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12 Alabama Water Systems Have Had Lead Contamination since 2010. None Exceed Federal Limits Now.

Drinking water from 12 Alabama water systems has contained more lead than allowed by federal rules at various times since 2010, according to officials with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

Tests on drinking water have shown lead levels of up to 72 parts per billion, more than four times the 15 ppb federal limit. But no water system is currently in violation of federal rules for lead.

A study released earlier this week showed 5,300 water systems across the country were in violation of the federal rules for lead and copper in 2015. The study, conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council based on data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was spurred by the discovery of widespread lead contamination of the drinking water in Flint, Michigan. Read more.

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More and More Alabama Students Take Advanced Placement Courses. Will That Raise Achievement in the State’s Public Schools?

A growing number of Alabama high schoolers this spring took year-end exams for their Advanced Placement classes, hoping to make passing scores, earn college credits and ease their paths in higher education.

They are part of a steady expansion and emphasis on Advanced Placement classes in Alabama since 2008.

The change has been led by A+ College Ready Initiative, a public-private partnership between A+ Education Partnership and the Alabama State Department of Education. Read more.

An Alabama Pioneer: This Jefferson County School Offers a Diverse Mix of Students a “Most Challenging” Education  

For the ninth straight year, a Jefferson County school has earned a seat near the head of the class of the nation’s high schools, according to annual rankings by The Washington Post.

The Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School (JCIBS) ranked ninth in the newspaper’s annual list of “America’s Most Challenging High Schools”. JCIBS is a “school within a school,” part of Shades Valley High School.

Springville High School:  Test Scores, Parents’ Questions Lead To a New Advanced Placement Program   

Amanda Umphrey describes a careful start to the relationship between Springville High School and its new Advanced Placement program.

Umphrey, now AP coordinator at Springville and in her 10th year at the school, said timing hadn’t been right earlier for introducing AP. A step in that direction was teachers taking note that ACT scores of students at their school were higher than at other St. Clair County High Schools.

Hoover's Trace Crossings Elementary School

Court Documents Describe Longstanding Turmoil in Hoover’s Trace Crossings Elementary, at least among Teachers and Staff

Court documents and testimony in a federal sexual discrimination lawsuit are now providing an inside, public look at the dysfunction inside Hoover’s Trace Crossings elementary school during the years parents were leaving in droves for private-and home-school opportunities. Those parents’ decisions changed the school’s demographic mix, emptied out the school, and ultimately led district officials to propose geographically rezoning much of the 13,800-student district.

The Hoover school community is not unlike most in buying the idea that if a school has more poor kids, more kids of color, that school is more likely to have low test scores.

“The notion of blaming the kids is unfortunately very, very common,” Dr. James Spillane, Olin Professor of Learning and Organizational Change at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University in Illinois, said in a recent interview. Read more.

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Drinking Water Worries: ADEM Conducts New Tests. North Alabama System Seeks Governor’s Help. Callers Flood County Health Departments.

Representatives of North Alabama’s West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority met with Gov. Robert Bentley’s staff Friday to request bottled water and other alternative sources of water for its 100,000 customers, who are advised not to drink the system’s water for now.

The system is operating under an advisory from the Environmental Protection Agency that its water has unsafe levels of PFOS and PFOA contaminants. Read more.

Oliver Elementary School:  New building, shelves of books, struggling test scores

An Alabama Teacher of the Year left. Birmingham’s Oliver Elementary School made national headlines. What happened? What does that say about a path to better schools?

As the last day of school approached at Birmingham’s Oliver Elementary this week, 44-year-old teacher Ann Marie Corgill found herself reflecting on what, for her and many others, was a devastating year.

When she decided to walk away from the school after teaching only nine weeks last October, she was in a low place, she said. Not only did the 21-year teaching veteran question her methods, but the Birmingham City Schools system informed her that, although she was nationally board certified and a former Alabama Teacher of the Year, she was not “highly-qualified.”

Her story was picked up in local and national news with stories in The Washington Post, CBS News, USA Today, National Public Radio and Huffington Post. Read more.

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2016 Primary Election Voter Guide

Alabama voters go to the polls March 1, and there’s a lot more on the ballot than the high-profile presidential race. In Democratic and Republican primaries, voters will nominate candidates  for U.S. Senate and the state’s Public Service Commission president, Supreme Court and Board of Education, plus decide on an amendment. Voters in Jefferson and Shelby counties will pick nominees for judgeships, school board seats, district attorney and treasurer offices. BirminghamWatch and Weld For Birmingham, Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM, Starnes Publishing, B-Metro and Kaleidoscope are collaborating to offer this one-stop, interactive, factual, non-partisan Voter Guide. Candidate profiles, sample ballots, answers about issues, campaign contributor lists, info on where to vote and more.

Vote buttons stack with red and blue colors

Primary Runoff Voter Guide 2016

Voters go back to the polls April 12 to determine the nominees in several races that were undecided after the March 1 primary. For races in which no candidate got half of the votes or more, the top two candidates will compete for the nomination. There is no statewide race on the ballot. In Jefferson County, four races – three judgeships and the treasurer’s seat – are on the Democratic ballot and two races – a seat on the state Board of Education and one on the county Board of Education – are on the Republican ballot. In Shelby County, two races – a judgeship and a seat on the County Commission – are on the Republican ballot and there is no Democratic runoff.

Alabama House chamber

Legislators end session with Alabama Medicaid, payday loans, prisons as they found them

When legislators adjourned sine die, they left the state in important ways as they found it at the beginning of the legislative session in March.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. Bills that would have funded major prison construction, increased money for Medicaid, reduced payday loan interest rates and changed teacher tenure and evaluation laws all were introduced but died during the session.
That’s not to say legislators did nothing. Read More.

Inside treatment plant that processes river water

North Alabama residents want an answer. Have years of drinking Tennessee River water been safe?

UPDATE: The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new health advisory on long-term exposure to PFOA and PFOS contaminants in drinking water. Tests of water from the West Morgan East Lawrence Water Authority, featured in this story, showed PFOA and PFOS contaminants above the level that might cause health problems, EPA says.

A new question of safe drinking water is playing out in North Alabama. There, residents and the West Morgan East Lawrence Water Authority have filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court against 3M, maker of products from Scotchgard to Post-It Notes, in connection with toxins in the water supply.

The EPA is expected to release new guidelines on safe levels of the contaminants this spring.

There’s conflict brewing over who might foot the bill if a cleanup is in order.Read More.

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Who’s in Charge of Alabama Education?  Governor, Legislator, Education Leaders Disagree Publicly, Spotlight Fault Lines

There is a battle going on in Montgomery over who controls the education of Alabama’s children. Fault lines are becoming increasingly evident.

Tempers flared at last week’s State Board of Education meetings in a display of direct pushback by state education leaders against the Executive and Legislative branches of Alabama’s government.

Typically, education leaders are called to appear before legislators. On last Thursday, the tables were turned. Both the Governor and the chair of the House Education Policy committee were present at Board of Education sessions. The education leaders took full advantage of their home field position, calling both to task over perceived power grabs in recent weeks. Read more.

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Medicaid Reform Plan

There’s a new player in town for the 2016 Alabama Medicaid budget battle. It brings to the table a game plan, years of friendly relations with the other players and a multi-million-dollar stake.

The question is whether a reform idea, even backed with that history and funding, is enough to influence the entrenched model of politicians and advocates arguing over too little money, too much need and no fundamental change.

The player is Alabama Medicaid’s regional care organization plan, a managed care-style approach intended to deal with illnesses before they are emergencies and designed to both slow the growth in costs and improve health outcomes.

Read more:

Vote buttons stack with red and blue colors

Primary Runoff Voter Guide 2016

Voters go back to the polls April 12 to determine the nominees in several races that were undecided after the March 1 primary.

For races in which no candidate got half of the votes or more, the top two candidates will compete for the nomination.

There is no statewide race on the ballot. In Jefferson County, four races – three judgeships and the treasurer’s seat – are on the Democratic ballot and two races – a seat on the state Board of Education and one on the county Board of Education – are on the Republican ballot. In Shelby County, two races – a judgeship and a seat on the County Commission – are on the Republican ballot and there is no Democratic runoff.

BirminghamWatch, Weld For Birmingham, Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM, Starnes Publishing, B-Metro, Trussville Tribune and Birmingham Public Library are partners in offering this one-stop, interactive, factual, non-partisan Voter Guide.

Candidate profiles, sample ballots, campaign contributor lists, info on where to vote and more. It’s all in the guide. Visit AlabamaVoterGuide.org

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Big Education Issues on the Table for Alabama’s Lawmakers

With 12 legislative days left in the 2016 Regular Session, Alabama’s lawmakers will find a table full of education issues when they return from spring break next week.

There are education savings accounts (the bill has been changed to apply only to children with disabilities), a statewide longitudinal data system to capture and track data for students from preschool through when they enter the workforce, the all-things-teachers bill, a.k.a, the PREP Act, the Alabama Ahead Act (which provides funding for wireless infrastructure for schools needing it), widening of the state’s growing virtual school program, and…the Education Trust Fund budget which has yet to be debated by the Senate after its passage in the House.

Not to mention the other 60 or so education-related bills still waiting for lawmakers’ attention.

BirminghamWatch has kept close watch on legislation during this session, so look there for weekly updates.

We’re taking stock of what lawmakers will face upon their return. Read more . . .

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What’s the Difference in the PREP Act & What Alabama Is Already Doing?

How are Alabama’s teachers being evaluated?

Are those evaluations helping teachers get better at teaching?

Are students learning more as a result of those evaluations?

The first question is easy enough. The latter two are more confounding.

Identifying effective teachers who improve student learning is the subject of Sen. Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) PREP (Preparing and Rewarding Education Professionals) Act, which barely cleared the Senate Education and Youth Affairs committee last week and is expected to be considered by the full Senate in the near future.

Since we published the draft of Marsh’s all-things-teacher-improvement-and-reform proposal last December, it has been the topic of conversations across Alabama. Read more . . .

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2016 Legislative Update

The long-anticipated rewrite of Alabama’s tenure and job evaluation law for teachers and school administrators was introduced in the Legislature last week. It would require regular evaluations of teachers and tie part of their performance rating to student growth. But it does not include the controversial proposal to tie teacher bonuses to student test scores, which was in the first draft of the bill. Also last week, a House committee passed an Education Trust Fund budget that would give up to 4 percent raises to education workers and that includes money to hire 475 more teachers and expand the states pre-K program. The Legislature is now dealing with more than 40 education-related measures.

Birmingham, City of Immigrants: Newcomers Follow Opportunity, Face Slurs, Find a Home

About 18 months ago, when St. Symeon Orthodox Church was building a new sanctuary at its Highland Park site, its rector got a reminder of how much Birmingham has changed since he first came here in the 1980s.

A team of Hispanic workers did the plaster work on the dome inside the new building. They also did the exterior stonework. “They just were tremendously diligent and acquitted themselves so impressively that you couldn’t help but take notice,” says the Rev. Alexander Fecanin, himself the grandson of Russian immigrants. Fecanin also took notice when another team arrived to install the sanctuary’s shiny new hardwood floor. It consisted of a man originally from Romania, along with his son. In the grand scheme of diverse things, the construction project at St. Symeon was a small blip on the radar. But it was yet another marker on the upward climbing graph charting the Birmingham area’s ever greater diversity. “Alabama is no longer…or Birmingham is not a black or white conversation,” says local attorney Freddy Rubio, who came here as an English-challenged Puerto Rican in 1991. “It is white, black, and other, [and] there’s nothing that we can do to stop that.” Read more. . .

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Voter Guide

Alabama voters go to the polls March 1, and there’s a lot more on the ballot than the high-profile presidential race.

In Democratic and Republican primaries, voters will nominate candidates  for U.S. Senate and the state’s Public Service Commission president, Supreme Court and Board of Education, plus decide on an amendment.

Voters in Jefferson and Shelby counties will pick nominees for judgeships, school board seats, district attorney and treasurer offices.

BirminghamWatch and Weld For Birmingham, Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM, Starnes Publishing, B-Metro and Kaleidoscope are collaborating to offer this one-stop, interactive, factual, non-partisan Voter Guide.

Candidate profiles, sample ballots, answers about issues, campaign contributor lists, info on where to vote and more. It’s all in the guide below.

Find Your Polling Place

At the Secretary of State Office’s Alabama Votes website, you can look up your assigned polling place and see a list of the districts in which you are eligible to vote. AlabamaVotes.Gov

Verify Your Registration

If you haven’t voted in a while or you’re new to voting, it’s best to check your voter registration status and make sure you are listed as an “active” voter. Registration Information

 

ID You’ll Need at the Polls

By Kesha Drexel

To vote in Alabama’s March 1 primary, voters must present photo identification or a free Alabama Photo Voter ID card. Forms of identification accepted include a valid Alabama driver’s license or non-driver ID card, a valid state or federal-issued ID, a valid U.S. passport, a valid employee ID from the federal, state, county or municipal government, a valid student or employee photo ID from a college or university, a valid U.S. military photo ID card and a valid tribal photo ID card. A voter without a valid form of photo identification can vote on a regular ballot if he or she is positively identified as an eligible voter in the precinct by two election officials. If the voter cannot be identified by two election officials, he or she can vote on a provisional ballot. For more information, visit www.alabamavoterid.com or call the Secretary of State Elections Division at 800-274-8683 or 334-242-7210.

Jefferson County Treasurer, Duties

The duties: The Jefferson County Treasurer’s Office is responsible for managing the cash flow of the county while maintaining transparency with the public. The Treasurer’s Office manages the payroll of county employees, pays county vendors and handles the county’s tax revenue.  

Report a Problem at the Polls

If you suspect you have encountered irregularities in state and local elections, you can report the incidents through the Secretary of State Office’s Stop Voter Fraud Now website. All reports of alleged violations filed through the web site will be kept confidential. http://www.stopvoterfraudnow.com/

 

 

Jefferson County Deputy Treasurer, Duties

 

The duties: The Jefferson County Deputy Treasurer assists the Jefferson County Treasurer in his or her daily duties, which includes supervising investments, verifying financial risks and presenting financial reports.  

