Citizens hear from candidates

Published 9:52 am Friday, April 20, 2018

VALLEY — A candidate forum held Thursday evening at Bradshaw-Chambers County Library drew some good participation on the part of the candidates for local and state offices. The forum was sponsored by the Chambers County New South Alliance with Dr. Randy B. Kelley serving as the moderator.

Each candidate was allowed a two-minute time period to tell the audience why he or she was seeking office. Among those speaking were former Miss Chatt/Miss America Mallory Hagan, who is seeking the Third Congressional District seat presently held by Mike Rogers; two candidates for the District 37 seat in the Alabama House, incumbent Republican Bob Fincher and Democratic challenger Charlotte Clark-Frieson; Darrell Turner 9f Heflin, Democratic candidate for the District 13 seat in the Alabama Senate; three candidates for the office of Chambers County probate judge: Democrat incumbent Brandy Easlick and Republican challengers Paul Story and Cary Baldwin; two candidates for the District 3 seat on the Chambers County Commission, Democrat incumbent Joe Blanks and Republican challenger James “Moto” Williams, and two candidates for coroner, Democrat incumbent Jeff Jones and Democrat challenger Mike Cox.

Also talking about their candidacy were Brian McGee, a Lee County resident who is seeking the House District 38 seat; incumbent Sheriff Sid Lockhart; David Eastridge, the incumbent county commissioner in District 5; Adam Jointner, an Auburn University history professor who is seeking a seat on the State Board of Education; Fredonia Mayor George Fannings, who is seeking a state position with the Alabama Democratic Party, and Bo Colley, who is seeking the District 6 seat on the Chambers County Commission.

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“Republicans aren’t listening to us.’ They aren’t even listening to each other.” Hagan said. “We need a Representative who is willing to listen and to work together for Alabama.”

Hagan said she wanted every Alabamian to be able to access affordable, quality health care, to have good-paying jobs in the district, to make our schools the best they can be and “to fight for women to have equal pay for equal work and to stop attempts to roll back health care.”

The incumbent probate judge, Brandy Easlick, said she felt uniquely qualified for the job because she had practiced law 14 years before becoming probate judge and also had a background in accounting. “We have implemented some improvements in the office in the five years I’ve been on the job,” she said, “and we have some other ideas we want to try. I think our tag office is more efficient. Wait times have been cut from two-and-a-half hours in some cases to no more than 10 or 15 minutes.”

Cary Baldwin, the former probate judge, pledged to treat everyone with respect should he win the race. “If people come to the office with questions, those questions need to be answered,” he said. “If the office received phone calls or emails they need to be answered. For some people who come to the office, it may be the first time they have ever been there. People in the office must be able to help them in any way they can.”

Paul Story, another candidate for the office, said that he’d been around public service all his life and had learned much from his dad, former Circuit Clerk Charles Story. “I believe in providing the best service we can to our citizens,” he said. “I will the an open-door policy. If you have a problem you can come and talk to me about it. I want to foster a family-oriented environment in the probate judge’s office.”

Incumbent State Rep. Bob Fincher said that it had been an honor for him to serve the people of District 37. “I haven’t missed one day of the legislature when it’s in regular session or in special session,” he said. “I listen to what everyone tells me and I vote the way I feel the majority of people in District 37 want me to.”

His Democrat opponent, Charlotte Clark-Frieson, said that she favored equal pay for women, affordable health care and “to fix the 70 poorly performing schools in Alabama.”

Incumbent Coroner Jeff Jones said that his long-time experience as a funeral home director had given him the skills needed to discuss tragedies with families in a sensitive and professional way. Jones is seeking his fourth ter.

Challenger Mike Cox said that he loved public service and that his long career as an investigator with the Valley Police Department had given him the skills needed should a death investigation be needed.

District 3 Commissioner Joe Blanks said that he’d thoroughly enjoyed his nearly eight years as a commissioner and had enjoyed working with the other commissioners. He said that his top priority was to bring public water to the rural areas of Chambers County. “We need to continue this,” he said. “We need to get water to Abanda and to west-central Chambers County.”

His Republican challenger, James “Moto” Williams, said that Chambers County will be facing financial pressures in the coming years, with issues like jail renovation to be dealt with. “I want everyone to know that I don’t believe in new taxes,” he said.

A couple of the candidates, State Senate candidate Darrell Turner and District 38 candidate Brian McGee, spoke in favor of the Affordable Care Act and that it would be good for the state if the politicians would get out of the way of blocking it. Turner said that he’d been a Democrat since 1968 and would never change parties. “I’m not a switcher or a changer,” he said.

“I know what our store fronts look like and that our roads are in bad shape,” he said. “It’s a shame that our kids have to go out of state to find a good-paying job.”