Walt Maddox wins fifth term as mayor

And some council members will be saying farewell to City Hall

Maddox+at+a+March+12%2C+2020+presser%2C+where+he+discussed+the+city%27s+response+to+COVID-19

CW / Hannah Saad

Maddox at a March 12, 2020 presser, where he discussed the city’s response to COVID-19

On March 2, Walt Maddox was re-elected mayor of Tuscaloosa for a fifth term, beating out UA professor Serena Fortenberry and local pastor Martin Houston. 

The election results indicate that Tuscaloosa had a 20% voter turnout.

Final Results: Mayor      

Walt Maddox – 7,017     

Martin Houston – 3,536                                       

Serena Fortenberry – 1,849

Maddox expressed his gratitude to Tuscaloosa residents for entrusting him to lead for four more years. 

“The people of Tuscaloosa decided two things tonight. First, they decided it’s better to be united than divided. And number two, they decided that the future is better than the past,” he said. “I know this is not about us. It’s about Tuscaloosa.” 

Maddox thanked his opponents for a spirited and competitive race, but also described it as vitriolic, calling attention to the billboards throughout the city that have criticized his policies. The billboards, which have been in place for almost a year, were paid for by Stan Pate, a local real estate mogul. 

“Tuscaloosa is better than dirty politics. Tuscaloosa is better than negative politics,” he said. “We never issued one critical ad against our opponents.”

When asked if he had any plans to run for the U.S. Senate or state government, Maddox said he was content with his family in Tuscaloosa.

“This is the best city in America,” he said. “Why the hell would I want to move anywhere else, right?”

Maddox was first elected in 2005 after Al Dupont, Tuscaloosa’s longest serving mayor, decided not to seek re-election.

Maddox ran unopposed during the following two races. In 2017, he won re-election after being challenged by Stepfon Lewis, a local community activist, who received only 11% of the vote. 

Since Maddox’s first term, he has led the city through the devastating tornado in April 2011, the financial crisis of 2008 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Houston, a local businessman, pastor and former Crimson Tide football player, hosted a watch party on election night. 

“Congratulations to Mayor Maddox, and also to Dr. Fortenberry for getting into the fray,” Houston said. “Tomorrow we will wake up as one Tuscaloosa. I still believe this can be a great town, and I hope that every citizen feels they will be represented as we move forward.” 

Fortenberry chose not to host a watch party due to the pandemic, but released a statement on social media thanking those who supported her campaign. 

“If I have done nothing else, I hope that I have changed the conversations in Tuscaloosa, and directed more eyes toward city hall and what happens inside it,” she said. “If you voted, volunteered, or donated to my campaign, I cannot thank you enough! It was worth it!”

Longtime incumbent Kip Tyner won his race for the City Council District 5 seat against UA student Sam Badger. This is Tyner’s seventh term in office, making him Tuscaloosa’s longest serving elected official. Tyner won more than 80% of the vote. 

But other council members could be nearing the end of their terms. Runoffs will take place for districts 1 and 6 on April 13. Norman Crow will represent District 3 after winning by a wide margin. Councilwoman Sonya McKinstry fell 25 votes short of Cassius Lanier in her bid for a third term.