- Associated Press - Sunday, January 17, 2021

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Gene Stallings, the last University of Alabama football coach to win a national championship before Nick Saban entered the picture, joined former player Martin Houston as the one-time running back announced his campaign for mayor.

Stallings, who lives in Texas but came to Tuscaloosa for the event on Thursday, said it was his “pure joy” to speak on behalf of Houston, who now works for an insurance company, pastors a church in Coker and has a sports talk radio show.

“He’s going to be honest. He’s not going to play favorites. He’s going to do the job that he’s supposed to do. And if I had a vote in this county, my vote would be for Martin Houston,” said Stallings, who won a national title at Alabama in 1992 with a team that included Houston and retired in 1996.

The Tuscaloosa News reported Houston was the first challenger to announce a bid against Mayor Walk Maddox, who is seeking a fifth term in the nonpartisan election on March 2. Maddox lost a Democratic bid for governor in 2018.

First elected in 2005, Maddox is running on a record that includes helping navigate the Great Recession, the recovery from the 2011 tornado destroyed much of the city and killed more than 50 people and the pandemic.

“There is no denying that we have had our fair share of challenges along the way. Yet, even through the shadows … we have delivered real and lasting results that have created a bridge to a brighter future,” Maddox said in a message to voters.

Houston said he wasn’t running against Maddox so much as he is running to help the city.

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