A simple ribbon cutting revealed the split between Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Governor Kay Ivey. Battle wants Ivey’s current job.
Since Governor Ivey refuses to debate, Mayor Battle took the fight to a celebratory podium.
"Governor, thank you for being here with us today. You're going to get your frequent flyer miles for coming up here as many times as we've been able to get you up here," Battle said Wednesday.
The tension between the candidates centered around the I-565 widening project.
"565 is going to be a key for us. we're going to have to take care of 565 for the growth here, the growth from Toyota, the growth from Polaris," Battle said while on he was at the podium.
Wednesday’s comment by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle is the latest from local lawmakers since Mazda Toyota selected the area for a massive new plant.
Days after January’s announcement, State Representatives and Senators started talking about the widening of the interstate.
Governor Ivey re-approached the podium after Mayor Tommy Battle made his speech and talked about the widening project.
"Let me just remind you at the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce last month I announced that I-565 would be a high priority in bids this month for reconstruction of the interchange. The Greenbrier interchange. so I-565 is a high priority."
That exchange is the closest voters will get to a debate between Ivey and Battle. Ivey refuses to debate. She skipped a candidate’s forum a few miles down the road from Wednesday's groundbreaking at GE Aviation Facility in Huntsville.
After the private ribbon cutting was over, we asked Ivey why she returned to the podium after the Mayor.
"I just wanted to clear the air because I made that announcement. It was going to be a high priority and it is, and I made that announcement at the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce i think it was last month," she said.
Ivey was firm she is working to get the project done quickly.
"We're going to do it as fast as we can, but it's a big project and we've got to plan well. I-565 will be addressed in a timely fashion," she said.
Battle, however, questions what the word priority means to the Governor.
"I think somebody has not shown her how to make sure there is a priority there. If you are going to have a priority, then it needs to reflect in all your documents. In the Alabama Department of Transportation Development documents it does not reflect it there," he said.
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