Research Election Financing

Want to know more about the contributions received and expenditures made by a state candidate? You can look at their financial disclosure forms on the Secretary of State Office’s Alabama Votes website. You also can search by contributor to find out which candidates people, companies, and political action committees are supporting through their wallets. Alabama Electronic Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA) Reporting System

 

 

League of Women Voters’ Vote411 Guide

At the League of Women Voters’ Vote411.org site, you can put in your address and get a list of the state and national candidates who will be on your ballot. You also can read answers to a series of issues-based questions the League asked each state and national candidate and compare their answers side by side. If you mark your favorite candidates, the League will email or text you a copy of your personalized ballot. League of Women Voters’ Vote411.org site

 

Andrew Bennett (D)

Jefferson County Treasurer

Andrew Bennett

Date of birth: July 1938; 77

Residence: Birmingham

Political experience: Bessemer Division tax assessor, 2009-2015. Professional experience: Bessemer Division tax assessor, 2009-2015; director of parks and recreation, city of Bessemer, 2001-2008; building inspector, 1977-2000; chief of contracts and administration, International Commission of Contracts, and supervision of the national delegations, 1965-1975. Civic experience: Member, board of directors, Project Hopewell. Education: University of Maryland; Cuyahoga Community College. Main issues: Bennett says his main issues, if elected, would be transparency of funds, honesty, and integrity.

Eric Major (D)

Jefferson County Treasurer

Eric Major

Date of Birth: April 6,1968; age 47

Residence: Fairfield

Political experience: Alabama House of Representatives District 55, 1998-2006; ran for Jefferson County Commission, 2007; executive committee member, National Conference of Black State Legislators, 2002; former executive committee member, National Conference of Mayors. Professional experience: Executive director, Alabama Minority Health Institute; executive director, Global Development Group; Alabama House member, 1998-2006; former staff member for former U.S. 7th District congressman; previous international elections monitor, Gambia, Africa. Civic experience: Member, Faith Chapel Christian Center; board member, Western Area YMCA; founder, Alabama Charity Association; economic empowerment chair, Birmingham Chapter of the NAACP; elected chairman of the Jefferson County Citizen’s Coalition; formerly recognized by Ebony Magazine as one of the Top 30 Leaders under 30. Education: Bachelor’s in political science, University of Alabama at Birmingham; associate’s, Jefferson State Community College. Main issues: Major pledged that, if elected, he would make sure that records of the Treasurer’s Office are transparent and that he is available and accountable to residents of the county.

Mike Miles (D)

Jefferson County Treasurer

Michael “Mike” D. Miles

Date of birth: August, 1954; 61

Residence: Birmingham

Political Experience: Jefferson County treasurer, 2013-present; elected member of Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee; assistant Alabama secretary of state, 1994-1995; director, Intergovernmental relations for Birmingham, 1983-1990; ran political campaigns on city, county, state, legislative and congressional levels, 1977-2007. Professional experience: Jefferson County treasurer, 2013-present; political and business consultant; president of the board, treasurer, Childcare Resources; former installment loan officer; Birmingham Trust National Bank; National General Council on Finance, United Methodist Church. Civic Experience: Financial crusade chairman, American Cancer Society; board chairman, Alabama Center for Law and Civic Education; president, Downtown Democratic Club; adult adviser, North Alabama Conference Council on Youth Ministry; member and former Sunday school teacher at Canterbury United Methodist Church; chairman of the task force of the Jefferson County Board of Education. Education: University of Alabama at Birmingham, interdisciplinary major with concentration in finance, political science, history and English. Main Issues: Miles said that, if he is re-elected, his main issues will be to continue to rebrand the county’s financial operations, perfect new paperless payroll for all county employees and continue to strengthen local banks, particularly minority- owned lenders.

Alabama House of Representatives.

It’s Not Just AEA Anymore. Alabama Legislators Draw National Lobbying Attention

Across the country, national companies and causes, from Uber to pharmaceutical manufacturers, are turning their lobbying power onto state legislatures where they seek a better chance of influencing decisions than in Washington. The Alabama Legislature, now in session in Montgomery, is no stranger to this new attention.

From 2010 through 2014, Alabama’s 140 senators and representatives were the focus of six times that many entities pushing their messages and protecting their interests in Montgomery.

These are findings of a just-released study by the Center for Public Integrity, a national government watchdog group.

Jefferson County District Court, Place 4, Duties

The duties: District Court handles all misdemeanors and traffic violations that have been investigated by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Alabama Department of Public Safety and other various state agencies. District Court also is the initial courtroom phase for all felony cases that have not been indicted by a grand jury.  

Alabama Supreme Court, Associate Justice, Place 3, Duties

The duties: The Supreme Court of Alabama is composed of a chief justice and eight associate justices. The primary responsibility of the justices is to review decisions made by other courts of the state. They also have jurisdiction over all appeals involving a controversy over more than $50,000 and appeals from the Alabama Public Service Commission.  

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 17, Duties

The duties: Circuit Court is the highest court in the county. The circuit courts are where jury trials take place. In most Alabama counties, the circuit courts hear both civil and criminal cases. In Jefferson County there is a civil division and a criminal division. This seat hears civil cases.

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 11, Duties

The duties: Circuit Court is the highest court in the county. The circuit courts are where jury trials take place. In most Alabama counties, the circuit courts hear both civil and criminal cases. In Jefferson County there is a civil division and a criminal division. This seat hears civil cases.

Jefferson County Circuit Court, Place 22, Duties

The duties: Circuit Court is the highest court in the county.  The circuit courts are where jury trials take place. In most Alabama counties, the circuit courts hear both civil and criminal cases. In Jefferson County there is a civil division and a criminal division.  The Place 22 seat handles civil cases.

Shelby County Commission, Duties

The duties: The responsibilities of the Shelby County Commission include supervision of all county public funds, adoption of an annual county budget, construction and maintenance and providing services through all city departments.

Shelby County Commission, Duties

The duties: The responsibilities of the Shelby County Commission include supervision of all county public funds, adoption of an annual county budget, construction and maintenance and providing services through all city departments.  

Laura McCauley Alvis (R)

Circuit Court Judge, 18th Judicial Circuit, Place No. 4

Name: Lara McCauley Alvis

Date of birth: Dec. 31, 1974; age 41

Residence: Pelham

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Private practice, Alvis & Alvis, 2007-present; adjunct professor, University of Alabama School of Law, 2006-present; associate attorney, Allison, May, Alvis, Fuhrmeister and Kimbrough, 2006-2007; judicial law clerk, Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, 2000-2001; law clerk, Alabama Attorney General’s Office, 1998 and 2000; assistant district attorney, Shelby County, 1998-2000 and 2001-2006; law clerk, summer of 1998 and during the 1999-2000 school year. Civic experience: Board of directors, Easter Seals, 2015-present; founder, Girl Scout Troop 983, 2014-present; advisory board member, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Shelby County, 2014-2016; Church Council member, Lakeview Pelham’s First United Methodist Church, 2013-present. Education: University of Alabama School of Law, juris doctorate, 2000; University of Alabama, bachelor’s, graduated magna cum laude, 1997.

Patrick Kennedy (R)

Circuit Court Judge, 18th Judicial Circuit, Place No. 4

Name:  Patrick E. Kennedy

Date of birth: June 15, 1971; age 44

Residence: Alabaster

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Private practice, 2001-present; contractor with the Administrative Office of Courts handling juvenile court matters, 2004-present; guardian ad litem, circuit court, 2009-present; has worked on occasion in Shelby County municipal courts, including as prosecutor; Army National Guard, airborne infantryman. Civic experience: Assistant scoutmaster, Boy Scouts; member, the Branch at Mission Hills Church in Alabaster. Top contributors: Thomas A. Decker, $20,000; Vic Smith, CPA P.C., $2,000; Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff and Brandt PAC, $2,000. Education: Jones School of Law, juris doctorate, 2000; master’s, Auburn University Montgomery, 1997; Troy State University, bachelor’s, 1993.

Jane Hampton (R)

Shelby County Board of Education Place 1

Jane Hampton

Date of birth: Dec. 7, 1948; age 67

Residence: Highland Park Drive, North Shelby County

Political experience: Shelby County Board of Education, Place 1, 2010-2016. Professional experience: Principal, Oak Mountain Elementary, 1997-2008; assistant principal, Inverness Elementary, 1990-1997; teacher, Inverness Elementary, 1983-1990;  teacher, Valley Elementary, 1971-1982. Civic experience: Shelby County Arts Council Board, 2010-present; Shelby County Education Foundation Board, 2015-present; Leadership Shelby County graduate, 2003; Education Liaison, Parent Advocates, Down Syndrome, 2007-08. Education: University of Montevallo, EdS, 1980; Administration, MEd, 1986; Administration, EdS, 1990; Auburn University, bachelor’s, 1971; University of Montevallo, MEd, 1972-1975.

Lori Frasure (R)

Shelby County District Court Judge, Place No. 1

Name: Lori Frasure

Date of birth: Dec. 23, 1972; age 43

Residence: Calera

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Private practice, 2003-present. Civic experience: None provided. Education: Cumberland School of Law, juris doctorate, 2003; University of Great Falls, master’s in human services, 1999; Western Carolina University, bachelor’s, 1995.

Tapeka Brown Fennell (D)

Jefferson County Deputy Treasurer

Tapeka Brown Fennell

Date of birth: January 1978, 38

Residence: Birmingham

Political Experience: None

Professional Experience: Treasurer, Alabama S.T.E.M. Education, 2016; ECA Accountancy, 2014-2016; analyst for Sirote & Permutt Mortgage Banking, 2007-2011; member of the National Association of Black Accountants, Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants, and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; Internal Revenue Service certified income tax preparer; United Way certified volunteer tax counselor for the elderly. Civic Experience: member, Faith Chapel Christian Center; member, The Junior League of Birmingham; volunteer, Junior Achievement of Birmingham; Wenonah High School Dragons civic honoree; parent auxiliary for the Hueytown Jaguars Community Football League; parent auxiliary for Highlands Day School; Miles College Student Assessment Roundtable Committee; representative, Miles College National Association of Black Accountants. Education: Attending Columbia Southern University master’s in business program; Miles College, bachelor’s of accounting magna cum laude, 2015; graduate, Houston County Science & Technology Vocational Center, 1996. Main Issues: If elected, Fennell wants to address financial transparency, accountability and stability, as well as, communicate with residents why certain decisions are being made. Campaign: Vote Tapeka Brown Fennell, Jefferson County Deputy Treasurer 2016

 

J. Timothy “Tim” Smith (R)

Circuit Court Judge, 18th Judicial Circuit, Place No. 4

Name: J. Timothy “Tim” Smith

Date of birth:  Nov. 20, 1955; age 60

Residence: Hoover

Political experience: None

Professional experience:  Private practice, more than 30 years; SafeHouse of Shelby County attorney, more than 25 years; member, Third Citizens’ Conference on the Alabama State Courts, 1995; member and group chair, Birmingham Bar’s Grievance Committee; former member and past president, Alabama State Bar Family Law Section; former member, executive committee of the Birmingham Bar’s Young Lawyer’s Section; former chairman, Solo/Small Section Firm of the Birmingham Bar, 2013; past chairman, Young Lawyers Speakers Bureau of the Birmingham Bar. Civic experience: Member, Birmingham Bar’s Volunteer Lawyers Program; former member, Alabama Center for Law and Civic Education board of directors; former member, Covenant House board of directors; member, Hoover Chamber of Commerce; former member, Epilepsy Foundation board of directors; former member, Magic City Harvest board of directors; former member, Greater Birmingham March of Dimes board of directors; former member, Alabaster Industrial Development Board; past president, Alabaster Chamber of Commerce. Education: Auburn University, bachelor’s 1974; Birmingham School of Law, juris doctorate,1974; graduate, National Institute of Trial Advocacy; graduate, Southern Trust School at Birmingham Southern College.

Sherry McClain (D)

Jefferson County Deputy Treasurer

Sherry McClain

Date of birth: October, 1962; 53

Residence: Brighton

Political Experience: Jefferson County deputy treasurer, 2013-present; member, State Democratic Executive Committee, Jefferson County Federation of Democratic Women, Jefferson County Democratic Conference, Alabama New South Coalition and Jefferson County New Citizen’s Coalition. Professional Experience: Jefferson County deputy treasurer, 2013-present; director of community affairs, Jefferson County Commission, 2009-2010; American Trust Corp., 2007-2009; city of Brighton, 2000-2007; MedPartners, 1995-2000; Amsouth Bank, 1980-1995. Civic Experience: Member, Shiloh Baptist Church; treasurer, Brighton School PTA. Education: First Realty School, 1993; University of Alabama at Birmingham, bachelor’s of accounting, 1984; attended Jefferson State Community College, 1980-1982. Main Issues: If re-elected, McClain wants to perform her duties professionally and effectively.

James R. “Jim” Kramer (R)

Shelby County District Court Judge, Place No. 1

Name: James R. “Jim” Kramer

Date of birth: Nov. 12, 1959; age 56

Residence: Alabaster

Political experience: Won election to the district court in 2004 and 2010; ran unsuccessfully for Alabaster mayor, 2000, and Alabaster City Council, 1992. Professional experience:  Shelby County District Court judge, 2004-present; president, Alabama Juvenile Judge’s Association, 2007-2008; child support referee for Shelby County, 2000-2005; contract attorney and guardian ad litem for the Juvenile Court of Shelby County, 1984-2005; prosecutor, city of Calera, 1992-2005; part-time municipal judge, city of Alabaster, 1999-2004; member and past president, Shelby County Bar Association;  member, Alabama Bar Association; member, National Association of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; member, National Association of Drug Court Professionals; member, state Joint Committee of Juvenile Judges and Probate Judges; past member, state Committee to Expedite Appeals in Juvenile Court Cases. Civic experience: Member, Buck Creek Masonic Lodge; member, Scottish Rite; past member, The Shriners; member and two-time trustee, First Baptist Church of Alabaster; chairman, county Children’s Policy Council; chairman,  Shelby County Drug-Free Coalition.

