue, including taxes, but says it would be the last thing he would want to do.
"I think it's a tax and spend philosophy and say 'Hey, we need to expand Medicaid'," Battle maintains. Instead, he wants Alabama to "think outside the box" when it comes to solving the ever-rising healthcare costs.
Battle threw out suggestions like using nursing homes in rural areas and telecommunications with nurse practitioners.
Medicaid costs have risen by tens of millions of dollars and has continued to be the state's largest agency in the general fund.
He was clear though, the state needs to be more proactive instead of reactive when it comes to healthcare to help the state avoid paying big ticket costs like hospital visits.