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Citizens urged to go vote March 1

It will be an important day in Franklin County March 1 – a day when local citizens get the first shot at choosing their leaders for new terms of office.

The primary election will, of course, provide the chance to cast a ballot for presidential candidates. Also of interest, however, is a number of local races. On the county commission, Democrats Wyman Pounders (incumbent) and Terry Bolton will face off for District 2. District 4 will have primary races for both political parties: Don Hastings (incumbent), Norris Lewey and Anthony Bentley are all angling for the Democratic nomination, while Wade Inmon and William David Hester will vie for the Republican nomination.

Republican Party Chairman Jerry Mays said this will be the first time for a Republican primary race for a county commission seat.

“We have two good candidates running for the same office,” Mays said. The increased Republican interest shows, Mays said, “the people in Franklin County’s views are more in line with the Republican Party than the Democratic Party of the past.”

Also facing off in the primary will be Donald Borden and Johnny Cleveland, who seek the Democratic nomination for Franklin County superintendent, and Shannon Oliver and Eddie Britton, who seek the Democratic nomination for District 4 on the Franklin County Board of Education.

“I would just like to encourage everyone to come out and vote,” said Democratic Party Chairman Bryan Hamilton. “You need to exercise your right to vote, and I’m optimistic that we’ll have a very large turnout, given the fact that we have contested presidential primaries in both parties.” Hamilton said from his party’s perspective, there’s “a very good slate of qualified candidates,” locally for the Democratic Party. “(We) expect to do very well in the general election in November.”

A voters list was published in the Feb. 3 edition of the Franklin County Times, and a supplemental list is included in this edition. Citizens may also confirm their assigned polling place by calling the Board of Registrars.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 1, and Probate Judge Barry Moore reminded people that they will have to declare a party when they go to vote.

In addition to voting for candidates, which will all be listed on the front of the ballot, people are encouraged to take note of the reverse side of the ballot, which includes the vote for a statewide amendment and a local referendum. The local referendum is to renew the 1 cent sales tax for Franklin County, which has been renewed every two years since 2010; 75 percent of this tax goes to the school systems, and 25 percent goes to the county for matching funds for ATRIP projects to maintain and repair roads and bridges.

“That benefits the citizens of the county and the school system, as well as the county commission for matching ATRIP funds for roads,” Moore said.

Local superintendents are also in favor of renewing the tax. Superintendent Gary Williams said it amounts to roughly $1 million per year for the Franklin County School system.

“It’s very important to us that it pass,” Williams said. “Our financial status has improved over the past few years, largely due to the tax.” The school system also, Williams said, benefits from the funds that are used as ATRIP matches, in terms of having better roads and bridges for school buses to traverse.

The local referendum will be worded thusly, and voters are urged to vote YES:

“Relating to Franklin County, to authorize the Franklin County Commission to allocate one-fourth of the proceeds from the existing one cent sales tax for public schools in Franklin County for the purpose of matching funds for the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program in Franklin County, provided the allocation shall be for a term of two years and may be extended for two-year terms only if approved by a majority of voters in Franklin County in subsequent elections. (Pursuant to Amendment 881).”

At the polls Tuesday, voters will need to have an acceptable form of ID, such as a valid driver’s license, valid state non-drivers ID, free Alabama photo voter ID, valid state-issued ID, valid federal-issued ID or a U.S. passport.

“I encourage everybody to get out and vote,” Moore said. “It’s a right we have here in America, to vote for the candidates we want. It’s one of the rights we should take advantage of. There are a lot of countries that don’t have this right, and a lot of men and women have sacrificed a lot in the past for us to have this right to vote.”

Mays echoed Hamilton’s expectation of a good turnout. “We hope to have one of the best turnouts we’ve ever had in Franklin County.”

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