Ramona Rice (R)

Shelby County Board of Education, Place 1

Ramona Piland Rice

Date of birth: March 7, 1964;  age 51

Residence: Helena

Political experience: This is Rice’s first run for political office. Professional experience: Senior creative manager and designer, DST Health Solutions, October 2013- present; creative manager and designer, Oakstone Publishing, March 2000-Oct. 2013; creative manager and designer, University of Southern Mississippi, April 1990-March 2000. Civic experience: Decoding Dyslexia Alabama, State Founder, January 2013-present; Alabama Dyslexia Advisory Council, May 2015-present; Alabama Reading Association, chairman-Legislative Committee, November 2015-present; Pelham High School Band Boosters;  Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama;  Ad Federation of South Mississippi;  Council for Advancement and Support of Education; University & College Designers Association. Education: The University of Southern Mississippi, bachelor’s, 1989.

Chris Dunn (R)

Shelby County Commission, District 9

Chris Dunn

Date of birth: July 2, 1970; age 45

Residence: Chelsea

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Area manager, ChemTreat, 2013-present. Civic experience: None

Education: Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, University of Alabama, 1988-1994, graduate, Bibb County High School, 1988. Top contributor: Self, loans, $720.37

Main issues: If elected, the candidate wants to address education funding for Shelby County Schools.  

Robbie Hayes (R)

Shelby County Commission, District 9

Robert C. “Robbie” Hayes

Date of birth: April 16, 1961; age 54

Residence: Chelsea

Political experience: Shelby County Commission, District 9, 2005-present. Professional experience: Optometrist and owner, Hayes Eye Center in Chelsea, 1992-present. Civic experience: Board of directors, Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, 2006-present; sideline volunteer, Chelsea High School Football, 1991-present; member, South Shelby Chamber of Commerce, 2016; board of directors, Alabama Optometric Association, 1999-2002 and 2004-2007; president, Chelsea Kiwanis Club, 1998-2000 and 2006-2007; lay leader, Morningstar United Methodist Church, 2001-2002; president, Birmingham Area Optometric Association, 1997. Education: University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, doctorate of optometry, 1988; University of Alabama at Birmingham, bachelor’s degree in biology, 1984; graduate of Pelham High School, 1979. Top contributors: Issis and Sons Carpet, $500; Morrison, Spann LLC, $500; Mark S. Boardman, $400; Birmingham Auto PAC, $250; Teresa P. Petelos, $250; Pat Lynch, $250; Ramon J. Samaniego, $250; Lindsey J. Allison, attorney, $200; Randy A. Dempsey, attorney, $200.

Luke Lombardo (R)

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Lindsey Allison (R)

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Ron Griggs (R)

Shelby County Commission, District 4

Ron Griggs

Date of birth: April 1, 1952; age 63

Residence: Alabaster

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Producer, The Insurance Store in Alabaster, 2013-present; assistant principal and principal, Thompson High School, 1993-2005; administrative assistant and assistant principal, Shelby County High School, 1987-1993; teacher, coach, bus driver and administrative assistant, Pelham High School, 1977-1987; teacher, coach, bus driver, Thompson Middle School, 1975-1977. Civic experience: Member of First Baptist Church of Alabaster, 1993-present. Education: Certificate in education administration, University of Montevallo, 1987; master’s degree in education, University of Montevallo, 1980; bachelor’s degree in physical education, Samford University, 1970-1974; graduate, Geneva County High School, 1970. Top contributors: Self, loans, $4,900; Eddy Jones, $100. Main issues: If elected, the candidate wants to serve his community by working with the other Shelby County Commissioners to assist the Alabaster/Pelham area by blending local, state and federal government plans.

Gene Rowley (R)

Shelby County Commission, District 4

Gene Rowley

Date of birth: April 29, 1970; 45

Residence: Alabaster

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Senior code reviewer/system analyst, Xerox Corp., 2014-present; unmanned aerial vehicle operator, AAI Corp. (Textron Systems), 2009-2014; budget and finance NCO/comptroller, Alabama National Guard 20th Special Forces Group, 2001-2009; owner/voiceover talent, Gene Rowley Voiceover, 1989-present. Civic experience: Vice president/general manager, Alabaster Broadcasting & Community Radio nonprofit, 2013-present; ambassador, Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, 2014-present; master of ceremonies for numerous civic organizations and events, including Sav-A-Life Shelby’s Annual Banquet, Shelby District Eagle Scout Banquet and American Legion Vietnam 50th Anniversary; volunteer, Alabaster City Youth Soccer, 1999-2001; member, Matthew Blount American Legion Post 555, 2015-present; volunteer, Alabaster City School’s Sister School project, 2016; volunteer history teacher, Hope Christian School, 2014-2015. Education: Associate’s degree in applied science, Cochise College, 2009; pursuing bachelor’s degree in history, American Military University, 2009-present. Top contributors: Self, loans, $3,600; Time Honeycutt/AIPHA Orthopaedic, $250; Emmanuel Scozzaro, $200; Keith Arnold; $200; Robert Clark, $100; Kyle Hannah, $100; Kendra Axon, $100; Eric Fort, $100; Lee F. Miller, $100; Mark Graham, $100; Dr. Marty Lovvorn, $100.

Ward Williams (R)

Shelby County Commission, District 4

Ward Williams

Date of birth: Oct. 13, 1973; age 42

Residence: Alabaster

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Founder and executive director, Vineyard Family Services, 2007-present; associate pastor of youth and outreach, Inverness Vineyard Church, 2002-2007. Civic experience: Graduate, Leadership Shelby County, 2014; member,  Shelby County Children’s Policy Council, 2007-present; youth sports coach, YMCA and city of Alabaster, 2007-present; member, Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, 2007-present; member, South Shelby Chamber of Commerce, 2007-present; volunteer, Junior Achievement, 2012-present. Education: Southwest Texas State University, bachelor’s degree in speech communication, 1997; graduate of Corpus Christi Ray High School, 1992. Top contributors: Lynn Ross, $2,000; self, loans, $1,818.78; Me 2 Graphics LLC, in-kind advertising, $1,300; Alan and Jamie Wood, $500; Alton Yother, $300.

Statewide Amendment One

By Andrew Yeager – Primary voters going to the polls March 1 will see one statewide ballot measure to amend the Alabama Constitution.  Amendment One deals with retirement for future district attorneys and circuit clerks of the state. Currently those positions are part of Alabama’s supernumerary service system.  This amendment would allow the state to set up a new retirement program for district attorneys and circuit clerks elected or appointed after November 8, 2016.  The amendment not only authorizes that action, but according to a summary by the state’s Fair Ballot Commission, it also offers details about the new system.

Delegates and What They Do

Primary voters going to the polls March 1 will see one statewide ballot measure to amend the Alabama Constitution. Amendment One deals with retirement for future district attorneys and circuit clerks of the state.

Monica Agee (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Place 17

Monica Agee

Date of birth: January, 1962; age 54

Residence: Forestdale

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Private practice, Law Office of Monica Agee, 2000-present; U.S. Department of Commerce; Jefferson County Personnel Board; Berry Company; Big B Drugs; Birmingham Board of Education; U.S. Air Force; University of Alabama at Birmingham. Civic experience: Volunteer, American Red Cross; volunteer, Toys for Tots; volunteer, Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers and Public Service Committee; member, Minority Women’s Network. Education: Birmingham School of Law, juris doctorate, 1999; University of Alabama at Birmingham, bachelor’s in quantitative analysis, 1990. Top contributors: David Agee, $250; Amy Coleman, $100; Cornell Anderson, $100; Amy Anderson, $100; Bernice Davis, $100. Qualifications: Agee has practiced law for more than 15 years.

Elisabeth French (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 17

Elisabeth French

Date of birth: December, 1972; age 44

Residence: Birmingham

Political Experience: Jefferson County Circuit Judge Place 17, 2010-2016. Professional Experience: Incumbent Circuit Court Judge, 2010-2016; member, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee for the Alabama Supreme Court; The French Firm private practice, 1998-2010; former president, vice president, treasurer and secretary of the Alabama Lawyers Association, 2004-2008. Civic Experience: Member, University of Montevallo’s Foundation Board, 2008-2015; volunteer, Birmingham City Schools’ after-school program; former member, Children’s Dance Foundation board; provides Mock Trial Field Trips to students in Birmingham Schools; member of Living Stones Church. Education: Cumberland School of Law, juris doctorate, 1997; University of Montevallo, bachelor’s in political science and Spanish, 1993. Top Contributors: Environmental Litigation Group, PC, $10,000; Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC, $5500; Charlie Waldrep, $4,000; Newsome Law LLC, $6,000; Arthur Edge III P.C., $5,000; David H. Marsh, $5,000.

Joe Basgier (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 11

Joe Basgier

Date of birth: October, 1974; 42

Residence: Vestavia Hills

Political Experience: None

Professional Experience: Private practice, Bloomston & Basgier, 2004-present; attorney for the Police Benevolent Association; executive committee member, Birmingham Bar Association; president of the criminal justice section, Birmingham Bar; prosecutor, Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, 2004. Civic Experience: Board member for the YMCA; member of the Shades Valley Rotary Club; member of the NAACP; member of the Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church; former member Multiple Sclerosis Leadership Society. Education: University of Alabama Law School, juris doctorate, 2004; James Madison University, bachelor’s degree. Top Contributors: Gladys Campbell, $3,000; James F. Liddon, $2,500; Winston, Winston, Jenkins & Chastain, $2,500; Kenneth Hobbs, $750; Brannon Manor, $500. Qualifications: Basgier said his background in areas of law such as white collar crime, criminal defense and gaming law provide him extensive experience and allow him to have a fair and balanced approach to the bench.

Javan Joielle Patton (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Place 4

Javan J. Patton

Date of birth: May 1982;  age 34

Residence: Birmingham

Political Experience: None

Professional Experience: Assistant city attorney for Birmingham, 2011-present; Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, 2009-2011; prosecutor with Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, 2007-2009. Civic Experience: Director of the Liturgical Dance Ministry at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church; volunteer for Sisters Inspiring Sisters Through the Arts; social event co-chair with the Alabama School of Fine Arts Alumni Association; board member of the Alabama School of Fine Arts Foundation; board member with the Railroad Park Foundation; former member of The Birmingham Zoo Junior Board; former member of the UAB Minority Health and Research Committee Young Professional board; member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Education: Thurgood Marshall School of Law, juris doctorate, 2007; University of Alabama, bachelor’s in political science, 2003. Top Contributors: Jarvis E. Patton, Jr., $16,140; V. Michael Bivins, $3,000; Patton EM INC, $2,750; Barry Walker LLC, $1,500; Dudley C. Reynolds, $1,500. Qualifications: Patton has tried more than 50 cases and has represented citizens in Montgomery as well as Jefferson County.

Charles “Chuck” Price II (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Place 4

Charles “Chuck” Price II

Date of birth: October 1976; age 39

Residence: Birmingham

Political Experience: None

Professional Experience: In private practice; litigation associate/shareholder, Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker LLC, 2005-2014; law clerk, Alabama Securities Commission, 2004-2005; law clerk, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Bernard Harwood, 2003-2004; member, executive board, Magic City Bar Association, 2014-present; Alabama Super Lawyers Rising Star in Civil Litigation, 2013-present; member, executive board, Alabama Lawyers Association, 2009-present; secretary, National Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, 2012-2015; member, Birmingham Bar Association Executive Committee, 2014. Civic Experience: UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center Young Professionals Board, 2015-present. Education: Creighton University School of Law, juris doctorate, 2003; Morehouse College, bachelor of arts in English Literature, 1999. *This information has been corrected from the original version. Top Contributors: 1st Choice Resources Group LLC, $1,500; Derrick Mills, $1,250; Andrew P. Campbell, $1,000; Cunningham Bounds LLC,  Environment Litigation Group, PC, $1,000; FGA PAC, $1,000.

Minnie L. Tunstall (D)

District Attorney, 10th Judicial Circuit, Bessemer Division

Minnie L. Tunstall

Date of birth: June 30, 1959; age 56

Residence: Bessemer

Political experience: Ran for District Court Judge of 10th Judicial Circuit, Place 19, 2006. Professional experience: Practicing attorney since 1993, including time spent in private practice, as an assistant district attorney in Bessemer area, 2010-2013, and as a staff attorney with Metro Birmingham Legal Services. Civic experience: Pro bono legal work with the Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program and with various churches; former mentor with the P.I.N.K. program; worked with Habitat for Humanity through Faith Chapel Christian Center. Education: Birmingham School of Law, juris doctorate, 1992; bachelor’s in psychology, University of Alabama in Huntsville, 1982. Top contributors: Larry Mann, $500; Fabian Beavers, $400; Vanessa Searight, $200; Lee Vester Akins, $150; Horace W. Kynard, Steve Martin and Edward R. Reynolds, $100 each.

Lynneice Olive-Washington (D)

District Attorney, 10th Judicial Circuit, Bessemer Division

Name: Lynneice Olive-Washington

Date of birth: December, 27, 1967; age 48

Residence: Bessemer

Political experience: Ran unsuccessfully for District Judge, Place 10, 2010; presiding judge, Bessemer Municipal Court, 2011-present. Professional experience: Presiding judge, Bessemer Municipal Court, 2011 – present; appellate prosecutor, Irondale Municipal Court, 2013-present; hearing officer, Jefferson County Personnel Board, 2013-present; solo practitioner, 2010-present; assistant district attorney, Bessemer District, 2002-2010; solo practitioner, 1996-2002. Education: Miles Law School, juris doctorate, 1995; bachelor’s in criminal justice and corrections, Auburn University Montgomery, 1990; graduate, A.H. Parker High School, 1986. Civic experience: Member and past president, Bessemer Rotary Club; board member, Girls Inc., 2010-present; mentor, Bessemer Business Professional Women’s Club’s P.I.N.K. program, 2009-present; member, Domestic Violence Task Force, Bessemer, 2011-present; member, Children’s Hospital Committee for the Future program, 2012; advisory board member, Brenda’s Brown Bosom Buddies cancer awareness organization; recipient, NAACP’s Wonderful Outstanding Women Award, 2015; recipient, Woman of Achievement award, Bessemer Business and Professional Women’s Club, 2014; recipient, A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club’s Pillars of Character Excellence: Fairness Award, 2014; Rotarian of the Year, Bessemer Rotary Club, 2014;

Top Contributors: Y Catering, $1,000 in-kind services; SNG Signs, loans, $900; Constance and Jessie Olive, cash and in-kind services, $700; Friends to Elect Lynneice Washington, $600; Greg Garnette, Ronald C. Hatcher and Jamie Terry, each $500. Main issues: Implement a program to educate students about how laws can affect them.

