The Montgomery Mayor’s race
… winds up today. Based on the commercials run by the two men who can afford to buy commercial time in any quantity, apparently it’s all about crime. The incumbent, Bobby Bright, defends his record and touts the progress Montgomery is supposed to have made (in baseball, car plants, and downtown development, mainly) while Scott Simmons promises to hire more police, spins his endorsements from fire and police associations (without telling you how many or few employees of those departments that is), and spanks Bright for an off-the-cuff remark he made to a civic group wherein he encouraged people to get a gun and be ready to defend themselves.
Somewhere (over at the ABC Board office), Emory Folmar must be sitting back and smiling. I’m not sure he ever faced serious, well-funded opposition until Bobby Bright unhorsed him after several terms.
It’s a healthy thing that there are four candidates for mayor in Montgomery, AL – 2 black and 2 white – that seem to be seriously running. It’s an amazing thing that there are four people who want the job.
Simmon’s focus on crime was not decided on in a vacuum. Crime is a major topic of conversation among Montgomerians I know (admittedly, only among the people whose cars and houses have been broken into). The 32nd homicide for the year was yesterday, on Carmichael Road, which is supposed to be on the “good” side of town, whatever that means.
Another topic that I haven’t heard nearly as much discussion about is tax. Bright’s support of an occupational tax rattled a lot of us in the business community. An occupational tax is a tax levied on wages, and it only comes out of the bag when a lot of the wage-earners in a city start choosing to live and shop outside of the city (I’m not sure whether the Bright administration proposed to levy it against city employees, like all the Montgomery police officers who live in Prattville). Not only does it rankle, it’s a signal that the community is giving up on trying to foster growth and that somebody in administration skipped Macroeconomics in school. When they floated that winner a year or two ago, we were nearly overrun by business owners coming up to Prattville and looking around.
Some Prattville residents frankly like to gloat about this sort of thing a bit too much. Prattville (and other communities north of the river) doesn’t benefit from Montgomery having problems. While we’ve grown beyond being “bedroom communities,” a look at the interstate going south every morning tells you there are still a lot of us working in Montgomery. While my business is in Prattville, I probably go to Montgomery every day.
While no one in Montgomery ever said this until Prattville and Millbrook started exploding in growth, we truly are a “River Region,” and what’s bad for Montgomery is bad for all of us. I hope whoever wins can do something about “Crime and Perception” and maybe even try to make Montgomery safe for business owners.