By June Mathews
For The Tribune
TRUSSVILLE — For the first time ever, The Trussville Tribune is taking a page, figuratively speaking, from Time magazine with regard to its 91-year-old tradition of naming a Person of Year. As defined by Time’s former managing editor, Walter Isaacson, those chosen for the honor have always been “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives…and embodied what was important about the year…”
Though the differences between the two publications are vast, Time’s criteria fit the Tribune’s purposes perfectly and made this initial choice a simple task. Thus, has Trussville Mayor Buddy Choat been named The Trussville Tribune’s 2018 Person of the Year.
“This recognition is not necessarily an award, but an opportunity to recognize a person who has been influential in our community,” said Tribune Publisher Scott Buttram. “In this case, deciding who to recognize was only a matter of looking out our window here at the Tribune office and seeing all the changes that have taken place on Main Street since Mayor Choat was elected in 2016. After decades of everybody talking about downtown revitalization, things are getting done.”
And in Buttram’s opinion, it’s no coincidence that the activity downtown and beyond has occurred during the two years since Choat took office.
“He’s clearly a man who gets things done,” Buttram said. “What we have here in Trussville is a rare breed: a politician who keeps his promises, a leader who inspires others to action, and a visionary who sees what our city can be and furthermore, knows how to make it happen.”
Elected to the first of his two terms on the Trussville City Council in 2008, Choat served as the council’s 2013- 14 president. He additionally served as the council’s liaison to the Trussville Public Library, while also working with Trussville Parks & Recreation and the Trussville Downtown Redevelopment Authority.
In announcing his candidacy for mayor in early 2016, Choat said his decision was based on a number of things, “but none more important than to serve the residents of the community I love.”
Chief among his campaign promises was to continue working on downtown redevelopment and to bring more economic development opportunities to Trussville. Halfway through the current term, Choat, along with a supportive city council and other city leaders, has taken major strides toward fulfilling both.
In his state of the city address in October 2017, Choat unveiled plans for a family-friendly entertainment district in the heart of downtown Trussville, a project that is now well underway.
“The enthusiasm,” he said at the time, “is not only from the people of Trussville but people outside of Trussville, who are now seeing what can happen here. They want to come to a safe environment that has a wonderful neighborhood, great community support, and events that are family-friendly. Our whole downtown area should grow from this experience and we are excited about that.”
During his state of the city address in October 2018, Choat announced the formation of a committee to lead in the creation of a 20-year economic development plan for the city called Vision 2040. He also called on others to become involved.
“We’ve got to define what we’re going to do, and you’ve got to help me,” said Choat in his typical self-effacing style. “I can’t do it alone.”
Choat and wife Ginny, married for 45 years, made Trussville their home 26 years ago. They have three grown children and six grandchildren.
Editor’s Note: In what we plan to be an annual feature, we are pleased to announce the first Trussville Tribune Person of the Year for 2018. This recognition is not necessarily an award, but an opportunity to recognize a person who was influential in the communities served by The Trussville Tribune. Every day, elected officials, business leaders, volunteers and citizens from every walk of life endeavor to improve the communities in which we live. Beginning later this month, The Trussville Tribune will also recognize a Person of the Month. While the Person of the Year may come from this group, those considered will not be limited to the group.