Lonnie A. Washington Sr. (D)

District Attorney, 10th Judicial Circuit, Bessemer Division

Lonnie A. Washington Sr.

Political experience: Appointed to the Alabama State University trustees by Gov. Robert Bentley, 2014. Professional experience: Private practice, co-founder of Washington, Lloyd & Henderson PC, 2001-present; Municipal Court judge for several area cities; network attorney for the Alabama Education Association; associate member, Jefferson County Personnel Board; general counsel to the Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention. Education: Cumberland School of law, 1992; bachelor’s, Alabama State University, 1988. Top contributors: Self, loan, $1757.50; Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union Council Cope Fund, $1,500; Milton McGregor, $1,250; United Mine Workers of America, $1,000; Darryl Bender, $1,000. Main Issues: Washington on his campaign website states that his objectives if elected would be to get tough on violent crime, provide outreach and education to the Bessemer Cut-Off community, cooperate with all public safety officials in the area and develop and coordinate rehabilitation programs for non-violent offenders.

Charles Todd Henderson (D)

District Attorney, 10th Circuit, Jefferson County

Name: Charles Todd Henderson

Date of birth: July 18, 1964; age 51

Residence: Pleasant Grove

Political experience: Ran for Jefferson County Sheriff, 2014; executive committee member, Jefferson County Democratic Party, 2014-present; member, Jefferson County Progressive Democratic Council. Professional experience: Private practice, 2003-present; accredited veterans attorney, 2013-present; special counsel to the Mayor of Brighton, 2014-2015; general counsel, Veterans Network Community, 2014-present; general counsel and secretary, FERS Group Inc., 2014- present; educator and coach, Jefferson County and Montgomery schools, 2009-2015; judicial law clerk, 18th Judicial Circuit, 2002; police officer, Lipscomb, 2002; deputy sheriff, Jefferson County, 2000-2001 and 1988-1993; agent, Drug Enforcement Administration, 1996-1998;  police officer/evidence tech, Fairfield Police Department, 1993-1996. Civic experience: Advisory board member, Village Creek Human and Environmental Justice Society, 2014-present; advisory board member, Vietnam Veterans & Associates Inc., 2015-present; Metropolitan Planning Organization-Transportation Citizens Committee member, 2016-present; member of several committees of Rev Birmingham; member, United Fellowship Breakfast Forum; National Eagle Scout Association. Education: Juris doctorate, Birmingham School of Law, 2002; teacher certification (9-12), East Carolina University, 2010; various legal training programs, 1991-1997; master’s in forensic science, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1991; bachelor’s Samford University, 1987. Top Contributors: Speed PAC, $7,500; Nathan H. Wilson, $1,500; J. Wayne Wilson, Robin A. Brungart, Church Transportation, R. Parker Griffith, Jared T. Henderson, Iron Workers Local Union No.

Raymond L. Johnson Jr. (D)

District Attorney, 10th Circuit, Jefferson County

Name: Raymond Johnson Jr.

Date of birth: May 4, 1951; age 64

Residence: Birmingham

Political experience: State executive committee member, Alabama Democratic Party. Professional experience: Private practice and shareholder, The Johnson Law Firm, LLC, Birmingham, 2004-present; adjunct professor, Cumberland School of Law, 1988-present; shareholder, Thomas, Means, Gillis & Seay, 2000-2004; assistant U.S. attorney, Birmingham, 1991-2000;  general counsel, Citizens Federal Savings Bank, Birmingham, 1988-1991; past president, Magic City Bar Association; former executive committee member, Birmingham Bar Association; attorney, alternate defense counsel, Los Angeles, 1984-1988; attorney, Johnson & Johnson Law Firm, Beverly Hills, California, 1979-1984. Civic experience: Past president, Young Men’s Business Club; former board of trustees member, Legal Aid Society of Birmingham; former branch president, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Los Angeles; graduate of Leadership Birmingham, 1987; member, Alabama Association for Justice; member Alabama Lawyers Association; member, Alabama Criminal Defense Association. Education: Howard University School of Law, juris doctorate, 1976; bachelor’s, Howard University, 1973. Top Contributors: The Roy Law Firm, $300; Ronald A. Davison and Kittren J. Walker, $250; Samuel Fisher and The Cooper Law Firm, $200; Julliette Sullivan, $150; Jimmie L. Brown, $100.

Rukeya “Rudy” McAdory McCullough (D)

Jefferson County District Court Place 10

Rukeya “Rudy” McAdory McCullough

Age: 35

Residence: Hueytown

Political experience: None. Professional experience: Managerial attorney/owner, The McAdory Firm LLC, 2006-2009 and 2011-present; assistant district attorney, Fourth Judicial Circuit, 2009-2011; contract attorney, YWCA Central Alabama, 2006. Civic experience: Birmingham Museum of Art Junior Patron. Education: Cumberland School of Law, Samford University, juris doctorate, 2005; University of Alabama, bachelor’s of science, 2001;  Fairfield High School, advanced academic diploma 1998. Top contributors: No itemized contributions declared.

Debra Bennett Winston (D)

Jefferson County District Court Place 10

Debra Bennett Winston

Age: 64

Residence: Hueytown

Political experience: Currently municipal judge, cities of Midfield and Fairfield. Professional experience: Municipal judge, 11 years; private practice, 25 years; member Alabama League of Municipalities; previously served as a substitute circuit judge in Jefferson County. Civic experience: Grace House, Sickle Cell Foundation, Midfield Chamber of Commerce, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, NAACP. Education: Juris doctorate, Southern University Law Center, Baton Rouge; Bachelor’s degree, UAB, 1984;. Qualifications: She has served as a municipal judge for 11 years and has owned her own law business.

William A. “Tony” Bell Jr. (D)

Jefferson County District Court Place 4

William A. “Tony” Bell Jr.

Date of birth: March 2, 1976; age 40

Residence: Birmingham

Political experience: Municipal judge, city of Lipscomb 2011-2012; Municipal judge, city of Irondale, 2012-present. Professional experience: Private practice attorney focusing on criminal law, 2007-present; municipal judge, Irondale, 2012-present; municipal prosecutor, city of Lipscomb, 2012-present; municipal prosecutor, Brighton, 2012-present; municipal judge, Lipscomb, 2011-2012; public defender, city of Homewood, 2009-present; public defender, city of Fultondale, 2008-present; professor, Miles College School of Law, 2011; assistant district attorney, Milwaukee County Wisconsin Domestic Violence Unit, 2005-2007, Investment representative, SouthTrust Securities Inc., 1999-2001. Civic experience: Volunteer, Sickle Cell Foundation, 2005-present; executive committee member, Boy Scouts of America Greater Alabama Council, 2015-present; volunteer, Salvation Army, 2014; Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; board member, Birmingham History Center, 2011-present; volunteer, Junior Achievement of Greater Birmingham, 1999-2000. Education: University of Alabama School of Law, juris doctorate, 2004; University of Alabama, bachelor’s,1998; Ramsay High School Advanced Diploma, 1994. Top contributors: Law Offices of Terrence A. Bradley, $2,000; Michael Choy, $1,000; Robert W. Dozier, $1,000; Johnny Givens Jr., $1,000; United General Contractors Inc., $1,000.

Clotele Hardy “C.H.” Brantley (D)

Jefferson County District Court, Place 4

Clotele Hardy “C.H.” Brantley

Age: 56

Residence: Birmingham

Political experience: Appointed January 2007-present, senior trial referee, Jefferson County Family Court, Birmingham Division. Unsuccessful race for Jefferson County Family Court, Place 3, 2012

Professional experience: Senior trial referee, Jefferson County Family Court, 2007-present; project coordinator, UAB TASC Another Chance Program, coordinating re-entry services for women upon their release from prison, 2005-2007; general private practice, including appointment as assistant attorney general to prosecute child abuse and neglect cases on behalf of the state, 2002-2005; staff attorney, Legal Aid Society of Birmingham, 2001-2002; private law practice including criminal, family, bankruptcy and probate law, 1999-2001; UAB TASC Program, case manager, 1990-1992; 1994-1995. Civic experience: Recipient, NAACP’s Wonderful Outstanding Women Award, 2015; recipient, Birmingham Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta’s Women of Incredible Influence, 2015; recipient, Black Achievers Award, Attorney of the Year, presented by Oliver Robinson Foundation and Regions Financial Corp., 2014; member, NAACP; board member, Jimmie Hale Mission, 2004; board president, Impact Family Counseling; board member, Shepherd’s Fold Ministries, Alabama Prison Fellowship; member, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

Education: Miles Law School, juris doctorate, 1999; bachelor’s of science, UAB, 1987. Top contributors: The Hon. Darryl N. Bender, $2,000; Kinder Law Firm, $900; Hazzard Law Firm, $550; Hardy Enterprises, LLC, $500; The Earle Law Firm, $500. Qualifications: Brantley has been serving on the bench in Jefferson County Family Court as senior trial referee, where she hears and decides cases involving children and their families.

Ron Crumpton (D)

U.S. Senate

Ron Crumpton

Date of birth: April 6, 1968; age 47

Residence: Pelham

Political experience: Ran for state Senate, 2014. Professional experience: Executive director, Alabama Patients’ Rights Coalition, 2011-present; executive director, Alabama Safe Access Project, 2013-present; executive director, Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition, 2010-2013; legislative liaison, Alabama Compassionate Care, 2009-2010. Civic experience: None. Education: Attended University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2009-2013; attended Jefferson State Community College, 2007-2009; graduate of Pelham High School, 1986. Top contributors: Jennifer Marsden, $500; Steve Crunk, $200; Melva Strange Foster, $100; Michael Pruett, $100; James L. Ramirez, $100; Catherine Rotan, $100; Amy Smith, $100; Mary Spears, $100; Rex Tucker, $100; and James Williams, $100.

Charles Nana (D)

U.S. Senate

Charles Nana

Date of birth: April 22, 1965; age 50

Residence: Hoover

Political experience: None. Professional experience: Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, WASALOS Consulting, 1991-present; operational excellence consultant, private sector, 1991-present. Civic experience: Referee, NCAA Soccer, 2009-present. Education: Master’s degree in business administration, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, 2001; Catholic University of America, master’s degree in biomedical engineering, 1994; Howard University, bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, 1992. Top contributors: No contributions reported.

Roderick “Rod” Evans (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 25

Roderick “Rod” Evans

Date of birth: Aug. 10, 1985; age 30

Residence: Bessemer

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Associate attorney, Paden & Paden P.C., 2010-present; clerk, Davenport, Lavetter & Cleckler P.C., 2009-2010; clerk, 10th Judicial Circuit for Judge Caryl P. Privett, 2009; assistant & volunteer coordinator, Alabama Center for Law & Civic Education Project, 2007-2008. Civic experience: Member, Bessemer Chamber of Commerce board, 2013-present; treasurer, Bessemer Area YMCA board, 2014-present; LECP project assistant/volunteer coordinator, Alabama Center for Law and Civic Education, 2007-2008; member, volunteer, worship leader and small group leader, Mountaintop Community Church, 2009-present; member and speaker  Regional Leadership Institute Inc.

Education: Cumberland School of Law, juris doctorate, 2010; Samford University, bachelor’s in political science, 2007. Top contributors: Paden & Paden P.C., $1,500; Starnes Davis Florie LLP, $1,000; H. Wheeler, $1,000; Robert B. Pace, $500; Patricia Murray, $500

Qualifications: Evans said he believes it is important for people to have a fair chance when they enter the courtroom. He has pursued cases in municipal, probate, district, circuit and appellate state courts and in federal courts and said that experience, along with his work in the community, give him a fresh and dynamic perspective for the bench.

Marcus Bowman (R)

U.S. Senate

Marcus Bowman

Date of birth: Sept. 1, 1973;  age 42

Residence: Daphne

Political experience: Chair, Baldwin County Young Republicans, 2013-2014; executive committee member, Baldwin County Republican Party, 2013-present;

Professional experience: Owner, Flyover Solutions, 2015-2016; account executive, Colonial Life/Reeves Agency, 2013-2014; compliance manager, Standard Furniture Manufacturing, 2012-2013; research director, International Access Corporation, 2004-2012. Civic experience: Chair, Jubilee Kids Triathlon, 2014 and 2015; treasurer, Eastern Shore Triathlon Club, 2013-2015;  vice president/president, Finance Club, Iowa State University, 1995-1997; student president, School of Public Policy, George Mason University, 2003-2005; co-founder/co-chair, Young Professionals in Transportation, 2008-2009. Education: Bachelor’s degree in finance/economics, Iowa State University, 1996; master’s degree in public policy, George Mason University, 2005. Top contributors: Self, credit card expense, $4,108; Brian Kerkelhamer, $750; Robert Bowman, $500; Lindsey Hutto, $250.

Pamela Wilson Cousins (D)

Jefferson County District Court Place 5

Pamela Wilson Cousins

Age: 56

Residence: Gardendale

Political experience: Ran for Circuit Court in Bessemer Cutoff, 2010. Professional experience: Private practice, 1993-present; attorney, Reid & Thomas, Anniston, 1992-1993; previously paralegal for L. Dan Turberville  P.C., Maynard, Cooper, Frierson & Gale P.C., and Wiggins & Quinn/Gordon, Silberman, all of Birmingham. Civic experience: Participated in voter registration drives and free legal clinics;  volunteer for Habitat for Humanity; former member Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; member, Living Stones Temple Church; volunteer in several Birmingham Bar Association programs, including volunteer lawyers program, mentoring and alternative dispute program for high school students. Education: Birmingham School of Law, juris doctorate, 1990; Alabama A&M University, master’s in personnel administration, 1984; Tennessee State University, bachelor’s, 1981. Top contributors: Self, loans, $2,410; Della Johnson, $1,576; John Jeffries, $1,500; Cluis Cox, $625; The Larkin Law Firm, $500.

