Anniston voters will have four candidates to choose from in the race for the District 32 seat in the Alabama House of Representatives, thanks to last-minute contenders who emerged last week.
James Allen Lloyd, a Wellborn businessman, qualified Friday to run for the seat, Alabama Republican Party records show.
“It’s time for someone to start bringing this area the positive things it needs,” Lloyd said. “I’m not seeing the things happen that could happen if we had someone who was more interested in development.”
By 5 p.m. Friday — the last day to qualify for the race — there seemed to be only three Democrats in the running for seat, now held by Rep. Barbara Boyd, Anniston.
Boyd qualified to run earlier this year. Angela Fears, owner of Fears Medical Touch in Anniston, threw her hat in last week, also as a Democrat. And former Anniston city councilman Seyram Selase decided Friday to seek the nomination, he says.
“We need a new voice in Montgomery,” Selase said in a telephone interview Monday.
Boyd was first elected to the District 32 seat in 1994, and has held it ever since. The district, which includes much of Anniston and a swath of Talladega County, is majority black and generally seen as the one safe foothold for Democrats in the area’s mostly-Republican legislative delegation.
The emergence of a GOP candidate may have come as a surprise even to local Republican leaders. Calhoun County Republican Party chairman James Bennett said on Friday that he'd heard of a potential GOP candidate, but didn't think that candidate would file the paperwork to run because of the demographics of the district.
The latest round of redistricting may have made the district more competitive. The district is 53 percent black according to district maps drawn last year. Before the new map, it was 60 percent black.
Lloyd, the GOP candidate, is perhaps best known as a leader of Noble Street LLC, the company that managed downtown Anniston's Watermark Tower as it was being refurbished. The building sat mostly empty for a decade after a 2003 fire.
Attempts to reach Fears, who runs a medical company in Anniston, for comment were unsuccessful Monday. Fears ran against Boyd as an independent in 2014, saying at the time that she'd be a better representative because she had “the energy to get out there and talk to people.”
Boyd said her experience in office makes her still the best choice for the district.
“These are trying times, and you need a voice of experience,” she said.
Boyd said that during her time in office, she organized the Freedom Riders park board, secured funding to repave Martin Luther King Drive in Hobson City and Gate 8 Road in Anniston and found the money to bring fourth-graders in Anniston and Talladega to Montgomery for Capitol tours.
Selase said he's in the race in part because he wants to see more home rule. Alabama's counties have historically had little control over their own policies. Cities have usually had more power, though they have to go to Montgomery for authority to make some decisions, such as legalizing alcohol sales on Sundays.
“I really want to look at what is causing our shrinking population,” Selase said. Anniston has about 22,000 residents, down from more than 30,000 at its height 50 years ago.
Selase served on the Anniston City Council from 2012 to 2016, when he lost his seat to Ben Little. Selase challenged the election in court, a case that is still ongoing.
Selase said he's not dropping that challenge, despite his run for higher office.