Campaign News
June 01, 2014

Go to the polls Tuesday and make your vote count

Staff Reports   ·  The Montgomery Advertiser   ·  Link to Article
Go to the polls Tuesday and make your vote count

The campaign season leading up to Tuesday's party primaries has been short on meaningful debate and long on name-calling, but that should not overshadow the importance of these elections. Critical matters ranging from public education to utility rates will be shaped by the outcomes.

We urge readers to go to the polls — and remember to carry a photo ID. That will be required in order to vote in either primary Tuesday.

Following are our endorsements in selected races:

Two seats on the Montgomery County Board of Education are being contested in the primary. In District 1, Republican voters will choose between incumbent Heather Sellers and challenger Lesa Keith. In District 6, Democratic voters will decide whether to re-elect Robert Porterfield or replace him with Timothy Bass.

Montgomerians know all too well the struggles of the school board and the contentiousness that for a time was an unwelcome trademark. However, the board is working better together now than it has in years and the school system has moved into a relatively stable period under Superintendent Margaret Allen. It still faces many challenges, but there appears to be more reason for hope than our community has seen in quite a while.

That argues for keeping the board intact in this election cycle. In Sellers' case, she brings conscientiousness and commitment to the job, and with the experience of a term to gain from, those qualities should serve the system well. She was on the right side in both the hiring and firing of former Superintendent Barbara Thompson.

The case for Porterfield's re-election is weaker, given his role in the hiring of Thompson and his participation in questionable serial meetings at the time. Unfortunately for the district, however, Bass has failed to articulate any compelling reasons why he should get the job. If Porterfield wins, we hope he will move away from cheerleading and spouting jargon to a more clear-eyed view of the challenges at MPS.

In the statewide races, the strongest field by far is in the Republican contest for secretary of state — Reese McKinney, the former Montgomery County probate judge; state Rep. John Merrill of Tuscaloosa, an energetic and engaging candidate; and Jim Perdue, probate judge of Crenshaw County.

Each candidate can point to considerable qualification for the office, but we recommend GOP voters choose McKinney. His record as probate judge was exemplary and innovative, particularly in the administration of elections. As the secretary of state is Alabama's chief elections official, that is valuable experience.

In the Republican primary for the Place 2 seat on the Public Service Commission, incumbent Terry Dunn faces three challengers, which likely is three more than he would have faced had he not pushed for formal rate hearings for the state's largest utilities. Such hearings had not been held for 30 years.

Dunn did the right thing for the people of the state, but his principled actions earned him the opposition of utilities and dubious anti-environmental groups. Republican voters will send a commendable message if they reject the unjust attacks on Dunn and choose him as the party nominee.

In the Republican race for state auditor, the party can only embarrass itself if it nominates Dale Peterson or Jim Zeigler. Neither is fit for public service. Adam Thompson or Hobbie Sealy would be far more credible candidates.

In the Democratic race for the 7th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, incumbent Terri Sewell is clearly the better choice. She is a smart, insightful representative who is both well attuned to the needs of her district and sensible in her approach to broader national and international issues. Challenger Tamara Harris Johnson, who entered the race after failing to get Sewell's support for a federal judgeship appointment, offers little argument for her selection over Sewell.

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