Reginald L. Jeter (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 25

Reginald Jeter

Date of birth: May 30, 1978; age 37

Residence: Hoover

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Trial attorney, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., 2014-present; partner and attorney, Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, 2004-2014;  clerk, Jefferson County District’s Attorney Office, Bessemer Division, 2003-2004. Civic experience: Board member, Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority, 2013-present; board member, Hoover Chamber of Commerce, 2008-present; junior board member, Alabama/Gulf Coast Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 2006-2008; award recipient, Birmingham Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 award, 2014; award recipient, “Birmingham’s Finest,” Alabama Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation,2012. Education: University of Alabama, juris doctorate, 2004; UAB, M.B.A., 2009; Samford University, bachelor’s, 2001. Top contributors: Self, loan, $4,384.21; Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, $2,000; Ifediba Law Group LLC, $1,500. *This information has been corrected from the original version.

John Martin (R)

U.S. Senate

John Martin

Date of birth: Aug. 26, 1956; age 59

Residence: Dothan

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Senior aviation analyst, Booz/Allen/Hamilton, 2015-present; senior training developer, Threat Tec LLC, 2014-2015; learning architect senior professional, Computer Sciences Corporation, 2010-2014; pilot, RQ-7B (Shadow), Aircraft Armament, Inc., 2009-2010; base pilot supervisor, Air Evac Lifeteam, 2008-2009; president/chief executive officer/quality management consultant, QST Industrial Consultants, 2006-2009; training developer/instructor, Ft. Rucker, 1998-2008; instructor pilot/personnel proponent systems manager, U.S. Army, 1974-1996. Civic experience: None

Education: Graduate, Grenada High School, 1974; attended Troy State University, 1984-1987. Top contributors: Self, loan, $5,044.38; Raymond Nix, $500; DeWayne Rittenhouse, $100.

Perryn Suzanne Carroll (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 22

Perryn Carroll

Date of birth: June 24, 1965; age 50

Residence: Mountain Brook

Political experience: Ran for Jefferson County Circuit Court judge, 2014. Professional experience: Clerk, Supreme Court of Alabama, 1990-1991; private practice specializing in civil litigation, 1991-present. Civic experience: Board member and volunteer, Jimmie Hale Mission; board member, Aletheia House; board member, Joint Commission on Homelessness for Jefferson County; member, American Cancer Society Hope Gala Committee; volunteer, Dream Center; volunteer, Samaritan’s Place; volunteer, Central Park Recreation Center; volunteer, Meals on Wheels; teacher, fourth-grade girls’ Bible study at West End Academy; teacher, Neighborhood Academy at the Ensley Recreation Center; member, Faith + Action = Justice. Education: UAB, bachelor’s degree, 1987; Cumberland School of Law, juris doctorate, 1990. Top contributors: Self, loan, $4,381; David H. Marsh, $2,500; Andrew P. Campbell, $2,000; Thomas E. Badley, $2,000; Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis, LLC, $2,000; Holt, Mussleman, Morgan & Alvis, Attorneys, $1,500; Shunnarah Injury Lawyers, $1,200.

Tamara Harris Johnson (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 22

Tamara Harris Johnson

Date of birth: No age provided

Residence: Birmingham

Political experience: Ran for Jefferson County Circuit Civil Court, 2012; ran for U.S. Congress, 7th Congressional District, 2014. Professional experience: Private practice, 2012-present; executive counsel, Fulton County (Georgia) District Attorney, 2011-2012; private practice, 2008 -2011; adjunct professor, Cumberland Law School, 2005-2008; national legal adviser, The Girl Friends Inc., 2005-2007; national legal adviser, Jack & Jill of America Inc., 2006 -2010; city attorney, Birmingham, 2000-2007; Alabama Bar examiner, 2000-2004; associate, Gorham & Waldrep, P.C., 1998-2000; general counsel and executive director of human resources, Birmingham City Schools, 1997-1998; deputy district attorney, Jefferson County, 1990-1997; trial attorney, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1988-1990; deputy city attorney, Los Angeles, 1985-1988; partner, Johnson & Johnson Law Offices, Los Angeles, 1984-1985; law clerk, Department of Water & Power, Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, 1982-1984; associate, Patmon & Young, P.C., Detroit, 1981; associate general Counsel, NAGE/IBPO/AFGE, Washington, D.C., 1978-1979; law clerk, Associate Judge William S. Thompson, Superior Court, D.C., 1977-1978. Civic experience: Member, Leadership Birmingham Members’ Council, 2010-2016; member and former officer, The Links, 1978-present; board member, Alabama School of Fine Arts Foundation, 2003-2012; master of the bench, Birmingham Inns of Court, 2001-2014; member, The Women’s Network, 2002-2008; board member, the Crisis Center, 1998-2001; graduate, Leadership Alabama, 2000; board member, Legal Services of Metro Birmingham, 1994-1997; volunteer, The Dannon Project, Pathways, YWCA and Literacy Council; member, Sixth Avenue Baptist Church. Education: Howard University Law School, juris doctorate, 1977; Spelman College, bachelor’s, 1974. Top contributors: Self, loan $8,319, Farris, Riley & Pitt, $500; Paul Gardner, $250; Dr. Ross Gardner, $250.

Yusuf (Jeffery Hood) Olufemi (D)

Circuit Court – 10th Judicial Circuit Bessemer Division, Place 25

Yusuf (Jeffery Hood) Olufemi

Date of birth: August 1952; age 64

Residence: Bessemer

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Owner and founder, The Law Center for Civil and Criminal Justice, 1990-present; U.S. District Court Middle District of Alabama, 1992; firm of Newton and May, 1990; U.S. District Court Northern District of Alabama, 1988; Birmingham Area Legal Services, 1986-1987. Civic experience: Mentor, Big Brother program; member, St. Peter’s the Apostle Catholic Church; member, NAACP; member, Bessemer Chamber of Commerce; member, National and Local Alabama A&M University Alumni Chapter; member, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Education: Miles Law School, juris doctorate summa cum laude, 1988; Alabama A&M, master’s of science; University of Alabama at Huntsville, bachelor’s of science; Alabama A&M University, bachelor’s of science. Top contributors: Nailah Olufemi, $2620; Ronald Meredith, $1,500; Cassandra Kelker, $800; Nailah Olufemi, $620; David Herring, $500; Edward May, $500.

Alaric May (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 26

Alaric May

Date of birth: June 13, 1970; age 45

Residence: Pinson

Political experience: Member, State of Alabama Democratic Executive Committee, 2006-2010 . Professional experience: Private practice since 1996; founding partner of May Law Firm LLC. Civic experience: Member, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; member, First Ebenezer Baptist Church and its Prison Ministry, Nursing Home Ministry and Children’s Ministry; youth and group adviser, Jefferson County Youth Advisory Council; creator and facilitator of “Know Your Rights, or NO RIGHTS, It’s an Emergency Situation” seminars and workshops. Education: University of Alabama, bachelor’s, 1992; University of Florida, juris doctorate, 1995. Top contributors: Self, loan, $12, 475; Griffin Law Firm, $1,000; Christopher Burrell, $1,000; The Earle Law Firm, $500; Darryl Bender, $500.

Jim Bonner (R)

Alabama Board of Education, District 7

Name: Jim Bonner

Date of birth: June 8, 1953; age 62

Residence: Marion County

Political experience: Ran for Alabama House of Representatives District 17, 2014; ran for Alabama Senate District 6, 2010; delegate to RNC for Gingrich, 2012. Professional experience: 30-year classroom teacher. Education: Master’s, University of North Alabama,; bachelor’s, Athens State University. Civic experience: Shriner

Contributors: None reported. Qualifications: Bonner has been an educator in Alabama for 30 years and said he is running a one-issue campaign, “Why Johnny can’t read.” Bonner said he is dedicated to increasing reading levels for children in Alabama.

Shera Craig Grant (D)

Jefferson County District Court Place 5

Shera Grant

Age: 38

Residence: Birmingham

Political experience: Appointed District Court judge, Place 5, on Jan. 8, 2016. Professional experience: District Court Judge, Place 5, January 2016-present; deputy public defender, Jefferson County, 2013-2016; managing attorney, The Grant Firm LLC, 2011-2013; prosecutor promoted  to chief assistant district attorney, DeKalb County, Georgia, 2004-2010; adjunct professor, Alabama State University, 2008-2010; adjunct professor, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, 2007-2009; assistant city solicitor, Atlanta, 2002-2004, assistant solicitor general, Fulton County, Georgia, 2003. Civic experience: Vestavia Hills Board of Education member, 2015-2016; Leadership Vestavia Hills Board of Directors member, 2014-present; Help the Hills Committee member, 2014-present; Rape Crisis facilitator, 2007-2010; Create Your Dreams volunteer facilitator, 2007-2010; The Women’s Network member. Education: Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University, juris doctorate, 2002; Alabama State University, bachelor’s in computer information systems, 1999.

Ronnie Dixon (R)

Jefferson County Board of Education Place 1:

Ronnie Dixon

Date of Birth: Jan. 10, 1958; age 58

Residence: Pinson

Political experience: Jefferson County constable 2012 – present; also ran for Jefferson County Commission, 2010 and Jefferson County GOP executive committee, 2010. Professional experience: City manager, city of Clay, 2012-present; Dixon Properties Inc. 1993-present; TSC Inc. 1983-2012; AT&T 1976-1983. Civic experience: Executive director, Clay-Pinson Chamber of Commerce, 2010-present; executive director, Alabama Butterbean Festival, 2010-present; Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Commission, 1999-2009; Southern Baptist deacon, 1990-present, director Christian Light Foundation 1994-2006. Education: High School graduate, 1976, career certifications from the University of Alabama, Auburn University and the University of North Alabama, 1976-present.

Jonathan McConnell (R)

U.S. Senate

Jonathan McConnell

Date of birth: April 9, 1982; age 33

Residence: Homewood

Political experience: None

Professional experience: President and chief executive officer, Meridian Global Maritime Security Firm, 2009-present; infantry officer, U.S. Marine Corps, 2004-2008. Civic experience: Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner, 2004; charter member, Jesse Andrews Jr. Chapter of the Marine Corps League, 2011-present; member, American Legion, 2013-present; member, ASIS professional security organization, 2013-present; chairman, ASIS International Chapter 117, 2014-2015; member, Infraguard security organization, 2013-2015; member, City of Hope Church, 2013-2015; sponsor, Distinguished Young Women of Mobile County, 2014; sponsor, Halo for Freedom charity, 2014-present; member, Military Officers Association of America, 2015-present; member, Valleydale Baptist Church, 2015-present; founder, Promise of Protection nonprofit, 2015-present; fundraiser, Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2015; member, Brute Krulack Marine Corps League, 2016. Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration, Auburn University, 2004; juris doctorate, University of Alabama School of Law, 2010. Top contributors: Self, loans, $291,498.02; Meridian Global Consulting, $10,000; Bee Yen Png, $8,100; Winston M. Ashurst II, $8,100; Melissa Ashurst, $7,719. Main issues: If elected, the candidate wants to cut government spending and regulation to secure the American Dream for the next generation and keep the nation safe.

Donna J. Beaulieu (R)

Alabama Supreme Court, Associate Justice Place 3

Name: Donna Beaulieu

Date of birth: April 4, 1968; age 47

Residence: Calera

Political experience: Ran for Shelby County Circuit Judge, 2004. Professional experience: Private practice, 1997-present; legal secretary, Jim Pino & Associates, 1989-1994. Civic experience: Member, BamaCarry, which bills itself as “Alabama’s only ‘No Compromise’ gun rights group.”; member, the National Rifle Association. Education: University of Alabama at Birmingham, bachelor’s, 1993; Cumberland School of Law, juris doctorate, 1997. Top contributors: Joannie Taylor, $1,000; Phillip Bahakel, $500.

Donna Pike (R)

Jefferson County Board of Education, Place 1

Donna Pike

Political experience: President pro tem, Irondale City Council; elected in 2012. Professional experience: Transportation specialist, Jefferson County schools, 26 years; Regions Bank, retired. Education: Attended Jefferson State Community College. Main Issue: Pike says on her campaign web site that being an employee of the schools for 26 years gave her insight into the challenges school leaders face, and she vows that, if elected, she would work to improve the schools. Campaign: http://www.votedonnapike.com/

 

Shadrack McGill (R)

U.S. Senate

Shadrack McGill

Date of birth: Nov. 6, 1975;  age 40

Residence: Woodville

Political experience: State senator, 2010-2014. Professional experience: Owner/operator, MC Design, 2010-present; owner/operator H.S.S. Machine and Hydraulics, 2000-2010. Civic experience: None. Education: Attended Northeast Alabama Community College, 1998; graduate of Paint Rock Valley High School, 1994.

Michael Streety (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 26

Michael Streety

Date of birth: April 27, 1970; age 45

Residence: Pinson

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Deputy district attorney (senior trial attorney), Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, 2004-present; state probation/parole officer, Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, 2002-2004; deputy sheriff, Jefferson County, 1996-2002. Civic experience: Veteran, United States Army Reserves; member, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity; board member, Fit for Life mentorship initiative, 2007 . Education: Birmingham School of Law, juris doctorate, 2002; Miles College, bachelor’s in English, 1994. Top contributors: Self, loan, $12,850; self, in-kind services, $2,399; Bulle LLC, $1,500; The Reville Law Firm, $500; Milner Family LLC, $500; Houser Oil Inc., $500. *This information has been corrected from the original version.

