Candidates close out campaigns

Following several months of campaigning and door knocking, county residents will finally go to the polls Tuesday to vote in the party primary elections.

This ballot contains several interesting races, including the governor’s race, a contentious state House of Representatives race, two important amendments, a race that will help decide the county’s first new sheriff in almost three decades and even a wet/dry referendum for some voters.

The race for the House of Representatives District 18 seat between longtime incumbent Johnny Mack Morrow and Russellville City Councilman Jeff Masterson has become fierce in recent weeks with both candidates accusing the other of ethics violations. There are no Republican candidates seeking the seat, so the winner of Tuesday’s primary will represent Franklin and western Colbert counties for the next four years.

The other office garnering the most attention is the sheriff’s race. Franklin County Sheriff Larry Plott is retiring at the end of the year after 28 years in office.

The race to fill that seat has attracted seven candidates.

The only two local Republican candidates are in the sheriff’s race, which features Leighton Police Chief Ray Hayse and one-time sheriff Glen Demastus.

Five Democrats are looking to fill the seat. They are former Russellville Assistant Police Chief Robert Pace, Phil Campbell Police Sgt. Terrell Potter, Red Bay Police Investigator Mike Franklin, Russellville Police Capt. Shannon Oliver and Russellville businessman Scott Seal.

The coroner’s race pits former Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director John James and current coroner Elzie Malone, who operates Pleasant Bay Ambulance Service in the county.

Current county school board member Billy Weeks faces Terry Welborn in the race for the District 2 school board seat.

Both party’s ballots include two important amendment issues facing county residents as well.

Local Amendment One involves the use of biosolids, or human waste, as fertilizer on county soil. Some worry that the wording on that amendment could confuse some voters.

The proposed amendment reads as follows:

“Relating to Franklin County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that treated human sewage biosolids may not be applied to land as a fertilizer or soil amendment.”

Voters will simply mark yes or no on the ballot.

A “yes” vote means that you do not want biosolids to be used on county soil. A “no” vote means that you do want biosolids to be allowed.

The other countywide amendment centers on a one-cent sales tax to generate funds for the county and city school systems. A one-cent increase was levied in January, but voters will decide Tuesday whether to keep the tax in effect for two years or to repeal it.

Finally, Phil Campbell voters will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not they want to allow alcohol sales in the city.

A new state law allows towns with populations over 1,000 to hold alcohol sales referendums if a petition is turned in to city officials that meets certain criteria.

A group of Phil Campbell residents had a petition certified, which meant city officials could not keep it off the ballot. Since the vote will be held the same day as the primary and the issue cannot be placed on the general ballot, separate polling areas will be used.

However, both the general election and the wet/dry vote will be held at the Phil Campbell Community Center.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 1.