woody baird and tommy spraggins

Woody Baird, left, doesn’t feel a debate would benefit his campaign. Baird will continue to spread his message through social media and other avenues. Incumbent Tommy Spraggins was excited about the opportunity but will also continue to share his message in other ways. The runoff is Oct. 6 and the deadline to register to vote is Sept. 21.

The Outlook’s plan to host a debate for Alexander City’s mayoral candidates has been halted. 

Arrangements were made with Central Alabama Community College volunteering as venue host and professional moderators had also agreed to help with the proposed debate.

Mayor Tommy Spraggins was committed to participating, but mayoral challenger Woody Baird said he felt it was in his best interest to decline the invitation.

“My political advisers who have run campaigns before — both statewide and locally — all told me the same thing: ‘You came out on top; you hold the high ground,’” Baird said. “They said there’s no inclination for me to get into a debate.”

Baird wanted to make it clear he welcomes comments, concerns and questions from voters. 

“Anyone who wants to ask me a question or discuss issues with me is welcome to anytime,” Baird said.

Just because Baird isn’t taking part in a debate doesn’t mean the work is stopping for his campaign. Baird still has his boots on the ground getting his message out to voters. 

“Social media has been huge for us,” Baird said. “We are living in a social media age. As much traction as I’ve gotten on social media, I can’t see gaining anything additional from a public forum.”

Spraggins said he was looking forward to the opportunity of a debate and is disappointed Baird doesn’t want to participate, but he will press on getting his message out to voters.

“I want to debate him,” Spraggins said. “I feel like I have an advantage there because I know the facts and exactly what’s going on in our city. I would want to participate if I were in his shoes, too. I think it would be a good opportunity for the voters.”

One thing Spraggins feels voters could benefit from at a debate is to simply see the differences between the two candidates. 

“The two candidates are totally different,” Spraggins said. “Our ideas are different; our philosophies are different. Although we have some of the same common goals of bettering the city, our visions differ.”

Either way, both candidates said they’re feeling good about their respective chances of getting elected as the runoff election approaches. 

“I’m feeling confident,” Baird said, “very confident.”

Spraggins said, “I feel very positive; I do. I’m not overconfident of course because only 23 votes separated us in the August municipal election, but I’m feeling good about my chances.”

While campaigning, Baird is sticking to the most important things in his campaign message, which are the economy, smart spending, transparency and fiscal responsibility. Baird’s goals include unifying agencies responsible for the well-being of the community; establishing a list of priorities with benchmarks to ensure goals are being accomplished; seeking economic development that is beneficial to the city; minimizing debt to be able to react to possible economic development opportunities; and ensuring the city government treats each citizen equally so citizens can be proud to call Alexander City home.

Baird said he is also focusing on being positive.

“I am keeping on point and staying in that lane with my platform,” Baird said. “I have yet to go negative and I’m not going to go negative because I don’t feel like I need to. What we’ve been doing has been working for us.”

Both candidates have also attended community events as a way to reach voters.

Spraggins and his campaign are also still utilizing other methods to spread his message, which consists of serving citizens with transparency, honor and integrity; fighting to bring strong jobs and economic growth to Alex City; continuing to protect and advocate for schools, teachers, parents and students; repairing roads, bridges and other infrastructure needs; and maintaining an open-door policy of accountability and trustworthiness.

“I’m energized and so is my team,” Spraggins said. “We’re doing a combination of things — some door to door, attending as many events as possible, social media, videos, commercials with local TV, signage, informative handout cards and that kind of thing.

“We are working hard to remind voters the highlights of my time in office the past 16 months and also introducing those who may not know me to my commitment to the community over the last 30 years. We want the citizens to know exactly who I am and what I stand for.”

Both Baird and Spraggins willingly participated in TPI's virtual political forum prior to the Aug. 25 election. 

The runoff is Oct. 6 and the deadline to register to vote is Sept. 21.

Santana Wood is the managing editor of The Outlook.