PHOTO BY MARÍA CAMP - Blue Springs Volunteer Fire Department in Phil Campbell holds a candidate bean lunch ahead of the March 5 election.
PHOTO BY MARÍA CAMP - Blue Springs Volunteer Fire Department in Phil Campbell holds a candidate bean lunch ahead of the March 5 election.

Blue Springs VFD holds candidate bean lunch ahead of March 5 election

Blue Springs Volunteer Fire Department in Phil Campbell held a candidate bean lunch Saturday. The event kicked off with the meal, followed by a cake auction to raise funds for the fire department and then candidates had the opportunity to speak for up to five minutes each.

The primaries take place March 5.

The Vina Fire Department will host a candidate supper March 2 at the Vina Community Center. A chili supper will be served at 5 p.m. Cost is $10 a plate, which includes dessert and a drink. Candidates start speaking at 6 p.m. There will be a cake auction after the candidates speak. For more information, call 256-356-4996.


Also up for a vote March fifth is a proposed statewide amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 2022 to amend Section 71.01 authorizing the Legislature to sign and transmit local laws or constitutional amendments before the transmission of basic appropriations (Proposed by Act 2023-562). In its Feb. 20 meeting, the Franklin County Commission passed a resolution encouraging the citizens of the county to vote “yes” to Amendment One.

Rep. Jamie Kiel (not up for reelection) spoke briefly, noting his appreciation for the community and the work of the fire department. “I thank all of you for coming and raising money for these good folks,” he said. “They provide a vital service to the community. They do a great job.


Of those running who were present for the speaking portion, Charles Mitchell, the only Democrat there, spoke first. He is running unopposed as a Democrat for the seat of Commissioner for District One on the Franklin County Commission. Chris Wallace currently holds this position.

Because Mitchell is the only Democrat running for the position, his name is not on the sample ballots for the March 5 primary. He will face the Republican contender in the November election later this year. He shared two points, that “you do not have to vote a straight ticket, Republican or Democrat” and that “the main thing is you get out and vote regardless of who it’s for.”

On the Democratic ballot March 5, voters can select, for Democratic party President of the United States from Joseph R. Biden, Jr.; Dean Phillips; or Uncommitted. They can also vote for up to two delegates for Joseph R. Biden for the 2024 Democratic National Convention for the Fourth Congressional District. The names on the list are Susan McKenney and Curtis Travis.

Justin Holcomb spoke about his candidacy for United States Representative in the Fourth Congressional District. He said, in part, “We need change…Russellville is not in good shape. The district’s not in good shapeI’m here to bring change…My main focus is to bring jobs and as much money as I can back home.” Holcomb said his plan is to do two terms, a total of four years.

Incumbent Robert B. Aderholt is running against Holcomb for United States Representative for the Fourth Congressional District. He said, in part, “I’m from Haleyville, down in Winston County, that’s where I grew up. I’m honored to serve as Congressman for the Fourth Congressional District, and it is a real honor for me to be here today.

Aderholt said he’s a longtime supporter of a program in Washington, D.C., that gives grants to volunteer fire departments, a program funded by Congress. I’ve always been a great supporter of that program and will continue to do everything I can to support volunteer fire departments…We do have a lot of issues in this country. We have a lot of problems, but I think that we will work through these things.”

Aderholt said one thing he wants to do is to work to “close the borders” and “send back those that are here illegally,” adding he is endorsed by Donald Trump and that he, in turn, endorses Trump for another term as President of the United States of America.

“We live in the greatest country in the world. We want to make sure that we keep our country the greatest country in the world,” he continued. It’s that beacon of hope that is a light on the hill for the rest of the world.”


Ralton Baker spoke about his unopposed candidacy (he will therefore not be on the ballot until November) for another term representing District One as a board member on the Franklin County Schools Board of Education. Baker said he’s served on the board since 1990, noting he hasn’t had an opponent for the last three elections. “I want to thank every one of you for the support I’ve had,” he said, adding his appreciation for the volunteer fire departments, as well as his encouragement for everyone to vote in the March 5 primary.


Mitch McKinney spoke about his run for District Court Judge for Franklin County, saying, in part, that he was born in Columbus, Georgia, and he and his wife, Russellville native Julie Herring McKinney, moved to Russellville from Atlanta five years ago, noting he runs a law office in downtown Russellville. McKinney was recently selected to be the city attorney for Red Bay. He said he’s been practicing law for 26 years, is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has been “doing a lot of work in District Court under Judge McDowell.”

