Democratic candidates for governor, statewide offices, Jefferson County offices speak at Birmingham forum
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Democratic candidates for offices ranging from Jefferson County positions to Alabama governor got a chance to speak to fellow members of their party at a forum in Birmingham Thursday night.
Gubernatorial candidates Parker Griffith and Kevin Bass headlined a long list of speakers at the event, hosted by Over the Mountain Democrats at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. They'll face off June 3 for the opportunity to challenge Gov. Robert Bentley in his bid for reelection.
Griffith, a former congressman, emphasized expanding Medicaid, jobs and an education lottery. He said before the event that he's talked to voters across the state and that they're focused on jobs.
"The jobs that we're creating, are low-pay and no-high school jobs," he said. "It's a vicious cycle in Alabama in that if we don't begin to create more good-paying jobs, then our young people are going to college and preparing to leave the state to find good employment."
Bass, a Fayette businessman and former professional baseball player, said before the event that his main focus was on expanding Medicaid and bringing high-quality jobs to Alabama. Bass also said he brings the value of his youth and the leadership skills he learned on the baseball diamond.
"Being in sports, you learn to be humble and lead by example," he said.
Candidates for every position were given a couple of minutes to speak to the crowd, and then were able to meet and greet with attendees at a reception afterward. The event also included a straw poll, in which Griffith beat Bass by 75 votes to 12.
Those in contested races in the June 3 primary used the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their opponents. In the race for state House District 52, challenger Patrick Sellers cited a need for change, saying incumbent Rep. John Rogers isn't getting it done.
"I'm tired of getting what we've been getting," Sellers said. "It's time for a change. It's time for a new vision. It's time for a new direction. It's time for new leadership in Montgomery."
Sellers also said he was beating Rogers' socks off of him, and Rogers responded by hiking up his pants legs for the crowd and proclaiming "I still got 'em on."
Rogers said he's been fighting for the Birmingham area in the legislature and will continue to do so.
"I don't mind fighting. You know me," he said. "It's no time for a rookie who can't find the bathroom [at the State House]."
In the straw poll for that race, Sellers edged Rogers by a single vote, 44-43.
Candidates from several other races spoke, including those running for Jefferson County Commission seats, area judgeships, Jefferson County tax collector, other house seats and Alabama's 7th Congressional District.
See the full results of the straw poll below, courtesy of Over the Mountain Democrats. The straw poll is not scientific and didn't include Republican candidates or candidates who were absent.
Governor: Parker Griffith 75, Kevin Bass 12
7th Congressional District: Rep. Terri Sewell 56, Tamara Harris Johnson 29 (A representative for Sewell spoke at the forum, but Sewell was in Washington and could not attend)
House District 52: Patrick Sellers 44, Rep. John Rogers 43
House District 54: Rep. Patricia Todd 51, Chris Cummings 25, Lawrence Conaway 10
House District 55: Rep. Rod Scott 39, Eric Major 15 (Neither candidate attended the forum)
House District 56: Louise Alexander 24, Rep. Lawrence McAdory 15 (Neither candidate attended the forum)
House District 59: Chris Davis 55, Rep. Mary Moore 29, William A. Barnes 19
House District 60: Rep. Juandalynn Givan 31, Arthur Shores Lee 28
Jefferson County Commission Place 1: Earl Hilliard 46, Commissioner George Bowman 40, Roderick Royal 0 (Royal was not present at the forum)
Jefferson County Commission Place 2: Max Michael 30, Shelia Smoot 24, Commissioner Sandra Little Brown 20, Birmingham City Councilor Sheila Tyson 18, Steve Small Jr. 3 (A representative for Brown spoke for her)
Jefferson County Sheriff: Charles "Todd" Henderson 49, Wallace Anger Jr. 28
10th Judicial Circuit Place 10: Perryn Carroll 43, Pat Ballard 24, Wyndall Ivey 11, Charles Boohaker 10
10th Judicial Circuit Place 3: Martin Weinberg 53, Everett Wess 30
Jefferson County Tax Collector: J.T. Smallwood 41, Jeanetta Bickerstaff-Miller 40