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R)

Public Service Commission President

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh

Date of birth: March 10, 1966; age 49

Residence: Montgomery

Political experience: President, Public Service Commission, 2012-present; Place 1 representative, Public Service Commission, 2010-2012; chairman, Alabama Republican Party, 2005-2007; ran for state treasurer, 2002. Professional experience: Co-owner, Cavanaugh Bradley Animal Hospital; co-owner, Conservative Solutions; restaurant owner; deputy chief of staff, Office of Gov. Bob Riley; senior adviser, Office of Governor Bob Riley, 2007. Civic experience: State director, Citizens for a Sound Economy; member, First Baptist Church of Montgomery. Education: Auburn University, bachelor’s degree, 1989; Jefferson Davis High School graduate, 1984. Top contributors: Drummond Company Inc., $50,000; PRIDE PAC II, $30,000; T-TOWN PAC II, $30,000; Alabama ACRE, $10,000; NUCOR PAC, $10,000; Inverness Properties, $10,000.

Aaron L. Dettling (R)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 25

Aaron Dettling

Date of birth: Feb. 15, 1973; age 43

Residence: Hoover

Political experience: None

Professional experience: Solo practitioner at Aaron L. Dettling L.L.C., 2014-present; associate (2002-2005) and partner (2006-2014), Balch & Bingham, L.L.P.; associate, Hand Arendall, L.L.C., 1999-2002; law clerk for U.S. District Judge W. B. Hand of the Southern District of Alabama, 1997-1999 . Civic experience: Member, The Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies; member, Auburn University Montgomery Center for Business advisory board, the Center for Corporate Equality Technical Advisory Committee, the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce and Faith Presbyterian Church. Education: Washington & Lee University School of Law, juris doctorate, 1997; Vanderbilt University, bachelor’s, 1994; graduate, Escambia Academy, 1990. Top contributors: Self, loan, $4,500; self, donation, $3,400; Infomedia, Inc., $2,500; Charles R. Dettling, $1,000; Harry Risher, $500; American Printing Co., $425.

Rhea Tays Fulmer (R)

Alabama Board of Education, District 7

Rhea Tays Fulmer

Date of birth: September, 1957; age 58

Residence: Killen

Political experience: Lauderdale County Commissioner, 2008-2012; lost re-election bid in 2012; volunteer, Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign in Lauderdale County. Professional experience: Owner/photographer, Rhea Fulmer Photography, 1998-2008; account executive, Courier Journal, 2001-2003; Westat, professional field interviewer for current Medicare beneficiary survey; pharmaceutical sales representative, MMD, New York; real estate agent and appraiser, Don Behel Realty & Auction, Killen. Civic experience: Counselor, Shoals Area Citizens for Life, 1985. Education: Alabama Local Government Training Institute Graduate Program, Auburn University Center for Governmental Services, 2010; graduate of Millington Central High School, Millington, Tennessee, 1975; attended Brooks High School, Killen, 1971-1974; Shoals School of Business, Alabama real estate license; Alabama Real Estate Institute, real estate appraisal license. Top contributors: Rhea Tays Fulmer, $650; John Hargett, $360; Shirley Riley $150.

Agnes Chappell (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Place 23

Agnes Chappell

Date of birth: Jan. 28, 1952; age 64

Residence: Birmingham

Political experience: Ran for District Court judge, 2000, and Circuit Court judge, 2010. Professional experience: Judge, Birmingham Municipal Court, 2002-present; special Circuit Court judge, Jefferson County Family Court, 1999-2002; senior trial referee, Jefferson County Family Court, 1983-2002; private practice, Brown, Chappell and Burrell, 1981-1983; managing attorney/staff attorney, Birmingham Area Legal Services, 1977-1980; officer in the Magic City Bar Association and Alabama Lawyers Judicial Council. Education: University of Alabama School of Law, juris doctorate, 1976; University of Alabama, bachelor’s, 1973. Civic experience: Board member, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, 2008-2014; board member, Momentum Alumni Program, 2011-present; advisory board member, Paul Jones Art Collection; Jefferson County Family Violence Coordinated Response Steering Committee, 2007-present; city of Birmingham Revitalization and Policing Steering Committee, 2010-present; state Statutory Committee for Domestic Violence, 2009-2013; founder and board president, New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church Community Support Corp., 2007-present; board of directors, Bethel Learning Center, 2009-present.

Brendette Brown Green (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 11

Brendette Brown Green

Date of birth: October, 1957; 58

Residence: Birmingham

Political experience: Ran for House District 58, 2006; Member, executive committee of the Democratic Party. Professional experience: Board member, Women Lawyers Section; Birmingham Municipal Court judge, 2008-present; special circuit Judge, 2004-2006; senior trial referee, 2003-2006. Civic experience: Member, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; Birmingham Park and Recreation Board; American Association of University Women; National Coalition of 100 Black Women; Black Women’s Roundtable; Vulcan Park and Museum Board; member of The Worship Center Christian Church. Education: Judicial College, 2013; Miles Law School, juris doctorate, 1998; University of Alabama, bachelor’s of science, 1981. Top Contributors: None reported.

Everett W. Wess (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 26

Everett Wess

Date of birth: July 19, 1961; age 54

Residence: Birmingham

Political experience: Member, Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee; ran for Circuit Judge, Place 3, 2014; member, Jefferson County Citizens Coalition; member, Jefferson County Democratic Conference; member, Jefferson County Progressive Democratic Council; vice president, Jefferson County chapter of the New South Coalition. Professional experience: Criminal defense attorney, 15 years; prosecutor for Midfield, 5 years; appointed special circuit court and district court judge in Jefferson County. Civic experience: Past member, Jefferson County Indigent Defense Board; member M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F&AM of Alabama and Kiwanis Club of Vulcan. Education: Birmingham School of Law, juris doctorate, 2000; Alabama A&M University, M.B.A., 1996; Alabama A&M University, bachelor’s in computer science/math, 1985; Selma University, associate’s, 1981. Top contributors: Self, loan, $18,599.68; Bruce L. Gordon, $500; Bobby L. Davis, $500; M. Wayne Wheeler, $500.

Terry Dunn (R)

Public Service Commission President

Terry Dunn

Date of birth: July 3, 1959; age 56

Residence: Talladega

Political experience: Public Service Commission, 2010-2014; executive member, state Republican Party, 2004-present; presidential delegate, Republican Party, 2004, 2008 and 2012; co-chairman, Etowah County Building Authority, 1992-1994. Professional experience: General contractor, 1991-present. Civic experience: Board co-chairman, Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind board of trustees, 2008-present; member, Southside Kiwanis Club, 1994-1997;  award winner, League of Women Voters Transparency in Government Award, 2014. Education: Attended Gadsden State Community College, 1977-1978; graduate, Southside High School, 1977. Top contributors: Self, loans, $56,453.80; Williams S. Daughtery, $200.

Samuel K. Staggs (R)

Jefferson County Board of Education, Place 1

Samuel Staggs

Date of Birth: Dec. 21, 1952; age 63

Residence: Hueytown

Political Experience: None

Professional Experience: Principal, McAdory High School, 2001-2013; principal, North Highland Elementary School, 1997-2001; principal, Brookville Elementary School, 1995-1997; assistant principal, Mortimer Jordan High School, 1992-1995; community school supervisor, McAdory School, 1978; community school supervisor, Hueytown High School, 1975; English instructor, Jefferson State Jr. College, 1987-1992; ACT preparation instructor, UAB Special Studies, 1980-1992; English teacher, McAdory School, 1975-1992. Civic Experience: As an educator, he has served on numerous committees and boards representing the school and the needs of education in general. Education: UAB, Ed.S. educational leadership,1996; UAB, M.A. certification in educational leadership, 1986; UAB; master’s in English, 1980; University of Montevallo; bachelor’s in English, 1975. Qualifications: Staggs has more than over 30 years’ experience in education and has held the position of teacher, school bus driver, assistant principal, drama coach, yearbook sponsor, community school supervisor, curriculum specialist and principal.

Tom Parker (R)

Alabama Supreme Court, Associate Justice Place 3

Tom Parker

Date of birth: Aug. 19, 1951; age 64

Residence: Montgomery

Political experience: Associate justice, Alabama Supreme Court, 2004-present; founding executive director of the Alabama Family Alliance (now the Alabama Policy Institute); founding executive director of the Alabama Family Advocates, associated with Focus on the Family and Dr. James Dobson; lobbied for pro-family issues in the Alabama Legislature. Professional experience: Supreme Court justice, 2004-present; former deputy administrative director of courts, where he served as general counsel for the court system, advising trial court judges; former director of the Alabama Judicial College, which provides training for new judges and continuing legal education for existing judges; former legal adviser to then-Chief Justice Roy Moore; former Alabama assistant attorney general; previously in private practice. Civic experience: Member, Frazer United Methodist Church, Montgomery. Education: Vanderbilt University School of Law; Dartmouth College; won a Rotary International Fellowship for further study of law at the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) School of Law.

Carnella Greene-Norman (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Place 23

Carnella Greene-Norman

Date of birth: October 1950; age 65

Residence: Birmingham

Political experience: Special circuit judge, 2013-present; District Court judge, 2012-present; ran for District Court judge Place 3, 2012; ran for Circuit Court judge Place 23, 2010. Professional experience: President, Municipal Judges Association; District Court judge, 2012-present; private practice, The Norman Law Firm, 2002-2012; Birmingham Municipal Court judge, 1992-2002; Hilliard, Burns and Norman, P.C., 1989-1992; mediator; adjunct law professor, Miles Law School. Civic experience: Co-chair, Membership Committee, Citizens Advisory Committee of REV; committee member, The Women’s Network; member of Leadership Alabama and Leadership Birmingham; officer in the Neighborhood Association and Airport Hills Community; member of Children’s Policy Council; member, Community Education Committee Inns of Court. Education: Miles Law School, juris doctorate, 1984; Birmingham Southern college, bachelor’s, 1972; studied at John F. Kennedy School of Government, University of Nevada at Reno and Alabama Judicial College. Top contributors: Waldrep, Stewart & Kendrick LLC, $500; Dukes and Dames, $300; Mary and Katheree Hughes, $250; Melvin Humes, $250; The Larkin Law Firm, P.C., $250.

Linda Hall (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 11

Linda Hall

Date of birth: May, 1959; 57

Residence: Birmingham

Political Experience: None

Professional Experience:  Private practice, 1998-present, legal counselor for Committee to Protect the Homes; volunteer, Birmingham Bar Association Civil and Domestic Relations. Civic Experience: Member, Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church; mentor clerestory, Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church; board member, Epilepsy Foundation; volunteer, Birmingham Museum of Art; former member Homewood Rotary Club and Vulcan Kiwanis. Education: Birmingham School of Law, juris doctorate, 1992; University of Alabama at Birmingham, bachelor’s of science, 1983. Top Contributors: Robert Edwards, $2,550; Henry Fisher Jr., $500; Albright Rainey, $300; Ralph Sanders, $400; Britney Fisher, $220; Ralph Sanders, $200. *This information has been corrected from the original version.

John Tindle (R)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 25

John Tindle

Date of birth: March 17, 1962; age 53

Residence: Hueytown

Political experience: Ran for District Attorney’s Office, Bessemer Division, 2001. Professional experience: Private law practice, 1990-present; active U.S. Army Reserve 170th Jag Unit, 1988-1991; bailiff with Circuit Criminal Court in Birmingham, 1985-1989; U.S. Military Intelligence, 1980-1984. Civic experience: Member, American Legion; member, board of directors, Alabama Abuse Counseling Center. Education: Birmingham School of Law, juris doctorate, 1990; UAB, bachelor’s, 1985; University of Maryland, associate’s degree, 1984; attended Alabama School of Law Enforcement Academy, 1987-1989; Oak Grove High School graduate, 1980. Top contributors: Self, loan, $1,500; Iron Workers Local NO 92 P.A.L., $400; Charles Salvagio, $200; Charles R. Miller, $200.

Russ Parker (D)

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, Place 22

Russ Parker

Date of birth: April 1980; age 35

Residence: Hoover

Political experience: Democratic candidate for state Senate, 2006. Professional experience: Private practice, focusing on employment discrimination; taught literature and composition at UAB; registered on the Alabama State Court Mediator Roster and the Alabama Arbitrator Roster; listed on the Panel of Neutrals for the Northern District of Alabama federal court; member, Birmingham Bar Association Bar Bulletin Committee. Civic experience: Volunteer mediator, Jefferson County Mediation Project. Education: Tulane University, master of laws in international and comparative law, 2009; University of Alabama, juris doctorate, 2006; UAB, master’s 2002; Grove City College, bachelor’s, 2001. Top contributors: Self, loans, $1,050; self, donations, $850; Hare Wynn Newell & Newton, $500; Susan Han, $200; Bert and Elizabeth Nettles, $100.

Bob Shores (D)

Jefferson County District Court Place 5

Bob Shores

Residence: Homewood

Professional experience:  Private practice, Shores P.C. law firm

Education: Birmingham School of Law

Qualifications: Shores declined to participate in the Voter Guide survey.  

Jeff Newman (R)

Alabama Board of Education, District 7

Jeff Newman

Date of Birth:  July 8, 1956; age 59

Residence:  Millport

Political experience: Member, Alabama State Board of Education, 2012-present, currently serving as vice-president of the board; Lamar County superintendent of education, 2008-2012. Professional experience: Lamar County Superintendent of Education, 2008- 2012; career/tech director, federal programs coordinator and principal, Lamar County School System, 2004 -2008; career/tech director and principal, Pickens County School System, 2000 – 2004; assistant high school principal, Gordo High School, 1998 -2000; agribusiness teacher, Pickens County High School, 1980-1998; agribusiness teacher, Walker County High School, 1979-1980. Civic experience: Chairman, Millport Industrial Development Board, 2010-present; Propst Memorial Methodist Church Member, 1956-present; National Rifle Association, Lifetime member. Education: Educational specialist, curriculum/instruction evaluation and administration, NOVA Southeastern University, 2006; master’s in education, administration and supervision, the University of West Alabama, 1996; master’s in education, agribusiness and extension education, Mississippi State University, 1989; bachelor’s of science in education, agribusiness education, Auburn University, 1979; education concentration, Bevill State Community College, Fayette Alabama, 1975 -1977; Graduate, Millport High School, 1974. Top Contributors: ProgressPac, $15,080; Alabama Farmers Federation Political Action Committee, $7,500.

