Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, a lifelong conservative and small business owner, announced Friday morning he will run to serve as Alabama’s next governor in the 2018 Alabama Republican Primary.
Combining the work ethic he learned as a 14-year-old working in his father’s restaurant with his experiences as a conservative small businessman and mayor, Battle laid out a case for his candidacy as a responsible leader from outside the state government.
“For too long, the people of Alabama have seen our values come under attack,” said Battle. “Alabama has endured corruption instead of opportunity. Scandal instead of education. Embarrassment instead of pride.
“We’re not just in a battle for Alabama’s values, we’re in a battle for Alabama’s future,” Battle added. “I’m running for governor because I’m ready to lead that fight.”
Battle grew up in Birmingham, attending Berry High School. He didn’t have to look far outside his family for role models. There was his father, Tommy Sr., who operated a Britling’s Cafeteria in Birmingham, and whom Battle calls “my hero. He’s somebody who taught you if you talk the talk, you walk the walk.”
Battle has served as Huntsville’s mayor for eight years. Under his leadership, more than 17,000 new jobs have been created for the area, including the addition of Remington Arms Company and Polaris. Battle’s conservative management has generated more than $2.5B in economic investment for Huntsville and has earned the city eight straight Triple-A credit ratings. When faced with Montgomery’s decision to cancel long-standing commitments on area road projects, Battle worked with community and elected leaders to find a pay-as-you-go solution to build more than $500M in roads and infrastructure. He has taken a fiscally conservative, results-driven approach to creating new jobs and better opportunities for Alabamians.
In 2016, Battle worked with leaders across the state to support the Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act. Approved unanimously by the Alabama State Legislature and overwhelmingly by state voters, the act gave more authority to local leaders in communities pursuing major economic development and job creating projects.
“Our state’s challenges are real and they can’t wait,” said Battle. “Politicians talk; leaders get things done. It’s time we had a state government that talks less, listens to our people, and gets things done for them.”
Battle added, “As a mayor, you simply don’t have the option of leaving a mess for someone else to clean up.
“We make decisions. Sometimes tough decisions that will impact the lives of our cities and residents. That’s what we’re trusted to do.”
Battle, along with the mayors of Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa, meet regularly to discuss ways they can work together on finding solutions to the frequent issues passed to them by the state. The “Big 5” mayors began their meetings in 2014 and continue to meet quarterly.
“When we work together, we can do great things for our entire state,” said Battle.
“It’s time we make Alabama stronger for all of us.”
Battle, 61, and his wife Eula have been married for 28 years. He and Eula, a retired former teacher of the year in Madison County Schools, have a shared commitment to education and to affecting positive change for both students and educators. As mayor, Huntsville has built more than $250M in new school facilities, and in 2010 he launched the Mayor Battle’s Book Club, a program which has provided more than 80,000 books to elementary aged students in the city’s Title 1 schools.
Eula’s passion for teaching and education led her to co-found the Free 2 Teach program that provides free resources to teachers in Madison County’s three public school systems. The resources include many classroom supplies teachers often pay for out-of-pocket and are available to nearly 4,000 teachers and their 52,000 students.
Battle emphasized his gubernatorial campaign will focus on bringing communities across Alabama’s 67 counties together to create new opportunities in economic development, infrastructure, roads, education, and job creation.
“This campaign isn’t going to be against anyone,” said Battle. “It’s going to be for Alabama.”
Tommy and Eula have one son, Drew, a daughter-in-law Lauren, and a grandson George. They are active members of Trinity United Methodist Church in Huntsville.