He noted she is retiring after 24 years on the job. “We’re going to miss her because she’s been a good judge,” adding “I’ve enjoyed practicing under her. I’ve been doing ad litem work for over a decade, representing kids when they need representation the most.” He went on to talk about the scope of what District Court covers, including juvenile work, such as removing children from unsafe environments.

Jamie Sumerel is running against Mitch McKinney for District Judge. He said, in part, “I grew up right here in Franklin County and went to Russellville High School and graduated in 1999. From there, I went to the University of Alabama, graduated with a business degree and then went on to law school.” Sumerel said upon graduating from law school in 2008, he “immediately moved back to Franklin County,” adding he’s remained working in Franklin County since that time.

“I have been in the District Court of Franklin County every year for the last 16 years,” he continued. “When Judge McDowell has a juvenile that gets into trouble, I’m the attorney that she calls. I have now represented over a thousand juveniles in my years of practice. On the flip sideof what the juvenile court does is the criminal side of it.” Sumerel said he’s also handled “over 1200 district criminal cases,” adding he works at Bedford, Rogers, Bowling and McReynolds, where he’s been since he started. “We represent the Department of Human Resources,” he continued. “From my perspective, I know the expectations of Franklin County residents.”


Jason Miller, who is a current commissioner for District 2 on the Franklin County Commission, is running against incumbent Barry Moore for Probate Judge of Franklin County, attended an earlier part of the event, but left before the speaking portion. He previously provided a political announcement in the Franklin County Times, and that is available on the Franklin County Times website.

Probate Judge Barry Moore also previously provided a political announcement about his candidacy, and that is on the Franklin County Times website. On Saturday, he said, in part, “I’ve been the probate judge for 17 years. I’ve lived here in Franklin County all my life, went to school at Russellville High School, graduated in 1984 and attended Northwest Junior College for two years, then going to UNA, where I got a degree in business management.” Moore said he served 23 years in the Alabama National Guard, including one year in Iraq, adding he’s a member of the local VFW post in Russellville.

Moore added that he is on the board of directors at NACOLG and RC & D, agencies he explained “get grants for Franklin County. – We try to help get grants in here to make Franklin County a better place to live and work.” Moore said while people hear a lot about the issues on the commission side that the position also includes the work in the probate office, where the work includes handling driver’s, business, hunting and fishing licenses, boat stickers, probating of wills and handling of adoptions and mental commitment.

Moore said it also involves being in charge of getting everything set up with the election, a component he said he’s “sort of stepping aside with” since he’s on the ballot this time. “You have laws on the side of the commissionoffice that you have to by, and you have laws on the side of the commission office you have to go by,” he added. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve the citizens of Franklin County for the past 17 years.


Curtis Baker spoke about his candidacy as commissioner for District One on the Franklin County Commission. “I’m a lifelong resident of Franklin County,” Baker said, in part, adding he and his wife, Tiffany, have three children. I’ve worked at R Baker, Inc. for, it’ll be 24 years this June. My wife works at Phil Campbell Elementary School in the special education department, and we believe in Franklin County. It’s got to be a place where your kids don’t want to leave from or you’ll never get to see your grand kids,” he said. That’s a goal for me. I don’t make empty promises. I’ll always tell you the truth. You can bet on that. If you call me, I’ll answer.”

Michael Eady is also running for District One Franklin County Commissioner. He was not present at the event.

Michael Murray, another contender for District One Franklin County Commissioner, said, in part, that he’s been a lifelong resident of Franklin County and has been married to his wife for 31 years, with whom he has two children, both in college. “The experience I bring is 31 years in automotive repair. 25 years as owner of a business and 16 years working with the Franklin County Board of Education as a bus mechanic. I’ve seen most of the roads due to the bus routings, and I’ll be willing to work and try to secure fundings to get better roads for Franklin County as a whole.”

Kirk Sparks, the other candidate for District One commissioner for the Franklin County Commission, said, in part, that he’s lived “back and forth” between Franklin and Lawrence counties his whole life. my grandpa, Billy Sparks, lived in Tharptown his whole life, and he’s the one that’s inspired me to run, and he really encouraged me to step up and try to help better our community.”


