Election ends with a bang

By ED HOWELL
Posted 6/7/18

Let's clean out the election notebook ...• Normally I write a pretty in-depth column on the election the morning afterward. So much has been happened and so much is fluid that this may be …

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Election ends with a bang

Posted

Let's clean out the election notebook ...

• Normally I write a pretty in-depth column on the election the morning afterward. So much has been happened and so much is fluid that this may be hit-and-miss with follow up next week. No question that this election ended with a flourish and a bang, and we are still getting over it. 

I need to say first the Daily Mountain Eagle election night coverage on Facebook seemed to go well. I now have great respect now for Walter Cronkite for talking at length; I hope he had a glass of water off camera because I sure needed one. It was a little rough, but we are learning as we go along, and are talking about how to improve things next time. We would welcome suggestions and assistance from anyone who was watching Tuesday night. 

• As for what we covered, it was a night to remember. First we had to deal with the House District 14 results, as al.com said all the votes were in. I started the story and called Richard "Bull" Corry to get comments. As we were talking we noticed that al.com, still saying 100 percent, had changed the numbers. Corry thought he was also finding numbers that showed too few votes in North Jefferson County. A while later, we realized two TV stations were reporting the same late figures and, as al.com eventually did, called the race for Tim Wadsworth. Well, we told ourselves, there is always one crazy thing that happens during an election.

It was the second crazy thing that floored me.

I had heard people around me claim sheriff candidate Nick Smith needed 12 votes to avoid a runoff, and that was what I had. Then I called Smith and needled him about it before interviewing. That is when I found out about the additional votes being counted and the idea he only needed six votes. Circuit Clerk Susan Odom generally agreed with the scenario, even if she was unsure about the numbers. 

Of course, the next day, Probate Judge Rick Allison pointed out something I think others were not doing: Adding 35 potential provisional votes to the total, and I say potential because we don't know if they will qualify. In fact, Smith probably needs 23 votes to avoid a runoff if you used all 35 provisional votes, and that could change. 

As for not alerting people to what was happening with adding the votes, well, I might have, but it moved things along and really didn't change the results. It was a hectic crazy night after a long day; Republican Chairwoman Linda Ensor was happy. I am just glad it is sorted out.

• I think Ensor also deserves credit for demanding the provisional ballots be stored in some place other than the Sheriff's Department considering the race for sheriff was of prime concern. Taking them to a safe in Odom's office possibly saved potential legal challenges - although the paperwork that will be used to prove or disprove the validity of the ballots was taken to the Sheriff's Department by law, which still is of a concern if one follows that line. At any rate, I can vouch that one waits a week and has the provisional ballots counted then, as I have seen this happen before.

• I will point out here that some statements were still coming Wednesday from candidates. Walker County Superintendent of Education Jason Adkins, who was defeated Tuesday, said, "The Walker County School System is in a much better place that it was eight years ago. I made some difficult but necessary decisions, and as a result of that, there are no longer any big obstacles in the way of progress. The heavy lifting has been done. Tough decisions always come at a high personal cost; I understood that when I was making them. 

"I am proud of what I was able to accomplish. I am thankful for the support I have had while serving as superintendent. I appreciate the friendships I have made over the years, and I wish Dr. Hagood and his new Board the best of luck in the future." 

Meanwhile, probate judge candidate Dayron Bridges, who missed he runoff, said on Facebook, "I would like to take the time and thank all my supporters during my run for office. It was truly an eye opening experience. Politics is a different world, but I enjoyed meeting all the new people and making new friends. I woke up this morning thinking about how God has blessed me this very year and I know he has a plan for me. I have no regrets running for public office and I was proud to be in a campaign with two Class A opponents, Lee Tucker and John Mark Dutton. Our campaign was one of the most cleanest campaigns I have ever witnessed.  Special thanks to those who supported me financially."

• The voter turnout was 34.17 percent in the county. Frankly, I could always wish it was better than that, but given the trends I was pleased. 

• I couldn't help but note that Tom Parker, who was one time Roy Moore's legal advisor, defeated incumbent Chief Justice Lyn Stuart. Parker will face Bob Vance, who lost narrowly to Moore in 2012. I think picking Parker is pretty much like picking Moore, and Vance is a respected judge whose father was killed in the bombing some time ago, so I expect Democrats will invest in this race. 

• Almost lost in the flood of news was that Lee Auman won the Democratic nomination to face U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, beating Rick Neighbors of Hackleburg. Auman managed the conference center at Camp McDowell for a couple of years until he quit to campaign. 

• Again, I may have to save more comment for next week, but I can say that I have wondered what the events of the past week or so did to influence voters. The drug raid, which was first publicly raised at the Daily Mountain Eagle forum, certainly had people taking sides. Moreover, the forum speeches were repeated on television. Then we saw the double truck (excuse me, two side-by-side full pages) advertisement from the Sheriff's Office, which political types noted immediately did not carry a campaign disclosure to note it was paid for as a political ad. 

Even on the last hours of balloting on Tuesday, Adkins noted a development in the court case involving money the local schools say is owed by the Walker County Commission. Adkins said the ruling would force the commission to pay more than $1 million, but the details were sketchy as to where it was in the appeals process. He also put out a Facebook campaign advertisement pointing out the news. Frankly, we still don't have many details on what this is about — others officials appeared confused as well, thinking a hearing is later in the month — so we're going to come back to that. 

But one has to wonder what the voters were thinking with all the flurry of activity. In the case of Adkins, who lost 64 percent to 36 percent for Joel Hagood, little helped. Adkins had enthusiastic supporters (as did Hagood), but in the end not enough. I wonder if between the closed facilities and the fight against Tanya Guin, and some in between, maybe there were too many burned bridges to overcome. 

Hagood is liked in many quarters, but he who lives by the debt and the budget will die by the debt and budget, and so he and the new school board (which should be supportive for Hagood in general) will have to come up with some solutions. I will tell you that the raging question of the moment is whether Guin will go ahead with her independent race in the fall, as she appears on friendlier terms with Hagood. I have a feeling it will not get the scorched earth campaigns from most of use expected from both sides if she ran against Adkins. That is one ordeal that we have been spared, and maybe the voters realized that, too. 

I will likely have more to say next week on the elections ...  for that matter, as the ticker keeps running behind, we have just heard that Meagan Fields has been named the principal of T.R. Simmons Elementary School. We are going to have coverage on this in an edition soon. 

Ed Howell is the news editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be reached at ed.howell@mountaineagle.com