HUNTSVILLE — Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said Alabama has serious problems but that he sees only rhetoric coming out of Montgomery.
“We have a state where we are about to leave the next generation worse off than the one we inherited. You look at where we are in every quality-of-life ranking. We are at or near the bottom. That needle has not moved in 45 years,” Maddox said in an interview with The Associated Press.
A Democratic candidate for governor, and often viewed as a rising star in the party, Maddox is proposing a state lottery that would fund a mixture of college scholarships, pre-kindergarten expansion and assistance for the state’s poorest and struggling schools.
“I am tired of educating kids in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee,” Maddox said in a recent speech in Madison County, referencing how neighboring state lotteries benefit from tickets purchased by Alabamians.
Maddox, 45, is a native of Tuscaloosa. He has degrees in political science and public administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he was a defensive lineman on the university’s fledgling football team. Maddox has been Tuscaloosa’s mayor since 2005. He previously served as personnel director for the Tuscaloosa public schools and worked five years as a field director of the Alabama Education Association, which represents public school teachers and employees. Longtime AEA leader Paul Hubbert had approached Maddox about taking over for him when he retired in 2012. Maddox declined, saying at the time Tuscaloosa was recovering from a deadly tornado outbreak, and “Tuscaloosa was where I needed to be.”
His campaign for governor has put on an emphasis on education and health care. Maddox said, if elected, he would immediately sign an executive order to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, saying it would provide critical resources to keep rural hospitals open and provided needed health care.