Justin Barkley (R)

Alabama Board of Education, District 3

Justin Barkley

Date of Birth: Feb. 23, 1980; age 36

Residence: Homewood

Political experience: Ran for Alabama House of Representatives District 46, 2014; chairman, Greater Birmingham Young Republicans Associate Board; member, Alabama Policy Institute Executive Committee. Professional experience: Chief administrative officer & general counsel, QCHC Inc., 2014-present; attorney, Spain & Gillon LLC, 2014; attorney, Johnston Barton Proctor & Rose LLP, 2005-2014. Civic experience: Member, Riverchase United Methodist Church. Education: University of Alabama School of Law, juris doctorate, 2005; Harvard University, bachelor’s, 2002; Hoover High School graduate, 1998.

Stephanie Bell (R)

Alabama Board of Education, District 3

Stephanie Bell

Date of birth: June 7, 1957; age 58

Residence: Montgomery

Political Experience: Alabama State Board of Education, District 3: 1995-present. Professional Experience:  Has served on the Education Commission of the States, National Association of State Boards of Education and Alabama’s Teacher Preparation Advisory Council; charter member of the Education Leaders Council. Civic Experience: Served on Family Guidance Center Board of Directors and the Governor’s Domestic Violence Advisory Council; numerous other civic activities include visiting schools throughout her district. Education: Auburn University, bachelor’s in English, 1980; Jefferson Davis High School graduate, 1975. Top Contributors: Telpac, $2,500; Dean Johnson, $1,000; Eagle Forum Pac, $500.

Richard C. Shelby (R)

U.S. Senate

Richard C. Shelby

Date of birth: May 6, 1934; age 81

Residence: Tuscaloosa

Political experience: U.S. Senator, 1987-present; U.S representative, 1979-1987; state senator, 1970-1978. Professional experience: Attorney, 1963-1978; special assistant attorney general, state of Alabama, 1969-1971; prosecutor, city of Tuscaloosa, 1963-1971; U.S. magistrate, Northern District of Alabama, 1966-1970. Civic experience: Has served in Congress since 1978. Education: Law degree, University of Alabama School of Law, 1963; bachelor’s degree, University of Alabama, 1957; graduate of Hueytown High School, 1953. Top contributors: Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. PAC, $11,000; Allstate Insurance Company PAC, $10,000; Capital Group Companies Inc. PAC, $10,000; CME Group Inc. PAC, $10,000; CFSA PAC, $10,000; Common Values PAC, $10,000; CULAC Credit Union National Association, $10,000; Denali Leadership PAC, $10,000; Employees of Northrop Grumman Corp PAC, $10,000; Federal Express PAC, $10,000; FNB Corporation PAC, $10,000; General Electric Company PAC, $10,000; Gold Sachs Group Inc. PAC, $10,000; Harris Corporation PAC, $10,000; Heartland Values PAC, $10,000; ICI PAC Investment Company Inst., $10,000; Independent Community Bankers PAC, $10,000; JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Cyclists at Oak Mountain state park, Alabama's largest.  Photo:  www.outdooralabama.com

ADEM, Northern Beltline, Clean Power, State Parks: Alabama Environmental Issues in 2016

Major decisions affecting environmental concerns in Alabama this year will be made in the courts and in the Legislature. Up in the air are questions about environmental regulation in Alabama, construction of the Northern Beltline in Jefferson County, the future of the state parks and the future of coal-fired power production here and across the country, among other issues. Here’s a rundown of some of the stories to keep an eye on in 2016.

Andreas Rauterkus, Art Carden, and Devon Laney.

Birmingham’s Economy 2016: Three Views

2016 could be a very good year for business expansion and employment in the Birmingham area, except ….

That’s a bottom line from conversations with people who have fingers on the economic pulse of the area: Andreas Rauterkus, Associate Professor in University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business; Devon Laney, President and CEO of Innovation Depot, and Art Carden, Associate Professor of Economics, Brock School of Business at Samford University.

On their lists of 2016 stories-that-matter on the local economy:

You’re going to the doctor more. That’s a good thing.
Healthcare and financial services are dependable pillars of the Birmingham economy, and 2016 should be a good year for those enterprises, Dr. Rauterkus says. Local unemployment is down from recession levels, and that helps healthcare. “People go to the doctor more,” he explains. In financial services, most Birmingham-area businesses have little international exposure which means

Alex Hoover.

After Months of Discussions, Alex Will Return to School, Despite Failing Heart

After months of difficult discussions, a resolution has been reached to allow 14-year-old Alex Hoover to return to his Limestone County high school—a development which delights his mother, Rene Hoover.

“Alex is happy at school,” she said. “I want him to be happy.”

Rene has been working to get Alex back into school since last spring,

Education Issues to Follow in 2016

Keep your eyes on Montgomery advises Trisha Powell Crain, executive director of Alabama School Connection and contributor to BirminghamWatch. The governor, Alabama legislature and education officials face a full plate of decisions that affect classrooms throughout the state. Among important items, Crain says, are:

The RAISE Act

senatormarsh

Sen. Del Marsh. Photo, Office of President Pro Tem.

RAISE (Rewarding Advance in Instruction and Student Excellence Act) is still a draft proposal, not filed as a bill. It affects teacher evaluation, teacher pay and teacher tenure. An element in the draft calls for rating teacher effectiveness partly by student test scores. Del Marsh, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem, has circulated the draft to traditional players in setting education policy, including the Alabama Association of School Boards and the Alabama Education Association. This update last week is from Brian Lyman of the Montgomery Advertiser : Tenure bill greeted cautiously, raises some concerns

Education Trust Fund allocations

More dollars, millions more, are available to be budgeted for 2016-2017 than were allocated for the current fiscal year. The big question: What agencies and missions will get the new money?

Alabama Teacher of the Year Ann Marie Corgill with President Obama.

Ten Stories from 2015

Miss important stories from BirminghamWatch this year? Want a refresher on subjects likely to make news in 2016? Here are ten BirminghamWatch stories from 2015 to check out or read again.

Alabama Teacher of the Year Leaves Classroom. Here’s Her Story.

“No Guarantee” for Future Tax Breaks to Help Rescue Historic Birmingham Buildings

Fall Behind, Pay the Price: Remediation Rate Story

Alabama Cities Act Quickly, End Deals with Company Criticized for Collection Tactics

Sound Familiar? Jeffco’s $5Million-plus Financial Software Not Working Right

Study: Alabama’s Government Integrity Ranks Among Best in a Bad Lot

Jim Williams, PARCA and a Scorecard on Improving Alabama Government

Assignment Birmingham: Build on City’s Assets to Create Innovation Powerhouse

At UAB, Carly’s Law Leads to Trial of Cnnabinoid Drug to Treat People Suffering from Seizures

At Hueytown Elementary School, Love and Data Tackle Alabama’s Education Problems

Walt Stricklin

A Birmingham View

Photographer Walt Stricklin has helped us see our city for much of the past two decades, first at The Birmingham News, now often at art shows, and recently as a contributor to BirminghamWatch.

It’s Walt Stricklin’s work that greets all of us on BirminghamWatch.org, with his city skyline view in the site logo.

This holiday week, please join BirminghamWatch in enjoying his distinctive photographs of places that define Birmingham, for ourselves and others.

5 Things You Should Know about Test Results for Alabama’s Public Schools

Alabama’s public school students are struggling with the annual standardized test required by the Alabama State Department of Education, judging by recently released results for the 2014-2015 school year.

Though annual testing isn’t new, the ACT Aspire, first administered during the 2013-2014 school year, is. The test is given to students in third through eighth grade in math and reading, and in fifth and seventh grades in science.

Statewide, of the six grades tested, only in third grade were more than half the students proficient in math; in no grade were more than half the students proficient in reading.

Jim Williams, PARCA and a Scorecard on Improving Alabama Government

Jim Williams near PARCA office on Samford campus.

Jim Williams near PARCA office on Samford campus.

For nearly three decades, Jim Williams applied the force of factual, objective research to the partisan, political reality of Alabama state and local governments.

So did he move that boulder of problems that Alabama governments create, deal with – or avoid?

Until last month, Williams – officially James W. Williams Jr. – had been the first and only executive director of Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama. PARCA, as it is known, was created by former Alabama Gov. Albert Brewer in 1988 with the mission of improving how the public’s business gets done. Williams retired at the end of September from the executive director job but will continue to do some research for the organization.

NEW LEad Pix

Study: Alabama’s Government Integrity Ranks Among Best in a Bad Lot

Alabama scored a D+ on its report card from the State Integrity Investigation, but the near-failing 67.3 grade was enough to rank the state seventh-best in the country on measures of transparency, accountability and ethics in its government.

The ranking is much higher than might have been expected as Alabama’s powerful speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Hubbard, faces 23 felony ethics charges alleging he used his office to benefit clients of one of his private companies and illegally lobbied the executive branch on their behalf. Not to mention the dozens of Alabama officials, employees, contractors and others convicted in state corruption-related cases in the past decade.

Sound Familiar? Jeffco’s $5 Million-Plus Financial Software Not Working Right

Jefferson County officials vowed not to make the same mistakes with a new financial software purchase that were made by a previous commission, which spent nearly $20 million for a system that was eventually scrapped.

But the current commission now faces problems with its $5 million-plus replacement — a system the county needs to help comply with a non-discrimination court decree.

Hueytown students,
 teachers gather in  lunchroom to review Data Binders. Photo by Walt Stricklin

At Hueytown Elementary School, Love and Data Tackle Alabama’s Education Problems

The 850 kindergarten- through-fifth- grade students at Jefferson County’s Hueytown Elementary School have a message about education: Poverty doesn’t always mean lower scores on standardized tests.

On the ACT Aspire test they took last spring, in most grades and subjects, a higher percentage of the Hueytown students scored in the proficient range than did Jefferson County school district students overall or students statewide.

The accomplishment comes in a school where 58 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and where students are a diverse mix – 52% are white, 39% are black and 6 percent are Hispanic.

More About 2015 Alabama Student Test Scores

The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama and Alabama School Connection have taken deeper looks at recently-released tests of the state’s student academic performance. PARCA assessed results from Alabama high school juniors on the ACT college readiness test. Only 16 percent of them were “ready” on all four sections of the test: English, Reading, Mathematics and Science. PARCA considers factors affecting the 2015 scores and concludes: “Alabama has significant room to grow in producing high school graduates who are ready for success in college.”

The PARCA report dealt only with the test for high school juniors. But the “significant room to grow” conclusion applies to the huge body of results from the ACT Aspire test given in grades three through eight.

State Integrity 2015 FAQs

What is the State Integrity Investigation? The State Integrity Investigation is a data-driven assessment of state laws and practices that deter corruption and promote accountability and transparency by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. This is the second time the project has run; the first go-round was published in March 2012. For more information, visit the State Integrity Investigation project site.  How did you conduct this investigation?

A Reporter’s Tour of the Ethical Landscape in Alabama Government

Virginia Martin is the Alabama reporter dispatched this year by the Center for Public Integrity to find answers to 245 questions about transparency, accountability and ethics in 13 areas of the state’s government. For Martin, it was a return to the scene where she spent many of her 30 years as a reporter and editor.

Martin was political editor and state editor for The Birmingham News and for several years coordinated legislative coverage by that Birmingham newspaper, The Huntsville Times and the (Mobile) Press-Register. Stories about accusations of wrongdoing against Gov. Don Siegelman and those about corruption in the state’s two-year college system were among those that came to her desk.

You’ll find Martin’s knowledge of Alabama politics and government, as well as findings of the new survey, in these close-up looks at the good, the fair and the ugly of the state’s performance in 13 important areas. Story links are presented in best to worst-grade order. You can take the full tour or check on one area that especially interests you. Either way you’ll get fresh, important information about how the public’s business gets done in our state, from an expert guide.

Internal Auditing – Score: 86.8 Grade: B+ Ranking: 4

 Alabama’s highest score in the Center for Public Integrity Report came in the Internal Auditing category. It scored 87, ranking it fourth-best in the country. The high score comes from the state’s having an office dedicated to auditing government agencies that is largely not dependent on political favor and that releases copies of its audits to the public. The Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts regularly audits every state and county office, board and commission and all accounts that receive or disburse government money. It is overseen by the Legislative Committee on Public Accounts, which appoints the director and can influence the budget.

Executive Accountability – Score: 81.9 Grade: B- Ranking: 2

Alabama received its highest ranking in the Center for Public Integrity study on the category of Executive Accountability. It was ranked second-best in the country, with a score of 81.9. Ironically, Alabama got that high score in part because officials have been tried and convicted for corruption. The prosecutions show the state has laws prohibiting corruption and the political will to take the cases to court. There has been no shortage of prosecutions.

Pension Fund Management – Score: 78.8 Grade: C+ Ranking: 7

Alabama scored a 78.8 in the Pension Fund Management category of the Center for Public Integrity study, ranking it seventh in the country. The primary driver of the state’s relatively high ranking in this category is that the Retirement Systems of Alabama uses staff analysts to make investment decisions, with oversight from the boards of control for the Teachers’ Retirement System and the State Employees’ Retirement System. The state does not contract with outside firms to manage the investments and does not procure investments through placement agents, a practice that has come under fire recently in several other states. The study did not take into account the return on investments achieved by the RSA or recent criticisms about the systems’ unfunded liabilities. The state did get a less-than-perfect score on the issue of whether politics played into investment decisions.

Legislative Accountability – Score: 75.2 Grade: C Ranking: 4

Alabama scored 75.2 in the Legislative Accountability category of the Center for Public Integrity’s State Integrity Investigation, ranking it fourth-best in the country in that regard. That is not to say Alabama hasn’t faced the prospect of corruption in the ranks of legislators in recent years; it has. Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard is set to go to trial in March on 23 felony ethics charges. Most of the charges allege that Hubbard used or attempted to use his legislative office to benefit clients of one of his private companies or used his position when he was chairman of the state Republican Party to secure business for his private companies. He also faces four charges that he lobbied the governor’s office and the Department of Commerce under the auspices of his private business for two clients.

