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Opinion | Montgomery mayor’s race can’t end soon enough

Montgomery, Alabama, USA downtown skyline at dusk.

Rarely has an election day been more anticipated than Tuesday’s mayoral election in Montgomery. 

Not because voters are excited about the candidates. Not because Alabama’s capital city is anxious to elect its first black mayor. 

Mainly, people are tired of David Woods and Steven Reed. 

Tired of the bickering. Tired of the weirdness. Tired of the thinly veiled racism from Woods’ camp. Tired of the allegations of shady business dealings from Reed’s camp. 

Just tired of it all. 

The stupid commercials. The petty mailers. The hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted on the effort to lead a city that is broke and broken. 

Tired. Tired. Tired.

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Monday was a perfect example of how tiresome and ridiculous this race has become. 

Early in the day, the Montgomery Election Center, which typically handles all the counting and posting of results from elections in the city, announced that it wouldn’t be open to the public on election night. 

A bit odd, since that’s the one night the public wants the election center to be open.  

Instead, results are going to be viewed at Montgomery City Hall, where they will be shown on a giant screen. Like a football game viewing party, except without the fun and drinking. 

The election center will still receive and count the results, but only election center employees will be allowed in. 

Which means that only people hired by and basically paid by Steven Reed, who currently holds the office of Judge of Probate in Montgomery County, will be in there. The Woods campaign requested to have a representative in the center, but they were turned down. 

You can likely guess what happened next. 

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Woods filed a lawsuit in Montgomery Circuit Court asking that a judge issue a restraining order on the election center that would allow a rep from his campaign to be in the center. 

Why? Why? Why? 

First off, Reed should have recused from his duties as Judge of Probate at the very start of this thing and allowed someone in his office to oversee the election duties. There’s absolutely zero excuse for not doing so. (And by the way, John Merrill should do the same, as he runs for U.S. Senate.)

It doesn’t matter if you have the purest of pure intentions. It doesn’t matter if you would never, ever participate in any sort of funny business. 

It’s the appearance of it. 

Plus, it’s not like someone else couldn’t do Reed’s job, and it’s not like the staff appointed to oversee the election couldn’t call on Reed to get answers if serious issues arise. 

But that’s where we are with this race. 

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Hell, that’s the second lawsuit the Woods camp has threatened in the last four days. They also sent out cease and desist letters last week to TV stations because apparently they felt Reed’s TV ads attacking Woods were more egregious than Woods’ ads attacking Reed. 

Let me assure you: They were not. 

Woods and the various business interests supporting him in the shadowy background have churned out a steady stream of pathetic, racist-tinged mailers and ads that should shame anyone with a conscience. 

In one of the mailers, Reed’s head is photoshopped onto the body of a white man, who’s heading off with a suitcase stuffed with cash. In another, Reed is holding a black sack filled with cash. 

In a city teetering on the brink of disaster due to several very real problems, this is what the Woods’ camp has chosen to focus on. Which says a lot. 

I’ll give Reed this much credit: He’s at least attempted to formulate and present reasonable solutions to the problems that plague Montgomery. 

Woods, on the other hand, has tossed out absurd, shallow ideas — like hiring more cops and “make schools better” — that might please an absurd, shallow voter but have no real value in real life. He’s also leaned on the tried and true tactic for white men running for mayor in Montgomery: I’m not the black guy. 

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Thankfully, it doesn’t seem as if that will work this time. 

But no matter what happens, let’s just hope it ends soon.



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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