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December 20, 2014

Wilson wins Democratic nomination in District 1 runoff

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Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 10:09 pm | Updated: 10:22 pm, Tue Jul 15, 2014.

Fred Wilson said he was most proud Tuesday to be able to tell his 94-year-old mother that he won an election.

With 10 of 11 precincts counted on Tuesday night, the incumbent Calhoun County Commissioner from District 1 won in a landslide in the runoff contest for the Democratic nomination against challenger James Montgomery.

Wilson beat Montgomery at every polling place Tuesday night, collecting about 65 percent of the votes, or  671 to Montgomery's 352.

"My mom told me you didn't win, you were appointed," Wilson said Tuesday night after seeing the election results, referring to his appointment by Gov. Robert Bentley to the commission in 2012 after the death of longtime commissioner James "Pappy" Dunn.

"I'm so happy to tell her I won, fair and square," Wilson said.

With no Republican nominee in the District 1 race, Wilson will likely win the November general election.

District 1 covers most of western Anniston, including areas to the west of the city limits, as well as parts of McClellan, Hobson City and a small portion of Oxford.

Wilson received 660 votes in the primary election in June, finishing just shy of the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff. Montgomery received 435 votes in that election.

Wilson is a retired school teacher and principal who worked in the Clay and Talladega county school systems.

Wilson said in his second term as commissioner he'd like to see some of the projects he started, such as reconstructing a new bridge on Martin Luther King Drive in Hobson City, come to fruition.

The District 1 runoff race faced controversy in the past few weeks after some county officials said they were concerned about the high number of absentee ballot applications they had received, with 364 counted by July 7. Montgomery said Tuesday night after conceding the race he felt like that might have cast a negative light on his campaign.

"Fred ran a good race, and he beat us at every poll," Montgomery said. "That's impressive. Very impressive."

Montgomery, who previously served as an Anniston city councilman from 1992 to 2000, said he felt that absentee ballots ended up playing a small role in the election results.

Despite the loss, Montgomery said the campaign was a positive experience, and he said he hopes to serve the district in any capacity he can going forward.

"It was worth it just to get connected with people and see what's going on in my community," Montgomery said. "Fred now has the opportunity to address some of those issues, and I believe that he will."

Wilson was the only sitting commissioner to face a challenger in the primary election, and the District 1 Commission race was the only locally contested Democratic race in Calhoun County.

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