Races not drawing attention

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Interest in local races on the 2014 ballot is slim, local party chairs said Tuesday.

According to the Alabama Secretary of State, there are dozens of offices up for election in 2014 including the office of governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, attorney general, agriculture commissioner, secretary of state, state senate (all 35 Districts) and state representatives (all 105 Districts), among several other offices. County seats on the 2014 ballot include sheriff, coroner, revenue commissioner and county school board place No. 5 – and it’s those races that local chairs hope draw a large number of candidates.

While qualifying for the local seats officially begins on Feb. 4, three candidates have already announced their intent to run – State Rep. Mike Jones (incumbent) and for county school board Place No. 5, the incumbent James “Jimmy” Prestwood and former system superintendent Terry Holley. Qualifying will run through April 4.

William “Bill” Blocker, local Republican Party chair, said the candidate pool “is actually dry so far.”

“I think that it’s still early, so most people aren’t thinking about the election,” Blocker said. “If they’re serious about running, they’ve made their decision, but haven’t announced.

“On the other hand, many candidates won’t make up their mind until in the middle of the filing period – March, I would say,” he said.

Billy Hughes, local Democratic Party chair, said he’s seen zero interest by those interested in running on his party’s ticket.

“I haven’t had any so far,” Hughes said. “It’s disappointing in a way. What I figure, is that we have got to get back to a grassroots effort. We have got to get out there and start all over. Get some good candidates and go from there.”

Both chairs agreed the local race to watch will be for the County Revenue Commissioner’s seat. Incumbent Janice Hart said Tuesday she will not seek re-election – making the seat the only vacant one on the ballot.

And according to local party chairs, that’s going to be the race to watch.

“No one has expressed an interest – to me – in that seat,” Blocker sasid. “I’ve not heard any rumor about anyone wanting it either. I’m interested in seeing how that one plays out.”

But no matter the seat, both chairs hope to see a large number of candidates.

“I like to see it when people run,” Blocker said. “My advice to people, if you’re interested, throw your hat in the ring. You never know what will happen.”

Hughes said, “On a local level, this election is a prime opportunity for a candidate to run as a Democrat. When it comes to local races, most people are going to vote for the individual.

“But, after the holidays, I’m going to get out there and see who I can find to run,” he said.