Valley Votes 2012: Trulock, Palmer Battle It Out In Madison Mayoral Debate

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-Madison mayoral candidates Don Palmer and Troy Trulock took their race to the debate stage Tuesday night in a battle of two political newcomers.

Neither candidate has ever held elected office, but when the bright lights of the WHNT News 19 studio came on Tuesday evening the case for their campaigns began.

Much of the race has focused on how manage growth in Madison, which U.S. Census officials say is Alabama's fastest-growing city. Both candidates took time to discuss their long-term growth plans, and how to best recruit business and industry.

"I have developers talking to me now about managing key development areas in Madison," said Trulock, who served in various leadership posts in the U.S. Army. "We do have a retail plan, we tend to keep that to ourself, but we do have a retail plan."

"My plan is to first go after the vacancy rates," said Palmer, a long-time business executive in the aviation industry. "We have a 23 percent higher vacancy rate than the metro area, let's fill those stores. County Line Boulevard is one area there, also Madison Boulevard. People know this, so it's a top priority."

Both candidates also emphasized the importance of weathering a potential round of large cuts at Redstone Arsenal, with Madison's heavily military-based community reliant on federal dollars and spending.

"Not every day is a rosy day, especially when it comes to what we rely on, the $12 billion influx from Redstone Arsenal," said Palmer. "It's all about planning and leadership."

"If we take a hit, whether it's a NASA hit or take a hit with Department of Defense, we need to spread out our activities," said Trulock. "Bring in retail, bring in other activities to help our community grow, to allow us to have jobs."