District 6 Race Pits Incumbent Eddie Pugh Against Two Challengers
As Tuscaloosa voters prepare go to vote in municipal elections on March 2nd, three candidates are vying to represent the city's District 6. Incumbent Councilman Eddie Pugh is seeking re-election for his third term in office while newcomers John Faile and Eric Gaines look to unseat him.
The Tuscaloosa Thread was able to speak with all three candidates about their plans for the district.
Candidate John Faile
Former Tuscaloosa Police Captain and alumnus of The University of Alabama, Faile has decided to run to try and be the "independent voice" on the council. The Tuscaloosa native said that if he is elected he will be pro-law enforcement and wants to be financially conservative.
"Our current councilman has voted with the mayor, almost right down the line and on some of those things, it was probably the right thing to do, but I believe that we need somebody that's an independent voice," Faile said.
After retiring from the force, Faile spent time as the Director of the Tuscaloosa County Juvenile Detention Facility until 2017. He also found other ways to stay involved in his community such as coaching youth baseball for 10 years, serving as president of the King-Hubbard Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, and was involved with the Woodlands Homeowners Association serving one year as president.
"I'm just a Tuscaloosa guy, I care about it," Faile said. "I feel like I've worked in public service all my life and I just think we can do better than we are doing right now."
Candidate Eric Gaines
Like Faile, Gaines' said he is seeking the District 6 seat to put his own imprint on the community — hence his slogan: "New voice, New vision." A Flint, Michigan native, Gaines has been a resident in the Tuscaloosa community for over 30 years. His time as a real estate agent, businessman and resident fueled his passions for defending small businesses, creating affordable housing and promoting community safety.
Gaines said that while he was campaigning in the district the city's response to COVID-19 was "unexpected."
"It hasn't been efficient enough," Gaines said. "That may not be a Tuscaloosa thing, it may be a nationwide thing but even if you can't do anything, let's go talk to [small business owners]. Just don't leave the people hanging."
Gaines served as a soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve for more than 20 years. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Beulah Baptist Church and the Woodland Forest Elementary parent-teacher association.
"If I win on March 2, in 2022 [District 6 residents] will think it is another election because I'm still going to be out there saying, 'Hey how are you folks doing,'" Gaines said. "We don't want to just sit at city hall and wait for something to happen, we're going to be proactive."
Incumbent Councilman Eddie Pugh
Councilman Pugh has served two terms as the councilman for District 6, a position he has held since unseating Bob Lundell in 2013. Pugh announced his plans for reelection in October saying he had some things he "wanted to finish up."
In an exclusive interview with The Tuscaloosa Thread, Pugh said that there is a lot happening in the district including a $1 million push to pave roads in district neighborhoods over the next two years. He also said that he will not "back down" from developers who want to build apartment complexes in the area.
"In 2013, I believe I made the motion that [the city] not approve any apartment complex larger than 200 bedrooms," Pugh said. "That was a policy and I stuck to it. I don't back down from the big developers and I am not for all of these big apartment complexes."
Pugh spent 35 years as a member of the Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue department before retiring as a Battalion Chief. During his career with the department, Pugh received multiple accolades including the Professional Fire Fighter of Alabama Jim Clinton Award and the International Association of Fire Fighters Leadership Award. Pugh said his time as a Battalion Chief helped him be prepared for his time as a councilman.
"Learning and talking to citizens and learning how everything operates is one of the most important things that I think I do as well as anyone," Pugh said. "I think I'm prepared when I go to city council meetings because I know the issues."
The municipal elections will be held on March 2.
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