Today is election day in Montgomery municipal elections. Polls opened at 7 a.m. and voting is very much underway.
City of Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange was elected to head the city by way of a low-turnout special election triggered when former Mayor Bobby Bright, a Democrat, abdicated the office to pursue a seat in Congress.
Now some six years later Strange, a Republican has a record to defend and a broader general election to defend it before – plus a serious challenge being mounted by former U.S. Rep. Arthur Davis.
Davis is another former Democratic congressman in a place where – inside the city limits, anyway – voters lean Democratic despite the technically nonpartisan nature of the race.
Davis isn’t the only one gunning for Strange’s office: a slate of formidable opponents that could force the election to a run-off includes state schools official Ella Bell, Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Harris and businesswoman Buena Browder.
In campaign ads, Strange has emphasized non-ideological points like his economic development chops, not unusual for a mayor, but revealing when it comes to the dynamics of running in a moderate-leaning city which is the seat of government for one of the nation’s most conservative states.
Strange has emphasized Montgomery’s status as a jewel of “The New South” – a byword for cosmopolitan attitudes and racial integration – even as many of the state’s leaders and citizens insist on honoring symbols of its history.
Arthur Davis – in seeking a political comeback by ousting Strange – has hit the mayor from both the left and right.
Besides embracing traditional Democratic planks like economic inequality and law enforcement overreach – “MPD needs more transparency. Period.” Davis recently intoned via social media – he is also judging Strange by a fiscally conservative rubric.
“Strange increased the budget by $13 million over 6 years. Do you see $13 million worth of progress, or just more fees and less growth?” reads one recent Tweet signed “AD,” indicating it came from the candidate himself.
A recent endorsement by Strange’s hometown paper, the Montgomery Advertiser, could well come in handy in beating back such charges.
“For the past six years, Todd Strange has led Montgomery with a rare combination of integrity, vision and practicality that has greatly benefited our city,” wrote the paper’s op-ed board. “Without reservation, we recommend his re-election as mayor on Aug. 25.”
“Being mayor of this city is a demanding job. It’s not easy to balance the needs and necessities with the wishes and wants, to chart a course of responsible growth and investment within the fiscal constraints that any city has. Strange has done that, and done it well,” the paper went on.
Polls are open today in Montgomery until 7 p.m. this evening.
See below for Strange’s most recent campaign spot, taken from his website.