The five candidates vying for the District 5 seat on the Calhoun County Commission told voters Tuesday night they were familiar with residents’ needs, pledging a time commitment and open-door policy if elected.
The Republican candidates for the seat, the most hotly contested local primary race in Calhoun County, took part in a forum Tuesday night at the Jacksonville Community Center, answering questions from voters ranging from working with Jacksonville State University to dealing with the county’s stray animal population. It was the final of three such sessions hosted by the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce and The Anniston Star ahead of the June 3 primary. Because there are no Democrats running for the office, the primary winner will likely win the November general election.
District 5 covers the northern portion of the county including all of Jacksonville and Piedmont and portions of Angel, Webster’s Chapel, Pleasant Valley, White Plains and Rabbittown.
Although asked about job creation, expanding city limits and education, all five candidates stressed their biggest asset would be their commitment to the job, promising to be open servants to the residents of District 5.
“I see the County Commissioner as a full-time job,” said Jay Dill, a Jacksonville businessman. “I wouldn’t have thrown my hat in the ring unless I knew I could serve the people of District 5.”
Dill and candidate Jason Lively both spoke out about having regular town hall-style meetings in District 5 to listen to concerns from residents. Lively suggested the meetings could rotate between Jacksonville, Piedmont and unincorporated areas such as White Plains.
Bill Lindsey, a retired Alabama Power employee from Piedmont, said he was concerned with how hard it was to get in touch with current commissioners and promised to always be available for residents.
“When I worked for Alabama Power I was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Lindsey said. “I went 29 years on call.”
Lee Patterson, a driver with the United Parcel Service, told voters his lifelong residency in the Jacksonville area made him familiar with the needs of residents.
“I know the people, I know the churches, I know the schools, I know the roads, and I know where the bridges are,” Patterson said. “I want to build bridges now, between you and the county.”
Phillip Pritchett, a former District 5 commissioner in the 1990s who served as a Democrat, expressed that with long-serving County Administrator Ken Joiner set to retire next year, it was important an experienced County Commission steady the ship through the transitional period.
“A lot of what is going to be needed is experience,” Pritchett said. “And I’m the most experienced candidate. I’ve been here before.”