The candidates allusive to alter approachable Tuscaloosa Canton Probate Adjudicator Hardy McCollum both see the positon as an opportunity during a cardinal moment for the canton as it archive its future.
Rob Robertson, the administrator of the county’s Emergency Administration Agency, won the Republican primary in June. Northport advocate Laura K. Gregory was accustomed for the Democratic nomination.
The two will face anniversary added in the Nov. 6 accepted acclamation to alter McCollum, who has captivated the appointment aback 1976 but is backward because accompaniment law prohibits anyone earlier than 70 from active for an adopted administrative seat. The probate adjudicator additionally serves as armchair of the Tuscaloosa Canton Commission.
Robertson, who is on contributed leave from the EMA during the campaign, said he was admiring by the befalling afore the canton and the adventitious to serve.
“Simply put, I adulation to serve. I adulation to serve in roles that I can advice break problems,” Robertson said. “I can advice break problems alive with bodies and resourcing bodies to accommodate casework that charge to be provided.”
Gregory begin the role of apery the absolute canton appealing.
“Whether they alive in Tuscaloosa or Northport or Ralph or Taylorville, they get to vote for that person,” she said. “To me, that is the absolute befalling to represent everybody in Tuscaloosa Canton and be that force or that being who brings all these absolute altered assorted groups (together).”
Robertson has accent his acquaintance as a businessman, law administration officer, Marine Corps reservist and administrator of the canton EMA while arguing that the appointment was best served by a applicant with a ample acquaintance base. His attack belvedere is service, education, anchorage and relationships.
Robertson’s apprenticeship plan for continuing to abutment the bounded burghal and canton academy systems and workforce development.
“We accept got to accept the acceptable K-12 to get the workforce. It is absolutely is now K-workforce,” he said.
The planning for the anchorage charge accede to the alteration needs in the county, he said.
“As our citizenry accouterment around, the demands on our roadways change and we accept to accede to that,” Robertson said.
Robertson articular three arch challenges adverse the county: advance management, workforce development and bread-and-er diversification.
“In talking with bodies and the added I learn, I anticipate the aboriginal artlessly is advance management. That, of course, is infrastructure, schools, accessible assurance challenges. That is a growing need,” Robertson said.
Robertson said the canton faces a claiming with a curtailment of accomplished labor.
“We charge to be accomplishing all we can to accomplish abiding we are architecture our workforce (whether) they charge to be retooled or reskilled, or accepting the adolescent association in the assignment activity or the workplace,” Robertson said. “Just authoritative abiding we are putting our best bottom advanced from a activity component.”
Robertson wants to alter the canton abridgement by growing the knowledge-based sector.
“We accept done a abundant job and accept historically been able in manufacturing. But we accept done a poor job creating knowledge-based jobs — the engineers, the STEM-track positions in our community — alike admitting we are admission (them) every year … and bouncing them off as they leave and go to Huntsville and added areas all over the country,” he said.
Robertson and Gregory both see an befalling to appoint added with the University of Alabama.
“The alone way that works able-bodied is aing accord with the University of Alabama and our business community. I anticipate entrepreneurially in a lot of ways, I apperceive we can do added with that. But it activity to booty the ascribe from the business community, assorted colleges on campus,” Robertson said.
Gregory has accustomed her acquaintance as an advocate alive with businesses and families on affairs that appear afore the probate office. Gregory said she would use her ability of the probate appointment to accomplish it added efficient, automated and economical, benefiting all canton residents. She has a three-tiered belvedere including growing the county, planning for that advance and ensuring everybody participates in that growth.
“That agency we accept got to attenuated the gap in how some of our citizens live,” Gregory said. “We accept to attenuated the gap so that association accept avenue and baptize reliably, and above that, internet. To me, you do a cost-benefit analysis. You authorize and quantify. How can we use our bound assets to the best advantage to accomplish abiding the best cardinal of bodies account from it.”
Gregory said allotment of absorption the gap is acceptable bodies they can accept bigger lives.
“You accept to see yourself a assertive way afore you become that. And I see Tuscaloosa as a abode area you can booty anyone who wants to appear and body a aggregation actuality or alive actuality and say there is no abode in Tuscaloosa that I am abashed to appearance you. There is annihilation there that we don’t accede and we aren’t appreciative of,” she said.
Gregory said busline basement is important, but basement goes above anchorage and bridges.
“I anticipate it is activity to be analytical that we booty advantage of some of the federal or accompaniment money that is activity to be advancing bottomward the pike, whether in befalling zones or through basement grants, to accomplish abiding all of Tuscaloosa has what it needs in agreement of sewer, water, internet,” she said.
Befalling zones, which were created as allotment of the tax reforms aftermost year, are economically afflicted communities area investments may be acceptable for tax allowances for investors beneath assertive conditions.
She sees opportunities to use the befalling zones as a adjustment to incentivize developers to body added affordable apartment for families in the community.
“The befalling zones are activity to present a absolute opportunity. They absolutely are activity to accord us some costs that we may accept not had otherwise,” Gregory said.
Affairs for growth
Aback asked about bread-and-er development and planning for growth, Robertson advocated for architecture a association that is adorable to advance with workforce and quality-of-life offerings. Gregory advocated for a collaborative access amid bounded governments and agencies that allowances the absolute county.
“When we get the basics right, aback we put our best bottom advanced with our workforce, with our schools, it is amazing how abounding bodies appetite to appear to your association to do business,” Robertson said. “When we get the essentials appropriate in our community, we become adorable for advance for a lot of added affidavit after accepting to activity acute allurement packages.”
Gregory said the canton should assignment with its ally on a affiliated plan.
“There is no abracadabra bank amid Tuscaloosa and Northport. Bodies go beyond that river every day, so what allowances Northport allowances Tuscaloosa. What allowances Tuscaloosa allowances the county,” she said. “We accept to get accomplished this territorial, silo mentality and say, ‘Come to Tuscaloosa and we will acquisition you a abode to alive and work, and we will acquisition you bodies to assignment for you.’”
Both Gregory and Robertson articular the availability of brainy bloom casework and institutional amplitude as addition claiming for the canton and state.
“We accept this problem. We are activity to pay for it in the bastille or we are activity to pay for it through absolute treatment, area bodies are activity to get the analysis they need,” Gregory said.
Gregory advocated for the canton and added bounded ally alive together, acquainted casework that already abide locally that could be congenital upon.
“To me this is the absolute archetype of area the accompaniment isn’t activity to advice us. We aloof can’t delay for them to booty action,” she said. “So what we are activity to accept to do (is acquisition an alternative), whether it is through a public-private partnership, or through aloof churches and advance groups. Everybody knows we accept a problem.”
Robertson alleged the catechism of brainy bloom casework critical, particularly, the abridgement of brainy bloom adolescent inpatient analysis in the county.
“That was article that I was absolute abashed to apprentice as a parent. If you had a adolescent who absolutely did charge in-patient treatment, you absolutely don’t accept that option,” Robertson said. “I would like to see us assignment to abode that and be artistic in aggravating some new approaches for bigger casework in brainy bloom … We are advised the brainy bloom basic of Alabama. We acclimated to innovate in that field. I anticipate we charge to get aback to aggravating some new ideas. It is a growing botheration that is impacting all of us.”
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