Special Election to Fill Empty Commission District Seat to be Held July 18; No Write-Ins Allowed in Nonpartisan Vote

JeffCo Probate Judge James P Naftel II and Loretta Erskine, election supervisor for probate court (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Probate Judge James Naftel joked that he would scratch someone from his Christmas card list after a question rose during the Jefferson County Election Commission meeting.

The panel had just OK’d the schedule for the election to replace Steve Ammons as District 5 commissioner to the Jefferson County Commission when Naftel was asked about write-in votes.

As it turned out, there will be no place on that ballot for write-ins.

“For commission seats, because of the unique way it’s done, you don’t qualify with parties,” Naftel said. “You don’t run as a Democrat or Republican. It’s all one list of candidates, and there’s no write-in on that ballot. If you don’t qualify, you’re not gonna get written in.”

The election commission made official what had been presumed, that the election to fill the District 5 seat will be July 18. July 11 was the only other possible date and that was not considered feasible because of the previous Fourth of July holiday.

A runoff, if needed, will be Aug. 8. Qualifying for the election will end June 27, 21 days before the election. Persons seeking the seek need a petition signed by 100 or more eligible voters in county commission District 5.

“Don’t stop at 100,” Naftel said, “so we don’t have to deal with (residency) issues.”

Barry Stephenson, chairman of the board of registrars, anticipated that the turnout for the election will be 10% of eligible voters or less.

The election to fill the District 5 county commission seat is one of three special elections that will take place this summer. There will be one for state House District 16, which is mostly Tuscaloosa and Fayette counties with a sliver of Jefferson County.  Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette, is resigning to pursue other opportunities.

There also will be a special election to House District 55, where Fred Plump resigned after being charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

The dates of the House elections will be set by Gov. Kay Ivey, who will be notified about the now-scheduled county commission election. Naftel hopes the governor will set the other elections on July 18 as well.

Emergency Service Funds

The commission Thursday also passed resolutions using American Rescue Plan Act funds to purchase upgrades to emergency management systems in four fire departments in unincorporated Jefferson County. The resolutions are:

  • $344,391.65 for an ambulance and equipment, medical supplies and vehicle striping for the Rocky Ridge Fire Department.
  • $158,066 for an ambulance for the Birmingport Fire Department.
  • $213,257.55 for Birmingport Fire Department for an ambulance and equipment, vehicle striping and medical supplies.
  • $180,793.75 for an ambulance and equipment, medical supplies and vehicle striping for Cahaba Valley Fire District.

“The original program was to help improve ambulance service in unincorporated Jefferson County,” Markert said. “They (commissioners) asked us to expand that at a meeting, maybe two meetings ago. I just wanted to point out these are in the original program for the unincorporated part of the county.

“But I know we’re expanding it to cities that also serve the unincorporated part of the county that might need (ambulances) so those are coming at upcoming meetings,” he said. “We’re really excited about that. Fairfield, Midfield, Warrior, Leeds, Irondale, Trussville. Some of those areas will get help as well.”

Commissioners discussed the issues during their committee meeting Tuesday.