County commissioner switches to the GOP
Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 12, 2006
Butler County Commissioner Glenn King switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican during Monday's regularly scheduled commission meeting.
“I have come to realize that my personal philosophy and beliefs fall in line with the Republican Party and I must stand up for what I believe in,” King said.
King (Dist. 5) joins Commissioner Jerry Hartin (Dist. 1) as the second Republican currently serving on the Butler County Commission. Hartin won his seat as a Republican candidate in 2004.
“We are proud to add another county official to our ranks,” said retired Georgiana businessman Judson Garner, who serves on the Executive Committee of the Butler County Republican Party. “Throughout Alabama, and nationwide, more and more people are switching to the Republican Party. I guess the ideas of lower taxes, less government and more personal responsibility have a universal appeal.”
Commissioner Frank Hickman, one of the three Democrats serving with the county's governing body, said King's decision was a courageous one.
“I can also assure the public that Commissioner King's decision will not affect the working relationship of this commission,” he said.
Chairman Jesse McWilliams echoed Hickman's sentiments.
“Regardless of what party Commissioner King is affiliated with I know that from a working standpoint we will continue to do what is best for the people of Butler County,” said McWilliams.
In other business:
The commission formally rejected all bids received on the new county jail project. Initial bids on the project totaled nearly $6 million - almost $2 million more than originally budgeted for the project.
“It's with some sadness that we have to reject these bids,” said Hartin. “But our job is to look after the county's money and these bids are just too extremely high.”
The county broke ground on the new jail in June and the property has been cleared, awaiting construction.
“We're powerless to accept any bid close to $6 million when we don't have the money to finance it,” said Hickman.
Lack of competition among bidders and a significant increase in material prices have driven up costs, according to on-site construction managers for the project. The county has budgeted between $3.1 million and $4 million for the county jail, which includes $2.78 million in bonded funds.
The commission approved a temporary pay increase for Chief Deputy Kenneth Hadley. During Thursday night's workshop meeting, Butler County District Attorney John Andrews asked the county commission to amend its 2007 fiscal year budget to include an increase in pay for Hadley from $10.50 per hour to $15 per hour.
Hadley told Sheriff Diane Harris and Andrews last week he would be leaving for a job with the Greenville Police Department immediately, rather than waiting for a new administration to come into office in January 2007. Democrat Kenny Harden faces Republican candidate Clint Reaves in November's General Election.
Commissioners King, Hartin and Hickman voted for the pay raise, which will be in effect until January when Hadley leaves. Commissioner Daniel Robinson voted no and McWilliams abstained.
“I voted for the pay raise, but I did so under duress,” said Hickman. “The proper way is for this to be done is in a budget hearing prior to our budget being approved.”
Hickman said he voted yes because of Andrews' assertion that retaining Hadley was an absolute necessity. Andrews said the sheriff's office is short-staffed as it is, with only Hadley, Harris and one other qualified deputy to serve the citizens in rural Butler County, and that cases involving Hadley as investigator would “go to hell in a hand basket” were he to leave.