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Political season kicks off with Spruce Pine event


The local campaign season formally began Saturday with the first political supper of 2018, held at the Spruce Pine Community Center.

Candidate turnout was tremendous, with all but three candidates who will appear on the June 5th primary ballots and/or the November 6th general election ballot in attendance.

Guests enjoyed a homemade ham and turkey dinner, and heard from the candidates seeking elected office this year.

First to speak was Jim Bonner, a Bear Creek resident seeking the Republican nomination for the Alabama Public Service Commission, Place One. Bonner will face incumbent Jeremy Oden in the June 5th primary.

Both candidates seeking to replace Rep. Ken Johnson in House District Seven attended Saturday evening's supper. Ken Brackens, the Democratic nominee and Proncey Robertson, the Republican nominee, both have no opposition in the June primary and will square off in November.

There are three men seeking to follow Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow in representing the people of House District 18. Jamie Kiel and Tony Riley will face each other in the June 5th Republican primary. Eddie Britton is unopposed in the Democratic primary for Morrow's seat.

I'll make sure our schools in Franklin and Colbert and Lauderdale County are as good as they can be,” Kiel told the crowd. “That's a priority of mine. With your support we'll keep someone from Franklin County in this seat as it has been for years.”

Riley, who has worked the last 11 years as human resources manager at Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc., touted his business experience.

It's been the best experience of my life,” Riley said of working for Tiffin. “I've learned so much about business. Jobs are a big deal to me and I know what it's like to be part of a business that's being recruited,” Riley said.

Britton, who serves as the chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Executive Committee, is a retired educator with 38 years' experience in public education.

Sen. Larry Stutts is seeking a second term representing the people of Senate District Six. Stutts will face three opponents on June 5th, although only one of them, Steve Lolley, attended Saturday's supper.

Lolley retired recently after 25 years in the banking industry. He is a resident of Guin.

Stutts spoke about his conservative values and told the crowd how Alabama continues to show economic improvement.

I'm proud to stand on my conservative values and principles. We're seeing a record low in unemployment in our state,” Stutts said. “Both budgets are in better shape than they've been in yeas because unemployment is low and tax revenue is up.”

Stutts said this year's education appropriation was the largest in the last decade.

We've seen seven straight budget years without proration. We're headed in the right direction financially in this state and I want to continue to be a part of that,” he added.

Morrow is unopposed in the Democratic primary for Senate District Six. He talked about meeting the needs of Franklin County residents during his tenure in the House.

When we needed a four-lane highway, I went to work. Now we have it. Through my career, I've attacked those problems we needed solutions to,” Morrow said.

Morrow foreshadowed what's sure to be a key component of his campaign when he criticized Stutts' support of the Alabama Accountability Act.

We've got to preserve our public schools and anyone in the legislature who votes to pull money out of our public schools into private schools doesn't need to be there in Montgomery because they don't represent the people of this state,” Morrow said.

Political newcomer Charles Adcox will be the Republican nominee for Franklin County coroner. Adcox told the crowd his experience working in emergency medical services and as a reserve law enforcement officer, a member of Tharptown Volunteer Fire Department and a juvenile detention officer in Tuscumbia qualify him to serve as coroner.

Incumbent Elzie Malone, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary, did not attend Saturday's event.

Although there is no Democratic candidate for probate judge, there is a contested race in the Republican primary, as incumbent Barry Moore faces Joe Mansell.

Moore told the crowd about some of the county commission's accomplishments during his tenure, including securing more than $12 million in funds for roads and bridges through the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP). He stressed the importance of working together with other agencies on projects.

We can accomplish so much by working together. That teamwork has led to several industrial access grants received and we've recently applied for another one in the Mike Green Industrial Park,” Moore said.

Mansell, a career firefighter and chief of the Russellville Fire Department, talked about his passion for Franklin County.

I've always enjoyed helping my community and I want to make Franklin County as great as we possibly can. I want our fire departments to be the backbone of our county,” Mansell said.

Ralton Baker, who will serve another term representing the Franklin County Board of Education District One, attended the Spruce Pine event, as did Franklin County Superintendent of Education Greg Hamilton, who was elected in 2016. Hamilton was the lone elected official in attendance who will not be on the ballot in 2018.

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