Doug Aaron, candidate for commissioner representing District Two on the Franklin County Commission (who also has a political announcement on the Franklin County website), said, in part, “I haven’t lived in Franklin County all my life, but probably 80% of my life. I’ve lived in Franklin County, graduated at Phil Campbell High School in ’75, went off and became a pipefitter…and helped build North Alabama through plumbing, piping, nuclear plants, aluminum plants, schools and hospitals.”

“At some point in my life, I realized that people need to give back to their county,” he continued, “so I got on some water boards and started getting involved with water boards and finally got an opportunity to become the manager of Franklin County Water and stayed with that20 years. Aaron said he got to know Robert Aderholt, adding they built a water treatment plant “that’s 50 years ahead of itself in water quality,” noting “people should be really proud of it.”

Aaron said he’s married with three children and four grandchildren. “I worked all over the country. I wasn’t able to be involved in a lot of the day-to-day stuff in the years passed, but I’m retired and I’d like to dedicate four years to doing that.

Heath Ayers is also running for District Two commissioner on the Franklin County Commission.I’m from Colbert County originally,” Ayers said, in part. My grandparents, my mother was raised here in Franklin County. My wife’s from Franklin County. My parents were the late James and Martha Ayers. My father-in-Law is Charles Sweeney. My mother-in-Law is the late Elise Sweeney. I married Amy Sweeney. We have two kids.

Ayers said he works at “Reynolds, Wise, whatever you want to call it,” adding he’s been there for 32 years, having served 16 of those years as vice president of the local there, adding he knows the importance of bring jobs to the county. “We represent 718 people plus their families over there,” he added, “so I know how it is to deal with folks, deal with contracts, try to help raise money for the county and keep families here.

Greg Hovater is the other candidate for District Two Commissioner for the Franklin County Commission. He said, in part, “I lived in Franklin County all my life. I’ve been married to my wife, Kathy, for, this year will be 35 years. We’ve got three kids that live in Franklin County, four grandkids. I’m a contractor. I’ve had my own business for over 25 years…All I can promise anybody is I’ll do the right thing, and you won’t ever have to worry about whether something dishonest is going on or not, something not being right, because if I’ve got anything to do with it, it’ll be right.”


Tracie Clark, of Red Bay, is running for the District Four commissioner position on the Franklin County Commission. She said, in part, “I’m married to Jeff Clark, and he works at Tiffin Motorhomes in Red Bay. I have spent my last 34 years serving the city of Red Bay in different aspects. I’ve been the revenue officer, who’s in charge of collecting all the taxes for our city. I’veworked with the park and rec, the fire departments, sewer, garbage, street department.” Clark said she’s worked with ADEM on a variety of projects. “I believe my qualifications would be good for Franklin County, and I love Franklin County,” she added. “I think it’s one of the most beautiful places on God’s green Earth, and I hope that we can preserve it and do what’s right for it to be the best place in Alabama to live.

Wm David “Opie” Hester currently holds the District Four commissioner position on the Franklin County Commision, and he is seeking reelection. He has a political announcement on the Franklin County Times web site. At Saturday’s event, he said, in part, “I’ve lived in Franklin County all my life. I have been married to an awesome woman sitting here with me today for 45 years.”

“We have two children, an awesome daughter-in-law, an awesome granddaughter-in-law, three grandsons, and I’m soon to be a great-grandfather. I worked at Tiffin Motorhomes for 34 years. I’ve worked in the service department for 33 years, dealing with people’s problems, coming in with motorhomes, listening to their complaints. I’m a commisionernow. I’ve been a commissioner since 2016. I work with a pretty good group of guys and ladies that work for the county. I think we’re a pretty good team. We’ve accomplished a lot of things.

Hester said one of the things he’s “really proud of” is getting broadband into Franklin County. “It has saved a lot of people money on their TVs, their Internet, their phones. So, it was a big dealfor Franklin County, and I think that’s going be part of the history of Franklin County taking off for more growth.”


Candidates for Republican party for President of the United States: Ryan L. Binkley, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, David Stuckenberg, Donald J. Trumpor a selection of Uncommitted can be made.

Candidates for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: Sarah Stewart and Bryan Taylor.

Candidates for Court of Civil Appeals Judge, Place 2: Chad Hanson and Stephen Davis Parker.

Candidates for Court of Criminal Appeals Judge, Place 2: Rich Anderson and Thomas Govan.

Candidates for president of the Public Service Commission: Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh and Robert L. McCollum

Candidates for member of the State Board of Education for District 7: Doug Bachuss, Allen Long and Oscar S. Mann.



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