Similarities among most candidates emphasized at county election forum
by Brian Anderson
banderson@annistonstar.com
Oct 30, 2012 | 3287 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Voters listen to candidates for the Calhoun County Board of Education Tuesday night during a forum at the Anniston Meeting center. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
Voters listen to candidates for the Calhoun County Board of Education Tuesday night during a forum at the Anniston Meeting center. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
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If a Tuesday night forum is any indication, most local candidates for Calhoun County official positions see pretty much eye-to-eye.

With less than a week to go until the Nov. 6 election, candidates for Calhoun County Board of Education, circuit judge and circuit clerk took time at the Anniston City Meeting Center to answer questions from residents about their positions and stances before voters make up their mind at the polls.

For the most part, there wasn’t too much disagreement on what needs to be done, or how to go about doing it.

Board of Education candidates seemed eager to agree with each other on just about every major issue raised. Funding is and will continue to be a problem, they said. Good teachers need to be recognized for their work, possibly with raises, and implementing the best technology possible in the schools is crucial to moving forward.

And perhaps most importantly, all seven candidates who participated in Tuesday’s forum agreed that county schools were moving in the right direction.

“If you look at our system presently, this county has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this system the past 24 years I’ve served on this board making sure this system is up where it needs to be,” said current board member Mike Almaroad during a question about technology. “We’re not Piedmont…but are we moving in that position? I think we are.”

Bucking the agreement trend was the forum for Calhoun County Circuit Clerk. Calhoun County Commissioner Eli Henderson, the Republican candidate, touted his experience in politics as a plus for the position. In response to his opponent, Democratic candidate Missy Hall, who said money would be allotted equally to all counties in Alabama when it was available, Henderson argued getting money is about having the right friends in high places.

“We’ve done a lot of things in Calhoun County because we know the right people in the right places,” Henderson said, referring to state legislators including Del Marsh and Randy Wood. What we’re going to do is work with the legislative delegation, all Republicans like I am…sit down with them and break bread with them. I think I can make it happen.”

But Hall, a legal assistant, argued throughout the forum that experience was more important than political affiliation and disagreed with Henderson’s stance that residents in the county would vote a straight Republican ticket.

“I don’t really believe our position is clerical,” Hall said, in response to Henderson. “I’ve talked to people who said they vote straight Republican who said they’ll deviate on the circuit clerk because they want to see someone with some experience be put into that office this time.”

Current Circuit Clerk Ted Hooks is retiring at the end of his term.

Anniston attorney Bud Turner and Calhoun County Assistant District Attorney Foster Marshall participated in the final forum of the night. The two candidates running for the position of Circuit Clerk, Place 1, largely agreed on the role a judge should play in the courtroom, while each said his experience in front of the bench qualified him to be a firm and impartial judge.

“People expect a judge to be fair,” Turner said. “They want to have their day in court, be listened to, be treated fairly, and respectfully.”

Marshall didn’t find much to argue with.

“It’s not a popularity contest,” Marshall said. “I’m not looking for applause. I’ve made very unpopular decisions as prosecutor. The purpose of the position isn’t to make people happy all the time, it’s to make the right decision based on facts.”

The current circuit judge in Place 1, Malcolm Street, is retiring at the end of his term after more than 30 years on the bench.

Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.
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