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District 4 candidates discuss issues

Editor’s note: This is the fifth story in a series of stories from Monday night’s forum.

The Republican Party of Covington County held a candidate forum Monday night at city hall, giving several candidates the opportunity to speak to citizens on why they are running.

The third article in the series ran in Friday’s paper with comments from commissioner Joe Barton, Michael Barton and Michael Smith running for District 2 of the Covington County Commission.

After they spoke, Brett Holmes spoke on behalf of his father, commissioner Tony Holmes who was not able to make it. After he spoke, candidates running for District 4 of the Covington County Commission were given the opportunity to speak.

Donald Clarke:

Clarke is a lifelong citizen of Covington County.

“We should all be public servants,” Clarke said. “When we are in this type of position. That is why I consider myself to be a public servant. It truly humbles a person to know that you work with people.”

Clarke said he is seeking this position because he has talked with people from all over the county and he is concerned and interested.

“I’m not saying that everybody doesn’t do a great job, because they do,” Clarke said. “I would like the opportunity to see what I can do for Covington County. I have some ideas and plans that I think will help Covington County. I’ve been here for all of my life and I’ve seen the things that go on here and I’m willing to take on the challenge and do what I can for Covington County as a public servant. First of all, god is my boss. I do whatever he says first. I am a Christian and although being a Christian doesn’t mean a whole lot to some people, but to me it’s my heart and my soul, because I serve him first. I just want the opportunity to do a good job with honesty and integrity and listen to the people out there.”

The next person to speak was Tommy McGaha also running for District 4.

Tommy McGaha:

McGaha is a resident of Buck Creek Community and a 1982 graduate of
Straughn High School. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years. He began in electrical distribution in 1993 with Mack Electric Supply Co., in Andalusia. He has been employed with Triple H Speciality of Alabama since 2009. He is married to Vicki Taylor McGaha of Red Level, they have five children, Ashley 32, Alexis 29, Allison 26, Matthew 24, Micah 22 and one grandson, Carter, who is 6 months old. He serves a deacon and active member of Buck Creek Baptist Church, coached youth baseball for nine years, youth football for two years, youth basketball for two years. He was a member of Lions Club International from 1995-1998 and is a lifetime member of the NRA.

“The reason that I am running for commissioner is because I believe that everyday, hardworking people, like you and I, deserve a voice in the political process and that their interests should not be pushed aside,” McGaha said. “My vision for Covington County is where people keep their hard earned money and businesses thrive to fuel our local economy. Our taxes should play a limited role in the lives of our people. Excessive government spending will only benefit those in charge and cripple our taxpayers. I will strive to be honest and transparent about everything we do at the County commission level. We will not stand for our politicians to abuse their power or make personal gain from our tax money. We work hard every single day.”

McGaha said with him, the peoples’ interests will always be put first.

“Self serving politicians have spoiled the faith the voters once held in them,” McGaha said. “I will work to change this perception that politicians can only be corrupt. I will work to restore the idea that politicians exist to serve the public and not the other way around. Ronald Reagan once said, ‘There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit,’ and I don’t care who gets the credit. I want Covington County to grow and to prosper. I will stand with you and I will fight for you. I love this county and this county is home to me. I believe this county has so much to offer our children and our families. With the right leadership, Covington County can and will keep our prosperity at the forefront of our decision making.”

There are three things that are important to McGaha; God, family and country.

“I believe that if you prioritize these things, you will be a successful citizen, or even a county commissioner,” McGaha said. “I need your help to keep this county great. When elected, I will not sit back and let our county leadership make uneducated and frivolous decisions with our tax money. Tax money is a lifeline to keep our county at its highest level. The leadership of Covington County needs to restore a close working relationship with the municipal leaders, our school board and various community leaders throughout this great county. It is also imperative that we work in conjunction with our economic development commission. A vote for me is a vote for conservative principles, personal accountability and our county government.”

Stephanie Nelson Snodgrass was the next to speak in this race.

Stephanie Nelson Snodgrass:

She is a 1995 graduate of Florala High School. She studied journalism at Troy University and spent the majority of her professional career in the newspaper business.

Snodgrass began as a reporter at The Opp News and then was the news editor at The Andalusia Star-News for more than eight years. She was later promoted to president and publisher of The Brewton Standard. In 2017, she left the trade to work in the non-profit sector as a member of the national development team for Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. (YAP), a national organization providing community and life changing programs to youth and families across the United States. She is based in Andalusia.

In addition to her professional experience, Snodgrass has held a number of civic positions to include Andalusia Chamber of Commerce director, Andalusia Lions Club member, Covington County Parent Advocacy Committee member and community liaison, as well as Brewton Kiwanis Club president and vice president, Brewton Rotary Club member and Escambia County (Ala.) Child Advocacy board member.

She also currently volunteers as the public relations chair for “Cookies with Characters” for Meredith’s Miracles and works as a freelance magazine writer for Alabama Living.

She is married to Wesley Snodgrass, the former Chief Criminal Investigator for the Covington County Sheriff’s Office and now an Alabama Deputy State Fire Marshal. The couple, who resides in Gantt, has five children – William, 20, who works at Walmart; Ora Nelson, 19, a sophomore at Troy University; Amy Elizabeth, 17, a student at Opp High School; Mia Nelson, 15, and Dianna-Grace Nelson, 14, both students at Andalusia High School.

“Being an elected official is something that I have wanted to do for years, specifically county commission,” Snodgrass said. “Throughout my years with the newspaper, and watching how the decisions are made that impact every person in this county, I came to the conclusion of one thing; we don’t do business like we used to. Serving on the county commission today is no longer about making sure that our roads are paved. It’s more about the businesses in our county. Today it’s about making those decisions that put Covington County on the map.”

Snodgrass said the commission today must focus on three things, which is what she will focus on.

“Number one, decisions to create safe and prosperous communities,” Snodgrass said. “Two, building relationships that equal well paying jobs and retail opportunities. Lastly, keeping a steady eye on spending, while finding ways to maximize revenue. I think that it is time that when you look at the faces of the county commission, they reflect the change in the way that we do business. At the end of the night, I hope to convince you that one of these faces should be mine.”

When Snodgrass said safe, she said she doesn’t mean just law enforcement and the district attorney’s office.

“I think of everything like making sure that our property appraiser’s office and our probate judge’s office have the ability buy the equipment and get the training that they need,” Snodgrass said. “During my time as a reporter, I covered everything. The stuff that gets put in the paper is only the big stuff. So, the average citizen doesn’t understand or comprehend what it takes to run the county on a daily basis.”

Snodgrass wants to create a community where there will be a wonderful opportunity for people like her kids to come back and work.