Previewing the ballot ahead of Tuesday elections

Published 11:00 am Saturday, May 21, 2022

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On Tuesday, the polls in Chambers County will open once again, this time to decide who will run in the November election. In some cases, Tuesday’s primary will be the final run for the candidates who have no opposition from Democrat or Independent candidates. There are many local seats up for election. However, there is no opposition in either the primary or general election.

Local Races

Running for sheriff as Republicans are Richard Carter and Jeff Nelson. Jeff Blackstone has qualified for the office as a Democrat.

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Veteran sheriff Sid Lockhart is not seeking re-election this year after 28 years as the county’s chief law enforcement officer. His predecessor, the late James C. Morgan, had held the office since first being elected in 1966. It’s extremely rare for one county to have had only two sheriffs for 56 years.

Carter has been the sheriff’s office’s chief deputy for many years. Nelson has been an Alabama State Trooper for many years and is highly regarded in law enforcement circles. Blackstone has also been involved in local law enforcement.

At the forefront of this race has been how to solve the salary and staffing issues that plague the CCSO.

During the May 24 candidate forum, all three candidates discussed how they planned to solve the department’s current dilemma.

Nelson talked about many of the deputies having to take side jobs to earn extra money.

“Well, most of our deputies in this county have a side job,” Nelson said. “They’re working their job as a sheriff’s deputy in this county, and they’re also working a side job. Pay is very important to keep these guys in this office and working for this office. We’re going to have to pay them what they’re worth.”

Nelson alluded to a salary study performed by Evergreen solutions in 2021 that resulted in salary adjustments for all county employees, including the sheriff’s department, saying it was a start, but more must be done.

“Recently, the county has done a pay study and was able to get these guys somewhat of a raise, but not what these guys deserve,” he said.

Blackstone echoed Nelson’s sentiments and called on his salary during his early days as a deputy in 1994 to say he would be in front of the commission every chance he had fighting for increases in compensation of 5 to 10%.

“As far as the deputies [salary], I will be at the commission’s office, with meetings every time trying to get these deputies a raise,” Blackstone said. “I’m not only asking for 5%; I’m going to ask for 10%. These deputies, they can’t pay their bills. They have to work two or three side jobs. I know. I have done it. I was a deputy.”

While Carter agreed, he also acknowledged that it will be difficult, if not impossible, ever to pay deputies what they are worth, but he will not stop fighting.

“One of the things that we’ve always been faced with, I know in my 32 years, is pay,” Carter said. “There’s always going to be an issue. We will never be able to pay the deputies what they’re worth. And that’s unfortunate. Just like the military, you’ll never be able to have them paid what they’re worth. But we’re going to do everything we can do to get them as much as we can, while we can.”

In other races specific to Chambers County, 5th Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jeremy Duerr faces off against Mike Segrest.

Alex Balckum challenges incumbent Tracie West for State Board of Education member for district two.

Place number two Public Service Commission finds incumbent Chip Beeker up against Robin Litaker and Robert L. McCollum. Place number one incumbent Jeremy Oden will face off against three opponents; John Hammock, Stephen McLamb and Brent Woodall.

State Races

Both primaries for Alabama governer may result in a runoff with eight Republican candidates challenging Kay Ivey for the right to get on the November ballot against one of six Democratic candidates.

Attorney General Steve Marshall is also facing opposition from Harry Bartlett Still III on the Republican ticket. The winner will square off against Democrat Wendell Major in November.

One of, if not the most contested races in this year’s election is the seat in the United States Senate that outgoing Sen. Richard Shelby will vacate.

The Republican ballot finds six candidates looking for a spot on the November ballot. The Democratic ticket has three vying for the chance to be added to the general election ballot.

In another federal race, incumbent U.S. Rep Mike Rogers faces off against Michael T. Joiner for a spot against Democrat Lin Veasey in November’s general election.

State Senator Randy Price is completing his first term in the Alabama Senate this year. He will face a primary challenge from the Rev. John Allen Coker. Coker lives in the Cusseta area and is the pastor of the Northside Baptist Church in Opelika.

State Rep. Debbie Wood, who represents District 38, will face a challenge from Micah Messer of Smiths Station. Four years ago, she had to win races in both the party primary and the general election to represent District 38 in the Alabama House.