Qualifiers for Cleburne County
by Laura Camper
news@cleburnenews.com
Feb 20, 2014 | 2120 views |  0 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With qualifying for local elections officially closed, it appears that most Cleburne County races will be decided in the Republican primary on June 3.

Only one Democrat, Diane C. Williamson, candidate for Board of Education, qualified for the upcoming elections.

Darrell Turner, chairman of the Cleburne County Democratic party and candidate for Alabama State Senate District 13, said he’s unsure why more Democrats didn’t qualify this year.

“Truthfully, people are discouraged by the way our legislators have been acting,” Turner said. “That’s what a couple people have told me.”

Board of Education - Member-At-Large

Williamson of Heflin will be running against Lonny Watson from Delta for the member-at-large seat currently occupied by Dana Turner. Turner is not running for re-election for health reasons, he said.

Williamson, 52, is a former board member. She was on the board for 12 years until 2010 when she decided not to run for re-election for health reasons. Now that her health has improved, she decided to run again.

Williamson, a lifelong resident of Cleburne County, believes academics should be foremost on board members’ minds as they make decisions.

“We just have to work together to make sure students get the best possible service,” she said.

Williamson, owner of Luv-N-Care Day Care Center in Ranburne, said she has 24 years of experience working in childhood education, she said.

Watson, 44, is running his second election for Board of Education. He ran an unsuccessful campaign in 2012, Watson said. Watson decided to run after coaching baseball for the Heflin Parks and Recreation Department.

“Over the years, I have gained a passion in seeing our young kids grow and learn,” he said. “I want to see our children excel.”

Watson, an account manager for Moba USA, a manufacturer of food processing equipment, said he would especially like to be involved with the strategic planning for the school system. He would also like to see more local students getting scholarships, Watson said.

Cleburne County Sheriff

There are two Heflin Republicans running for Cleburne County Sheriff. Sheriff Joe Jacks is not running for re-election. Darrell Durham, a former sheriff, who lost re-election to Jacks in 2003, said he was ready for the challenge.

Durham, 61, worked for the Anniston Army Depot from 2004 until it closed his department in 2012. He said his family has been working in law enforcement since the 1860s when his great, great uncle served in the county. Durham served as a police officer in Heflin and as a forest ranger as well as sheriff, he said.

Durham would like to add education programs in the schools including self-defense programs and school resource officers at the county schools that don’t currently have them, he said. He would also like to add gun safety programs for adults, Durham said.

Dennis Green, 63, said he is running for Sheriff because he felt like he could help affect positive change in the county. His two greatest concerns are illegal drugs and child abuse.

Green said he’s worked in the Cleburne County Sheriff’s office for 23 years and has seen how illegal drugs have driven up crime. He said he’s worked several murder investigations in which drugs were a factor and during interrogations Green has heard countless people say they stole property to get money for drugs.

“I’ve never heard anybody say they did it to buy food,” Green said. “Get rid of the drugs and it will reduce theft and things.”

He would start by appointing a second deputy to investigate drug crimes and introduce more drug education programs for local students, Green said.

Revenue Commissioner

Incumbent Joyce Fuller, 44, will be running for her second six-year term as revenue commissioner. While in office, she has earned her certification as a tax administrator, a four-year process.

Fuller, a Heflin resident, is running for re-election because she likes the job and takes it seriously, she said.

“This job is very important to the functioning of the county,” Fuller said.

Her challenger is political newcomer Natasha Horn, 28. Horn of Delta is making her first foray into politics because she wants to serve people. Horn works as a legal assistant with Peggy Miller, but previously worked in the Cleburne County Probate office.

“That was the happiest I’ve ever been,” Horn said. “I love working with the public and understand their needs and concerns.”

Her work with the probate office and as a legal assistant has given her ample knowledge of taxes, property and deeds, Horn said. She said one of the things she would like to change as revenue commissioner are the office hours. She would like to see the office stay open until 5 p.m. to allow working people more time to get there, Horn said.

County Coroner

Gary Mayfield, 52, is running against incumbent Ben McKnight, 38, for the office of Cleburne County coroner.

McKnight was appointed to the position in November 2012 by the governor when the office became vacant. He had been serving as deputy coroner for 10 years at the time, McKnight said. He’s running for his first four-year term, because the job affords him the opportunity to help people. One way he does that is by being a member of the Calhoun-Cleburne Child Death Review Board. The group meets once or twice a year to discuss all child deaths in the two counties and to brainstorm about how they could have been prevented, McKnight said. It’s a part of his job that he really enjoys, McKnight said.

McKnight works at his family’s business, Dryden Funeral Home, which also serves as the county morgue.

“I tend to focus more on the family because of my experience in the funeral home,” McKnight said.

Mayfield, a Heflin resident, would provide a different perspective, he said.

“What I would like to see is the office of coroner move from a mortuary standpoint to a medical investigator,” Mayfield said.

He’s seen it in other counties and thinks it would work here, Mayfield said. Mayfield’s background as a firefighter and licensed fire investigator and 30 years working as a respiratory therapist would allow him to make that transition, he said.

“I’d like to use my skills to serve the county,” Mayfield said.

County Commissioner District 3

Terry Hendrix, 55, is challenging incumbent Benji Langley, 32, for his seat on the Commission. Langley, who has lived all his life in Cleburne County, will be running for his second term as commissioner. He feels like he has made a contribution in his first term and there are projects, such as widening and repaving County Road 10 that he would like to see through, Langley said.

“Once you get ‘em started you don’t want to just up and leave ‘em,” Langley said.

Langley said his three years’ experience will allow him to better serve the public in his second term as commissioner is a job you learn by doing.

Hendrix, also a lifelong Cleburne County resident, said he is running because he believes the county’s tax dollars could be spent more efficiently. As a businessman, Hendrix owns Cleburne County Parts, a Napa Auto Parts store in Heflin, he thinks he might be the one to turn that around.

“The biggest part of the job is figuring out where to put the tax dollars,” he said.

The county and the commissioners need to prioritize, Hendrix said.

Hendrix said with his children getting older he is at a point in his life where he can devote the time and energy the job requires.

County Commissioner District 2

Commissioner Emmett Owen has no challengers for his seat as District 2 commissioner.

Staff writer Laura Camper 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.
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Qualifiers for Cleburne County by Laura Camper
news@cleburnenews.com

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