Montgomery businessman Barret Gilbreath announced on Thursday his candidacy for mayor of Montgomery.

With only three candidates in the race, Gilbreath's main competition will be incumbent Mayor Steven Reed.

Reed, who has a comfortable lead in preliminary polls, took office as the city's first black mayor in 2019.

Gilbreath told 1819 News he never has run for or held political office, but the current state of crime in the city gave him the push he needed to throw his hat in the ring.

"I would say that the main thing that prompted me to run is my family," Gilbreath said. "We moved away from Montgomery three years ago, and a year ago moved back. We weren't happy with the direction Montgomery was headed when we left, and it didn't seem to get any better. In fact, I think it probably got worse while we were gone."

He continued, "We're not going anywhere. I've got three small kids. I'd love to see Montgomery be a place where they can call home one day and be proud to call home. But that's not true just for our family; I'd like that for everybody."

Gilbreath said that while listening to Montgomery residents, the feedback was "overwhelmingly positive" and that crime in the city was the most prevalent concern amongst those with whom he has spoken.

"I don't think it matters where you live or what neighborhood you call home; when crime affects your neighborhood, it affects your overall sense of well-being," Gilbreath said. "It affects your overall quality of life. It affects your home value, your real estate potential. And when I talk to people, the main thing I hear is the frustration with crime because no one wants to explain to their kids, 'yeah, those are gunshots.'"

"We've just lost focus on what I think it would take to help Montgomery reach its potential. Our numbers in public safety are down. I know we've got more officers budgeted than we have on the force. And I understand there are hiring problems in all industries, not just law enforcement, but I think we can do a better job in recruitment. We've got to let law enforcement know that we're behind them, and we support them in their efforts to keep us safe. I think it's more about just an overall improved quality of life for everybody, and I think that starts with the crime issue."

While Gilbreath wants to avoid mudslinging in the race, he did not hesitate to point to areas where he believes Reeds' priorities to be less than clear.    

"I'm not really sure what the mayor's priorities are, and I think a lot of people may feel that way," Gilbreath explained. "I can tell you that I'm not interested in moving on to higher political office. I never dreamed I would get into politics to start with. My focus is I think Montgomery is worth fighting for. You know, I would love to be able to sit on the corner of my kids' bed at night and not have our prayers interrupted by gunfire. So, I don't know what his priorities are. I can tell you that mine would be the city of Montgomery and its people. The people of Montgomery are some of the finest I've ever met, and that's part of the reason why my wife and I moved back."

Montgomery's municipal election will be held on August 22.

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