Meet Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox

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The first thing I learned about Walter Maddox the day I interviewed him was from his secretary.

“He’ll be just another minute,” she told me. “He’s been in back to back meeting all day and just needs to run to the restroom.”

Clearly, this is a man who isn’t afraid of hard work. Walter Maddox has been Tuscaloosa’s mayor for over a decade now, and in that time, he’s made incredible progress on the projects that are near and dear to his heart. A Tuscaloosa native who continues to live here with his family, he cares deeply about projects in the community. When asked about what he’s most proud of during his time as mayor, he says that his biggest accomplishments are helping the city recover from the 2011 tornado, and expanding Pre-K literacy programs.

“Expanding literacy programs for the kids doesn’t just help them in school,” Maddox says. “It helps upgrade their lives.”

It’s clear that he’s passionate about this program from the way he talks about it. Maddox seemed genuinely excited when he spoke of going into classrooms to help the 220 children per year that are part of this accelerated reading program. He makes the point that with education as a focal point of these early enrollment programs, there have been improvements in the overall quality of life for these kids, which is crucial as he believes the state is “in crisis” from failing infrastructure, and a lack of available and affordable healthcare, including mental health facilities. According to Maddox, one of the largest providers of mental health care facilities is the Tuscaloosa County Jail.

“The government in Montgomery has failed,” Maddox said. “There are no lobbyists working for the people [on these issues].”

Maddox went on to say that he loves the people of Alabama, and he loves the diversity within the state. In particular, he expressed a great admiration for the people of Tuscaloosa in the face of the 2011 tornado. He said they were “resilient” in the face of the devastation and “rebuilt well.” He continues to express that the best way to improve the state’s situation was to “start local”. A Tuscaloosa native who attended UAB, Maddox has done just that. He says that he kind of stumbled into being mayor accidentally, but loves serving the community he grew up in. However, just a few days after my interview with them, he announced his big for governor in the 2018 election. When speaking about his (then potential) bid for governor, Maddox insisted that if he ran, his focus would be on the people of Alabama. Maddox has been a long time Democrat, but said he cares about “results, not rhetoric,” and all of his work in Tuscaloosa over the last decade reflects that. The last, and arguably most important, question of our interview, was if he was a fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

“Absolutely,” he said, grinning widely and laughing.

Photos via waltmaddox.com

About The Author

Bailey Oedewaldt is a senior at the University of Alabama studying International Studies, French, and Russian. She loves studying languages, traveling, and trying new foods. She is a proud member of the Alabama Boxing Team. Roll Tide!

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