Ethics Enforcement Agency – Score: 73 Grade: C- Ranking: 4

Alabama was given a 73 score in the Ethics Enforcement Agency category in the Center for Public Integrity’s State Integrity Investigation, ranking it fourth in the country. A series of changes to the Ethics Law beginning in 2010 have heavily influenced that score. Since that time, the Ethics Commission has been given a guaranteed budget, which reduces the effect of political pressure on operations. It also has been given subpoena power, which allowed it to conduct more effective investigations. Some ethics rules have been tightened or more explicitly defined in the law, and public officials now are required to undergo ethics training regularly.

State Budget Process – Score: 71.2 Grade: C- Ranking: 33

Alabama scored a 71.2 in the State Budget Process, a number that ranked it 33rd in the country in the Center for Public Integrity’s State Integrity Investigation. The state got high marks for having a relatively open budgeting process while the budget is being debated. The governor’s recommended budget is posted on the Executive Budget Office website, along with information about the state’s debts and projected revenues. Budget bills being debated by the Legislature are publicly available, and information about changes to those bills is posted to the Legislative Fiscal Office’s website during the process. The budgets also are discussed in open committee meetings.

Lobbying Disclosure – Score: 66.3 Grade: D Ranking: 20

Alabama got a 66.3 score in the Lobbying Disclosure category of the Center for Public Integrity’s State Integrity Investigation, ranking it 20th in the country on that measure. Alabama got high scores for requiring people who are paid to lobby any branch of government, including the executive branch, to register with the Ethics Commission. Those who are classified as lobbyists must file registration forms within 10 days of beginning lobbying activities. Otherwise the state got a lot of grades in the middle of the spectrum. For instance, all lobbyists are required to file with the Ethics Commission quarterly reports declaring any money spent on public officials, employees or their families over the amounts set in law, or any other business associations they have with public officials, candidates or their families.

Civil Service Management – Score: 66 Grade: D Ranking: 11

Alabama scored a 66 on the Civil Service Management category of the Center for Public Integrity’s State Integrity Investigation, ranking it 11th in the country. Alabama got high marks for having a structured Merit System with set requirements for state positions and a State Personnel Board that, among other responsibilities, can investigate allegations of inequities. The state has a whistleblower law that protects employees from retaliation after they report corruption, abuse of power or other misdeeds by supervisors. Whistleblowers who feel they have been wronged may appeal to the Personnel Board or file suit in civil court. However, the state does not require employees to report corruption, nor does it have a separate, defined office for receiving employee complaints of such a nature.

Electoral Oversight – Score: 66 Grade: D Ranking: 27

Alabama scored a 66 in the Electoral Oversight category of the State Integrity Investigation, ranking it 27th in the country on that measure. The state scored well on having an agency, the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s Office, tasked with monitoring the state election process and for having good public access to election data. However, the Secretary of State’s Office does not have legal authority to formally investigate allegations of fraud or voting irregularities, and it has no authority to impose sanctions against violators. The office does operate a Voter Fraud Unit that solicits complaints from residents, assesses them and forwards any thought to have merit to the Attorney General’s Office, which does have authority to investigate. The office also on occasion has investigated allegations at the request of county officials or sent personnel to be at the polls on election day if concerns had been raised ahead of time.

Procurement – Score: 65.4 Grade: D Ranking: 35

Alabama was scored 65.4 in the Procurement category, ranking it 35th in the country in the State Integrity Investigation. Alabama got high marks for having a competitive bid law, which requires most contracts involving $15,000 or more be awarded through a competitive bid process. This includes contracts for labor, services, work, or purchase or lease of materials, equipment supplies or other personal property. But there are exceptions, including professional services contracts and contracts issued in cases of emergency involving public health, safety or convenience. The public can get information about contracts awarded in the past 60 days on the Purchasing Division website.

Judicial Accountability – Score: 61.8 Grade: D- Ranking: 12

Alabama scored a 61.8 on the Judicial Accountability category in the State Integrity Investigation, but that was enough to rank it 12th-best among states across the country. The state’s low overall score is based in large part on the state having elected judges, an issue of frequent debate in Alabama. The only professional standard candidates must meet is being a lawyer, and there is no group legally charged with evaluating the qualifications of candidates or the performance of judges. Additionally, Alabama does not have a law requiring judges to explain their decisions in writing. Judges usually do give reasons for their decisions, especially for on bigger issues and especially appellate court justice.

Political Financing – Score: 41.5 Grade: F Ranking: 42

Alabama scored 41.5 in the Political Financing category on the State Integrity Investigation, ranking it 42nd among states. The biggest reason for Alabama’s dismal showing in this category is that the state does not cap political contributions to political candidates from any source. The state had capped contributions from corporations, but it lifted that cap beginning in 2013. The only significant restriction the state places on political financing is a ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers, which when approved in 2010 ended what had become an extensive shell game of moving money through multiple PACs so the source was obscured by the time it reached the candidate. People and corporations can – and do – still deflect attention from their donations by giving to multiple PACs, however.

Public Access to Information: Score: 40.6 Grade: F Ranking: 33

Alabama chalked up its lowest score in the State Integrity Investigation in the category Access to Public Information. The state scored a 40.6 in that category, ranking it 33th in the country. The state’s low score in this category is almost entirely because it has no central office or defined mechanism for people to complain if they are denied access to public records or meetings, other than filing suit in court. Alabama does have laws that give the public access to most government records and meetings. The state’s open records law defines public records broadly as any written materials made or received by a public officer as part of the transaction of public business, and it applies to any subdivision of government, including cities, counties and boards.

“Highly Qualified.” What Does That Label Mean for an Alabama Teacher?

What does it mean to be a “highly qualified” teacher for Alabama fifth-graders?

That question made headlines Monday when Alabama Teacher of the Year Ann Marie Corgill resigned her teaching job at a Birmingham school. The Alabama State Department of Education ruled she didn’t meet the “highly qualified” standard.

Teacher certification presents complicated questions with unsettled answers for public education policy-makers. What are the rules to be “highly qualified”? Do they apply to everybody? Why are they especially important for schools in lower income neighborhoods?

Alabama Teacher of the Year Ann Marie Corgill with President Obama.

Alabama Teacher of the Year Leaves Classroom. Here’s Her Story.

Six months ago, Ann Marie Corgill was standing next to President Obama celebrating being named a National Teacher of the Year finalist, intent on finding a job teaching in an inner-city school after years in Alabama’s richest district.

On Sunday afternoon, Corgill officially resigned after two months in Birmingham’s Oliver Elementary School, intent on never stepping foot in a classroom again. In a statement Monday, she reopened the door to future teaching but the resignation from Oliver stood.

Max Michael, creator of UAB problem-solving experiment, Edge of Chaos     Credit: UAB

Assignment Birmingham: Build on City’s Assets to Create Innovation Powerhouse

Start with distinctive assets like UAB, Southern Research Institute, Railroad Park, and historic downtown buildings. Decide collectively how to use those to help transform Birmingham into one of the country’s centers for innovation. Market that innovative city to the nation and world.

That was the assignment put on the table for people who can make things happen in Birmingham by Brookings Institution Vice President Bruce Katz, an influential Washington, D.C.–based policy expert who recently spent two days in Birmingham.

No Football Scores but Lots of Other Stats on Alabama Colleges, from PARCA

The average annual cost of attending an Alabama college ranges from almost $29,000 to about $8,500. Graduation rates vary from 70 percent to 26 percent. And the chances of a college’s former students earning more than $25,000 a year vary widely too.

In an analysis published Tuesday, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama focused on cost, outcome and other statistics for the state’s colleges, and discussed factors involved in those numbers. The information from colleges nationwide was released last month by the U.S. Department of Education in its College Scorecard.

Opening day 2014 on University of Alabama at Birmingham campus. Photo credit:  UAB.

Reputation, Cost, Location, Tradition: Big Factors when Alabama Students Choose a Home-State College

Year after year, Hoover High School sends large numbers of graduates off to Alabama public colleges, second only to Bob Jones High School in Madison City Schools. Cindy Bond, College and Career Specialist there for more than a decade, says that a college’s academic reputation is key to her students’ decisions. In recent years, though, cost has played a bigger role in the choices, she says.

Katz: “Break Some China” to Build Birmingham as Economic Power

A national advocate who believes cities must lead economic development and change dysfunctional politics visited Birmingham Thursday, and this is what he quickly noted:

A downtown still anchored by handsome old buildings, something gone in many places. The rail lines. “Crazy amounts” of affordable housing. The presence of a major health and science research university. Challenges, including addressing poverty and identifying local companies known worldwide for their work.

Fine-Collection Company Stops Work in Alabama

Judicial Correction Services, the private probation company that charged Alabama’s poorest residents fees to collect municipal fines on a payment plan, announced it will no longer operate in the state. The company sent a statement to cities that continued to contract with JCS, despite a threat of lawsuits by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which led the push for cities to stop working with JCS.

Thomas Jefferson Hotel now is dark gap in city's skyline. Photo by Walt Stricklin

“No guarantee” for Future Tax Breaks to Help Rescue Historic Birmingham Buildings

An economic development tool credited with facilitating more than $170 million in development in Birmingham faces an uncertain future after being pushed aside by lawmakers preoccupied with the state’s budget battle.

An effort to renew Alabama’s historic preservation tax credit was derailed in the spring and has been expected to be renewed early next year. But a leading opponent said he may move to block renewal of the credits even if a state study concludes that they are effective.

State Sen. Lee Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, is waiting for completion of a state study of the law’s effectiveness before taking a formal position, he said, but his opposition to the use of tax credits in general may lead him to try to block renewal of the incentive regardless of the findings.

Sakeena White faced every Friday check-ins that interfered with work

Alabama Cities Act Quickly, End Deals with Company Criticized for Collection Tactics

About half of the 100 Alabama cities that once contracted with a private probation company, JCS, have cancelled their agreements for the company to collect city debts.

The cancellations come after the Southern Poverty Law Center in June settled a lawsuit with Clanton, Ala, which had used JCS. The SPLC told officials there, and in about 100 other municipalities, that JCS contracts are illegal and that the company’s fine-collection tactics can amount to extortion.

The quick reaction by local governments around the state makes less likely stories like that of Sakeena White, a single mother of three.

Julie Michaels and her daughter Sydney.

Parents Drive National Momentum for Children and Marijuana-based Treatments

In room 716 of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, 12-year-old Hannah Pallas is motionless, but for an occasional turn of her head and the blink of her eyes, following a series of life-threatening seizures. On the same day, 5-year-old Sydney Michaels is down the hall in room 749, waiting to be discharged after 15 grand mal seizures within 36 hours.

High-Stakes Dealing Down South

By CODY OWENS, WELD FOR BIRMINGHAM: The man’s phone rang. Someone on the other end wanted to buy a gram of hashish from him (hashish is a condensed product of cannabis with a high concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC). The man said it’s good.

Could it be a better budget plan for Alabama?

The Alabama Legislature passed a 2016 general fund budget, and Gov. Robert Bentley signed it. That long, hard-fought deal keeps state government running and juggles a lot of political interests. But the deal also seems in sync with budget reform ideas from the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama: Set clear priorities and find more effective ways to handle state business. Want to dig deeper? Here are Parca’s reports on Alabama’s approaches to corrections and Medicaid.

Walt Stricklin

Meet AIIJ’s Board of Directors

The Board is the policy-making and oversight body of AIIJ. Members are Brett Blackledge, Brant Houston, Mark Kelly, Jerome Lanning, Carol Nunnelley, Emily Jones Rushing, and Odessa Woolfolk.  

All About Alison (Alabama Information System Online)

Need to know how your representative voted? Want to know if he showed up for the vote? Who is your senator or representative, anyway? Alison has answers. Alison is a nickname for Alabama Information System Online, a state-sponsored website.Trisha Powell Crain, executive director of Alabama School Connection, spends a lot of time tracking down information about the Alabama legislature and its members.

Walt Stricklin

Meet the people behind BirminghamWatch

The journey to creating Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism and BirminghamWatch is a story about many things. It’s about Birmingham’s need for news that asks important questions and searches for trustworthy answers. It’s about pushing against a tide, and putting more reporters to work covering school boards, digging through data, and informing voters. It’s about working with other Birmingham news organizations that share this mission.

Today, I want to tell our story in a personal way, by introducing people behind it. AIIJ’s directors share a common passion for good journalism. They stepped up to do hard work in founding a nonprofit news organization.

Walt Stricklin

A Message from AIIJ Founders

Why are we doing this? What can our fledgling non-profit news organization contribute to journalism for Birmingham and Alabama?

Those may be your first two questions if you are meeting BirminghamWatch, and its sponsor Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism, for the first time.

Walt Stricklin

Supporters

The photographs throughout this initial edition of BirminghamWatch.org are the work of Walt Stricklin, generously donated by him for use on the website. BirminghamWatch and Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism gratefully acknowledge all the support and volunteer contributions during the project’s development.

Walt Stricklin

Donor Policy

Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism and BirminghamWatch recognize that the value of their work depends on commitment to journalistic values and the editorial independence of its editors and reporters. In seeking and accepting financial support, Alabama Initiative will follow practices that protect these values.

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Ethics Statement

Seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, be accountable and transparent. These are the anchors of Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. Journalists working with BirminghamWatch and Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism will be guided by the SPJ Code of Ethics. Read the complete Code of Ethics here.

About The Board

The Board  is the policy-making and oversight body of AIIJ. Members are Brett Blackledge, Brant Houston, Mark Kelly, Jerome Lanning, Carol Nunnelley, Emily Jones Rushing, and Odessa Woolfolk. Brant Houston, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting in the department of journalism at the University of Illinois. Prior to becoming the Knight Chair in 2007, he served for more than a decade as the executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors and a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Before joining IRE, he was an award-winning investigative reporter at daily newspapers.