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Opinion | A white mayor isn’t the answer for Montgomery; neither is a black mayor.

The downtown Montgomery skyline. STOCK

A black mayor will ruin the city of Montgomery. 

I know this to be true because I read it in Facebook comments. See, what will happen, according to Al O’Neil, is that the blacks will “revert back to more violent activities because they think they have a mayor that will condone reckless behaviors.” And the city, maybe even the entire state of Alabama, will be doomed. 

Al knows this because … well, I don’t know how Al knows this, because his Facebook page, which consists primarily of Bible verses and anti-liberal memes, doesn’t tell me much about his background. But he probably knows what he’s talking about. Why else would he say such hateful nonsense in the comments section of a post on the WSFA Facebook page? 

Al knows the answer is to vote for a white man. To keep “the blacks” in line. 

And really, he has a point. 

If the wrong person (ie, a black person) is elected, Montgomery could wind up nearly bankrupt, overrun with crime, with awful schools and one of the worst racism problems in America. 

Oh, wait. 

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The David Woods campaign flipped on the racist signal just after the general election a few weeks ago, and like albino moths to a porch light, the Montgomery racists, like Al (who insists he’s not “prejudice”), have stormed to the forefront. 

It’s embarrassing. But not at all unexpected. 

After what had been a relatively peaceful and respectful mayor’s race, the Woods camp decided to muddy things up. And they went directly for the race card first, dragging Steven Reed’s father, Joe Reed, a vice-chairman in the Alabama Democratic Party, into the mix for no apparent reason and then sending out one of the worst polls in the history of politics. 

How bad was the poll? Here is one question for which those polled had to select an answer ranging from “much more likely” to “much less likely”: 

“If Steven Reed wins the election for mayor, people will move out of the city because they are worried about what Montgomery will become.” 

The next question was about Joe Reed “running the city of Montgomery through his son,” and whether that will “ruin our town.” 

Another question states that “Steven Reed is no different than his dad, Joe Reed.”

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And finally, there was this doozy: “Steven Reed wants to force his belief in gay marriage on us.”

It was a pathetic attempt to scare voters into fearing the black man, the son of the guy who used to challenge the white mayor. 

And it’s failing miserably. 

A recent poll, conducted by Secrest Strategies, of 500 likely Montgomery voters found that Reed — even after all of that race-baiting by the Woods camp — was up 23 percentage points on Woods, 54-31. And most of those voters were solidly behind Reed. 

It gave me some hope. 

That maybe, for once, racism wasn’t going to win in Alabama. That voters — a good chunk of them white voters — were going to ignore the ignorant, desperate attempt to push fear and hate and instead vote for the more qualified candidate. 

That guys like Al, and all of his buddies who have bombarded social media over the last couple of weeks with their stupid beliefs and idiotic suggestions, would be left sitting in their trailers as the world moved on without them. 

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That maybe, just maybe, a whole bunch of people — white, black and other — took a look at the city of Montgomery, with its horrid racist past and its current failures, and realized that white people haven’t exactly been doing a bang up job running the place, so maybe the color of the mayor’s skin was less important than his ideas, his intelligence and his decency. 

It’s a shame that the race to decide who will lead Montgomery has, like so many other things in that city, devolved into a race fight among many people. It’s a shame that so many people still divide things up like that, period. 

Because the fact is the color of the mayor’s skin doesn’t matter at all. It never has. It won’t take a black mayor or a white mayor to save Montgomery. 

It’ll take a good mayor.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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