Montgomery turns out to choose mayor and council

Bertha Allen donned a yellow shirt supporting Charles Dillihay. She served as the town crier Tuesday for the Huntington College polling precinct, beckoning in Montgomery municipal election voters.

"V-O-T-E, vote, vote, vote, show your candidate support," Allen yelled over and over.

At about 1:30 p.m., 19,998 people had voted. That's about 14% of the 138,770 registered voters in the city.

In 2019, the last municipal election, 31% of Montgomery's registered voters cast a ballot, and about the same percentage is expected by the time polls close this year, Probate Judge JC Love said. Love said that he expected voting to pick up from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. as people get off work.

A morning crowd streamed steadily in to vote at the Huntington location Tuesday, where both mayoral candidate Barrett Gilbreath and incumbent Mayor Steven Reed voted. Both men had busy mornings stopping at polls and chatting with voters.

“It’s been a good morning," Reed said.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed talks with supporters Tuesday outside of the Huntington College voting precinct during municipal election day.
Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed talks with supporters Tuesday outside of the Huntington College voting precinct during municipal election day.

Gilbreath said he has done all he can do.

“It’s just another day. I’ve not been nervous. I’ve had a peace about it all week. I feel like I’ve done my best," he said.

Reed prayed for God's will to be done.

Gilbreath expressed a similar sentiment.

“I love Montgomery, and I want it to be a place where everybody is proud to call home," Gilbreath said.

Mayoral candidate Barrett Gilbreath leaves with his wife, Ashley, after voting Tuesday at the Huntington College voting precinct.
Mayoral candidate Barrett Gilbreath leaves with his wife, Ashley, after voting Tuesday at the Huntington College voting precinct.

If elected, Reed said he wants to continue improving conditions for people across the city. He hopes to have a more ambitious agenda that is not hampered by a pandemic. Reed said he wants to continue to invest in public safety so people will feel comfortable, regardless of where they are in the city.

Meanwhile, Gilbreath has discussed his desire to unite the city of Montgomery and improve public safety as well. He has also focused heavily on recruiting more police officers to the department.

Montgomery City Council candidate Andrew Szymanski was out at Huntington visiting voters on Election Day as well. He said his team has knocked on 4,200 doors, and they have sent out 18,000 texts and 9,500 mailers throughout the course of his campaign, which started in January.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm," Szymanski said.

Jessie Harris was out with her daughter voting at the Huntington location. She said she was voting for Reed.

“It’s important to me because when you’re voting for somebody you’re voicing your opinion," Harris said. "I love Montgomery."

Charlotte and Joe Mussafer are long-time Montgomery residents who voted at the Huntington location Tuesday. They said the process was smooth.

“Voting is very important," Charlotte Mussafer said. “We want what’s best for the city."

Voters arrive Tuesday at the Coliseum Boulevard Library voting precinct in Montgomery.
Voters arrive Tuesday at the Coliseum Boulevard Library voting precinct in Montgomery.

Over on Atlanta Highway, the Frazer Church polling place saw a consistent stream of voters throughout the morning.

Longtime Montgomery residents Frank and Kay Bray exercise their right to vote every election, and this year was no different. “We never miss it,” Kay Bray said. “That's our civic duty. My husband is a veteran, and we just love our city and our nation.”

Like the Brays, Harvey and Martha Stanton have been casting their ballots at Frazer for years.

“Ever since we've had a right to vote, we’ve voted,” Harvey Stanton said. “People died for the right to vote, and I don’t want them to have died for nothing.”

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed arrives to vote Tuesday during the municipal elections in Montgomery.
Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed arrives to vote Tuesday during the municipal elections in Montgomery.

The couple has lived here since their college days at Alabama State, and both agreed that it’s important for them to be active citizens of the city they love. One issue that is particularly influential for the Stantons this year is crime.

“The access of weapons that our youth are having, it just seems to be out of control,” Martha Stanton said. “In one area we lived, we didn't see the police often in our community unless we called, and I just think that we need that kind of presence throughout the city, if at all possible.”

Other significant issues that voters mentioned at the polls included garbage pickup delays and support for Montgomery Public Schools.

More: Mayoral Q&A Here's how each mayoral candidate says they would improve Montgomery

Mayoral candidate Barrett Gilbreath and his wife Ashley Gilbreath talk with supporters Tuesday after voting at the Huntington College voting precinct.
Mayoral candidate Barrett Gilbreath and his wife Ashley Gilbreath talk with supporters Tuesday after voting at the Huntington College voting precinct.

Alex Gladden is the Montgomery Advertiser's public safety reporter. She can be reached at agladden@gannett.com or on Twitter @gladlyalex.

Hadley Hitson covers children's health, education and welfare for the Montgomery Advertiser. She can be reached at hhitson@gannett.com. To support her work, subscribe to the Advertiser.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Election day brings in Montgomery voters