Madison Mayor candidates discuss leadership, argue visions for city’s future at debate


L to R: Paul Finley, Hanu Karlapalem, & Troy Trulock (Photo: WHNT)

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MADISON, Ala. -- The three candidates for Madison Mayor squared off Wednesday night in a debate hosted by WHNT News 19 and the Madison City PTA.

The three candidates running for mayor are: current Mayor Troy Trulock, former Mayor Paul Finley, and businessman Hanu Karlapalem. Read our pre-debate Q&A with the candidates.

The key to each candidate’s platform: leadership, or current lack thereof.

Karlapalem and Finley largely blamed a lack of leadership and vision in top city offices for the city’s problems, while Trulock repeatedly stated that he is the only person currently engaged in working with other leaders to solve issues facing the city.

With Madison Police Chief Larry Muncey currently on administrative leave, pending his appeal of a federal judge's decision to hold him in contempt of court and Madison Fire & Rescue Chief Ralph Cobb on administrative leave pending his retirement, Karlapalem and Finley further pointed to a lack of leadership within the top city offices as issues hurting the community.

Trulock said he is, in fact, acting as a leader by listening to the legal advice of experts to leave Muncey on administrative leave until the appeal has gone through the proper legal channels. He said that small mistakes can be very costly to defend in court, so his stance is to listen to the advice of experts on this matter.

Finley said that a decision about the two chiefs should have been made by the mayor and city council long ago, calling the absence at the top of the departments a "major threat." Karlapalem said that he didn't have enough information to decide Muncey's fate, but the high turnover within the Madison Police Department points to weak leadership.

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The theme of "leadership" was further played out when an audience member asked the candidates exactly how they defined the word.

Karlapalem said being proactive, respectful, and earning the respect of the people is the key to leadership, while remaining humble enough to seek the advice of experts.

Finley said leadership starts with listening. The vision for a better quality of life for the citizens starts there, he answered.

Trulock said his experience in the military as an officer taught him leadership skills that he has put to use as the leader of the city of Madison.

If you missed the debate, don't worry. You can view it in the player below. Be sure to vote on August 23 - the day municipal elections are held across Alabama.

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